The search for ways to slash $4.6 billion from the Washington State budget continues, with the public employees' unions now agreeing to a three percent pay cut (through unpaid time off) and higher health insurance premiums.

What will the state save when about 54,000 unionized public employees take this hit? An estimated $269 million over two years.

In the leading by example department, Governor Christine Gregoire said she will work with the state commission that sets salaries for elected officials to make sure she and all other state leaders also get a three percent pay cut. "Meeting this challenge will take bold action," Gregoire said in a statement. "And it will take all of us."

You ask: What good is a measly $296 million anyway, when the budget shortfall for the next two year funding cycle is a mammoth $4.6 billion?

Gregoire says it's good for quite a lot:

That amount of savings would pay for child protective services and foster care for our abused and neglected children. Or it would pay for our entire learning assistance program that helps our struggling students across the state succeed in school. State employees have stepped up to share in the sacrifice to get all of us through our fiscal crisis. They have done what thousands of families across Washington have done—they’ve made sacrifices, focused on their highest priorities and aimed for long-term prosperity.