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Posts published in “Day: November 22, 2011”

A show of passion

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.

Kitzhaber: No more executions on my watch

In his third term, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has taken one large step after another, but this may be the most dramatic. From his statement on the scheduled execution of convicted killer Gary Haugen, and his "temporary reprieve" of it:

"I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am Governor."

It was a dramatic statement, and not widely expected (at least, not among us), partly because he did allow two earlier executions. His longish statement - it's here in full after the jump on this post - is remarkable. It's all worth reading.

Kitzhaber notes that in the last 49 years just two people have been executed in Oregon, both during his first two terms in office: "I was torn between my personal convictions about the morality of capital punishment and my oath to uphold the Oregon constitution. They were the most agonizing and difficult decisions I have made as Governor and I have revisited and questioned them over and over again during the past 14 years. I do not believe that those executions made us safer; and certainly they did not make us nobler as a society. And I simply cannot participate once again in something I believe to be morally wrong."

He said, though, that he didn't intend his judgement unilaterally to change policy for the state: "I could have commuted Mr. Haugen’s sentence – and indeed the sentences of all those on death row – to life in prison without the possibility of parole. I did not do so because the policy of this state on capital punishment is not mine alone to decide. It is a matter for all Oregonians to decide."

This will create something of a roar in the next legislative session, moving the issue to the front burner. The move to oppose Haugen's executive was not as large as some we've seen around the country (in part because he sought to end appeals and get the sentence over with), but it's not been nonexistent, and some legislators have been taking about bringing up the issue.

It's a good bet that the next legislative session will see some action in this area.

Here's what Kitzhaber had to say: (more…)