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Gov. Chris Gregoire: Let’s Work Together for Progress

For Immediate Release: January 15, 2008

OLYMPIA – Partnering together for continued progress and prosperity will serve Washingtonians better than partisanship and politics, Gov. Gregoire declared to Washingtonians during her annual State of the State address today.

“We’ve come a long way, from tough times and dour prophecies, to put our state back on track toward a safe, prosperous, healthy future,” Gregoire said. “Let’s continue to work as partners with and for the great people of this state.”

Gregoire said Washington enters 2008 on sound financial footing and with a promising outlook for the future.

“Just three years ago, when I came to office, Washington was struggling with $2.2 billion shortfall that threatened to halt any progress on needs from education to health care. Those were tough times, indeed,” Gregoire said. “But we have met the challenges head on, made the tough decisions, and adopted fiscally prudent and economically sound policies for our families, our communities, and our future.”

“We have spent wisely and carefully to give our kids a better education, make families healthier and safer, and helped bring family-wage jobs to this state,” she said. “And we have done all that while turning a huge budget deficit into $1.2 billion in reserves.”

“Just like families, we are making wise investments for the future and saving for less prosperous times,” she added. “For too long, state government spent in the good times, and then made painful cuts when the economy slowed. We are getting off that roller coaster, and we’re making progress.”

Gregoire said the state has made great progress toward solving transportation problems, making communities safer, improving the environment, investing in education, providing affordable health care for children, and creating tens of thousands more jobs statewide.

The governor noted the sacrifices made by veterans, as well as the 50,000 Washington men and women who served our nation in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world in the last year.

“To those who returned home, we welcome you back and thank you for your service. For those now serving, we pray for your safety and wish you God speed on your return home,” Gregoire said.

The governor cited a number of accomplishments during her tenure:

• Balanced the budget and pushed through a rainy day fund;

• Helped create more than 218,000 new jobs in the past three years, reducing unemployment rates to one of the lowest in state history;

• Signed legislation capping property tax increases at one percent;

• Completed 128 highway construction projects in the past three years – from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to the widening project on I-405 to a new State Route 17 Interchange in Moses Lake. Ninety one percent of the projects were on time and nearly as many on budget;

• Provided 84,000 more kids with health insurance;

• Saved more than 70,000 people an average of $33 per prescription through a drug discount card;

• Reduced K-12 class sizes and boosted teacher salaries as called for by two voter-approved initiatives that were enacted several years ago but never implemented;

• Cracked down on sexual predators by funding local law enforcement efforts to partner with the Department of Corrections to track down and arrest sex offenders in violation of their parole (Operation Crackdown);

• Began the biggest prison expansion in state history, which will add nearly 4,000 beds by the end of 2008;

• Helped establish a VIP program to offer financial assistance to veterans of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq so they can achieve long-term stability through education and training opportunities.

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