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Making Changes Families Can Count On
Governor Gregoire and Legislature Focus on Education, Demand Accountability and Results

For Immediate Release: April 22, 2007

OLYMPIA – Governor Chris Gregoire today praised the Legislature for their commitment to world-class education, children’s health insurance and other top priorities including fiscal responsibility, quality health care and job creation. Governor Gregoire and legislators set aside differences to make changes that will make Washington a better place to live and work.

“This legislative session was marked by strategic and responsible changes that Washington families can count on,” said Governor Gregoire. “Washingtonians asked us to set a new agenda by investing in and reforming education, addressing our health care crisis and helping to create family-wage jobs. We are delivering.”

House Speaker Frank Chopp agreed. “We are now leading the nation in children’s health care coverage,” he said, “and we are making record investments in school construction and transportation projects all over the state. This has clearly been a great session for One Washington.”

“Senate Democrats have had our eye on securing Washington’s future today, and we feel we’ve passed a budget and several forward-thinking policies to help make that happen,” said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane. “In particular, I’m proud that we approved, in a bipartisan way, the Rainy Day Fund and the offender re-entry bill. And thanks to our efforts this session, Washington will be leading the country in addressing climate change and making steps toward paid family leave.”

Legislation passed this year will reward nationally certified teachers, expand all-day kindergarten, ensure smaller class sizes, help struggling students meet standards, make tuition more predictable at our colleges and universities and provide more financial aid for low-income students.

“We have started on a path toward a world-class education system that will help Washingtonians succeed in the global economy. This includes a stronger focus on math and science, more affordable college tuition, comprehensive early learning and support for teachers,” said Governor Gregoire.

“More children will have access to health insurance and more veterans will have better quality health care; communities will be safer with evidence-based programs to reduce the risk of offenders returning to crime; we have taken major steps to reduce dependence on foreign oil and make Puget Sound cleaner for our children and grandchildren; and we are building on our strengths and our reputation for quality to ensure Washington continues to have a strong economy with stable, family-wage jobs.”

With Governor Gregoire’s leadership, the Legislature passed measures that will:

  • Safeguard savings in a constitutionally-protected Rainy Day Fund;
  • Fundamentally change educational expectations, delivery and results with a substantial investment at all levels, from early learning through K-12 to higher education and job training, including making school construction a top priority;
  • Provide access to health insurance for an additional 38,500 children who are currently not covered and takes steps toward providing higher quality, more affordable health care;
  • Create jobs by investing in tourism, small business support, research, promotion of Washington products, infrastructure improvements and local and regional workforce training across the state;
  • Keep family farms and forests profitable and productive;
  • Commit to significant, steady reductions in global warming pollution, a reduction in fossil fuel imports and more jobs in the clean energy sector;
  • Offer financial help for new parents bonding with a child; and
  • Target investments to protect and restore Puget Sound.

These accomplishments build on the successes of the Gregoire administration. Governor Gregoire since 2005 has worked with the Legislature to:

  • Restore funding for voter-approved initiatives to reduce class sizes and provide more individual attention to students;
  • Invest in early learning by consolidating services and creating a private public partnership so Washington children arrive in kindergarten ready to learn;
  • Support students who are struggling to meet academic standards with tutoring and mentoring;
  • Spur an increase of more than 155,000 jobs. Over half of these additional jobs are high-paying jobs in construction and professional services, such as employment and legal services, accounting, architecture and computer design;
  • Make major progress toward ensuring every child has health insurance by 2010 - when Governor Gregoire took office, nearly six percent of children had no health insurance. Currently, only 4.4 percent are uninsured;
  • Sign an $8.5 billion, 16-year transportation package, which was approved by the voters, to improve safety and cut congestion on Washington roads;
  • Support research and advancement on global health issues by creating the Life Sciences Discovery Fund;
  • Create the Energy Freedom Loans to increase production and use of bio-fuels and reduce our dependence on foreign oil; and
  • Set aside $947 million last year to help make pension payments, pay for growing health costs for children and low-income adults and continue to reduce class sizes in public schools.