Gov. Gregoire proposes deep cuts to WA programs - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Gov. Gregoire proposes deep cuts to WA programs

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Chris Gregoire has unveiled a two-year budget plan that uses a mix of cuts to state programs, suspension of voter initiatives and use of the state's "rainy day" fund to patch a projected $4.6 billion deficit.

In her proposal unveiled Wednesday, Gregoire makes about $3 billion in cuts to programs across state government. Gregoire also helps bridge the deficit by completely suspending two voter-backed education initiatives that deal with teacher pay raises and money for reducing class sizes.

She taps about $290 million from the state's Rainy Day Fund, and transfers about $400 million from other accounts to the state's operating budget. Her plan would leave the state's operating budget with a balance of about $881 million.

The Governor has asked the Commission on Salaries to cut her salary and other elected officials at the same level state employees are cut. The Commission sets salary levels for elected officials.

Gregoire's state budget plan also means Washington state isn't likely to make any progress this year toward fully paying for K-12 education.

She released a budget proposal Wednesday that won't make any money available to start paying for education reform during the next two-year budget cycle. She also proposed other cuts that will make it harder for school districts to make ends meet.

A King County judge ruled in February that the state is not fulfilling its constitutional obligation to fully pay for basic public education.

Between cuts by the Legislature at last weekend's special session and the governor's plans for the next biennium, state support for education is going backward, not forward.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn called the past five days the worst he's seen for students in 30 years.