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Building a Better Future for Washington Families: Gov. Gregoire Grows Savings, Increases Safety in 2008 Supplemental Budget

For Immediate Release: December 18, 2007

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today unveiled her 2008 supplemental budget, which saves $1.2 billion dollars for the future and invests in programs to improve the safety of Washingtonians.

“The investments we made in the 2007–09 biennial budget took great strides in addressing many of our state’s most pressing concerns,” Gov. Gregoire said. “We started the transformation of our education system, we committed to creating a strong economy with targeted state investments and we helped ensure that Washingtonians stay healthy, especially our children, with greater access to high-quality, affordable health care.

“The goal of this supplemental budget is to invest money to address immediate concerns that cannot wait until the next biennium, and to save the rest of the revenue surplus.”

Gov. Gregoire’s 2008 supplemental budget deposits $430 million into the new, constitutionally protected rainy day fund and leaves $774 million in unspent revenue for a total of $1.2 billion in savings.

“Saving money now is vital to ensure that we have money in the future,” Gov. Gregoire said. “A historically high total of $1.2 billion in savings will make great progress toward securing the state’s future. By working with the Legislature to both invest and save wisely, we have managed to get off the budget rollercoaster.”

One of the primary purposes of a supplemental budget is to address unexpected emergencies, such as the storms that hit in early December. These storms produced heavy rains, flooding, landslides, high winds and major road closures and caused extensive damage to homes, businesses, public utilities, public facilities and infrastructure throughout Washington.

The governor’s budget will help the recovery effort by:

  • Expanding the Housing Trust Fund. Up to $10 million of the increase for the fund will be prioritized for affordable housing in those areas hurt the most by the recent storms.

  • Seeking bond authorization for the state’s portion of the Chehalis-Centralia Flood Control Project. This project is a partnership among those cities, the state of Washington and the federal government.

  • Setting aside the matching funding required to access Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance once it becomes available.

  • Allocating $2 million from the Governor’s Economic Development Strategic Reserve Account to make immediate assistance available where federal funds do not help, so that small businesses can recover more quickly.

  • Paying for our share of National Guard activation. We expect about half the expenditures associated with the Guard’s activation will be reimbursed by the federal government.

Gov. Gregoire also is proposing several targeted investments in her supplemental budget to continue progress in safety for children, vulnerable adults and seniors, and caregivers. The budget proposes to help kids by accelerating the hiring of new staff so that face-to-face visits with children in the state’s care are made every 30 days; providing better assessments for high-risk and complex Child Protective Services cases so caseworkers can better identify serious issues requiring attention; and paying for more help for families who have children with developmental disabilities.

Investments to better protect vulnerable adults and seniors are included in the proposed budget. For the first time, rigorous fatality reviews will be conducted when a vulnerable adult dies from abuse or neglect. An affordable, senior-based exercise program and consumer information on fall prevention for seniors and their children will be created to help reduce the risk of falls by older residents. Funding for respite and training for 500 more unpaid caregivers so seniors and developmentally disabled adults can remain with their families and a rate increase for adult family homes are also recommended.

Some investments are also proposed for areas emphasized in the biennial budget, signed last spring.

“Make no mistake, the priorities I outlined in my biennial budget remain extremely important to me,” said Gov. Gregoire. “We made significant investments in education, health care and economic development in the biennial budget last year, as well as transportation, natural resources and veteran’s affairs. We are spending less in these areas this year because this is a supplemental budget. However, the few investments we are making are significant.”

Some of these key investments include:

  • Keeping teachers’ salaries consistent with the cost-of-living by allocating $31.2 million for raises;

  • Installing concrete barriers on I-5 in Marysville to reduce the number of serious accidents along that corridor;

  • Continuing progress on the Spokane North-South corridor, Highway 2 in Snohomish County, the Columbia River bridges, the 520 bridge and the Alaskan Way Viaduct; and

  • Funding for construction projects in the capital budget, including water issues like the Longview regional water treatment plant, the Tenino wastewater treatment facility and the Quincy water treatment system.

Gov. Gregoire previously announced new investments proposed for increasing campus safety, improved tracking and monitoring of sex offenders, building new state ferries, improving patient safety and increasing housing security.

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