Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, who in the last few years has had to make enormous cuts in state spending, has said repeatedly that those cuts have grieved her. But the strong feeling behind didn't seem to show up a lot, as she has focused on rounds of cuts rather than revenue increases.
A corner of some sort has been turned, though. Gregoire is proposing a tax increase in her just-unveiled revised budget plan (the new one dealing with further expected revenue shortfalls). There are more cuts in this budget, but she seems now to be reaching a point of saying, no more.
At one point in her press meeting on the proposal, she was asked, "Why should the voters be willing to sacrifice themselves if the state worker unions are not willing to do the same?"
And a switch seemed to flip. She grabbed a large budget pie chart, and delivered her response with a passion probably not a lot of Washingtonians have seen before:
"Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I don't know how you can say that. Look at this.
Ten and a half billion dollars, y'all. Ten and a half billion dollars. 26 percent, has come from K through 12. 19 percent of that has come from state employee K-12 compensation. We can't assume they haven't stepped up. They have. They have stepped up.
"But at some point you need to understand that you have to have people do the job. You hsave to have people do the job. They are a demoralized work force. I've told this to CEOs in the last two weeks: How'd you like to lead a work force that is demoralized as they are? They have given. They have given on the benefits, they've given on their pensions, they've given on their salaries. They have done furloughs. And yet - and yet - they are constantly being bashed about the head and shoulders. No one says 'thank you' for them doing the work that no one else can, and no one else will.
"I have over the last few weeks worked with some of the finest people in state government. They don't get overtime. They do the work. That's what's going on in state government. It's time for us as a state to step up and understand. If we want protection, we need parole officers. If we want to educate our kids, we need teachers. And we can't afford to continue to undermine the very fabric of our state. Time for us to spend one-half penny to invest in the future of our state."
The video (fro TVW) is posted at the Slog.