Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gov. Gregoire's State Of the State Address

Governor Chris Gregoire gave her state of the state speech today, and for WFSE members it was a somber message. The following are a few excerpts that jumped out at me.

"In all corners of our state, families are struggling to survive the great recession. These people are good people. People who have always worked and now for the first time are filing for unemployment... The loss of jobs has created a ripple effect through social service agencies and the economy... For all these struggling families, we have a duty this session to rebuild the economic future of Washington."

"Washington families and businesses are cutting back and trying to do things smarter as they make do with less. Government must be smarter and more efficient as well... Like businesses today, we are cutting costs, reducing staffing and increasing efficiency by consolidating back-office support services like the motor pool, property management and technology. Now is the time to create a lean and effective government."

"Now is the time to have the courage to close institutions that may be an important fixture in a community, but are no longer cost effective, or whose services are no longer needed or can more effectively be provided elsewhere. I am asking you to close all or part of 10 state institutions. But we have more work to do, and this session will test our mettle.

First, I propose to close, or partially close, five correctional facilities. By more efficiently using the beds we have, we can save $65 million over four years, and not release a single offender prior to his or her earned release date. Further, I am requesting that we close two of our residential centers and provide the residents better care in our communities. In the 1970s, we had six state institutions serving 4,000 people. Today, with only one fewer, we serve 900. And finally I’m asking us to reduce the size of three juvenile institutions.

The last time the state closed an institution was in the 1970s. Now is the time — this session — for us to demonstrate, as difficult as it is, that Washington state government makes good business decisions, not political ones."

"Finally, rebuilding our future means we need to make sure our families are safe. We have been making progress. Our communities are safer today because we gave members of law enforcement the help they asked for in dealing with sex offenders. They have done an admirable job. Last year, more than 28,000 address verification visits were made, resulting in more than 800 arrests for failure to register and 1,700 arrests made on other warrants."

"These are serious days ahead. Too many families today are getting layoff notices. Watching unpaid bills pile up. Losing health care. Telling their kids they can’t attend college. Standing in line at the food bank. Or dipping into a dwindling savings account just to get by. Let’s not waste their time or the crisis... It is not going to be easy. The decisions we have to make will not always be popular. But we have a duty to our struggling families and businesses to help build a bright future for Washington."

You can see the Governor's speech for yourself. [Note: Scroll ahead about 35 minutes.]

-- Dennis

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