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June 10, 2004

Message from the Governor

Reading is the key to all academic success. Successfully teaching and improving the reading skills of our young people is critically important. That’s why I created the Governor's Summer Reading Challenge two years ago.

Gov. Locke and students at Michael Anderson Elementary School.

We kicked off the 2004 challenge in Spokane yesterday, and tomorrow we’ll launch the challenge in Seattle. The challenge is simple. I am asking Washington students to read 15 hours or more before Labor Day (September 6) and report their success to me by logging on to the Web site or by writing to: Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge, P.O. Box 40002, Olympia, WA, 98504-0002. Every student who completes the challenge receives a signed certificate from me, and becomes eligible for a trip for four to Disneyland.

We should do all we can to encourage students to keep reading during the summer months. Too many kids lose the reading gains they’ve made during the school year because they don’t read enough during summer vacation. When the school year begins, time and effort are lost trying to catch up. Reading is an academic essential, and it's also a great life habit. The challenge helps kids keep the gains they’ve made, make further reading gains, and reminds them that reading is fun whether they are in school or not.

Quote of the Week
“Reading is the key to success in school and success in life.”
—Governor Locke, June 10, 2004

I deeply appreciate the great response we’ve received from librarians across the state. Washington librarians are actively supporting and promoting the challenge, and there are many local summer reading programs for young students. I encourage students to read with one of these programs.

I also hope as many children and adults as possible will join me on July 14th, when we have a “read-in” on the Capital Campus lawn from 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Participants can bring their lunch and picnic blankets, and we'll have a great time reading together. And it will be another opportunity to add more reading time and meet the challenge!

Gov. Locke, Col. Anthony Mauer, commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild Air Force Base, Principal Mike Dahmen and Michael Anderson Elementary's outstanding readers.

Last year, about 6,000 Washington students completed the challenge. We’re hoping to do even better this year. I always look forward to receiving letters and e– mails from young people all across our state. They tell me about their reading successes, their love of reading, even their career plans. These earnest reports are a joy to read. They are filled with enthusiasm, a sense of accomplishment, and, best of all, excitement about books.

We must do all we can to preserve and nurture this love of books and learning. By encouraging kids to read just 20 minutes a day, we are teaching them to enjoy one of life's most profoundly rewarding pursuits. It isn’t always easy to compete with television, video games and increasingly innovative toys and distractions. But it has never been more important.

Gary Locke
Gary Locke

Governor’s Priorities
News Highlights

Health Care for Children
Governor Locke announced that he will postpone collecting monthly premiums from most low-income parents of children whose health care is provided through Medicaid. The plan for the premiums, as approved by the state Legislature this year, called for parents of children getting Medicaid health coverage to start paying monthly per–child premiums of between $10 and $15, depending on family income. “Even these seemingly small premiums may be detrimental to low–income families,” the Governor said. “I feel strongly that the implementation of the premiums must be delayed.” The premiums were originally scheduled to go into effect July 1. The Governor's decision extends the effective date to July 2005.

"Washington has improved health care for children while taking steps to hold down costs of state–sponsored medical programs," the Governor said. "We're doing a lot of good cost–containment work in the Medicaid program. We can afford to delay this step for the time being."

Protecting our Oceans
Gov. Gary Locke emphasized the need for concerted action to protect oceans in responding to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy’s (USCOP) preliminary report on how to improve ocean conditions. The governor issued his comments to the commission in writing June 4. “While the Commission on Ocean Policy has devoted years to the production of this report, the hard work still lies ahead in implementing its recommendations,” the Governor said. “The people of Washington appreciate this study, but are exasperated and concerned that we are stuck in a cycle of 'report and no action.' If we are to improve the condition of our oceans and the marine life within it, we must have clear goals, measured outcomes, concrete timelines and the political commitment to achieve success.” The Governor’s response to the USCOP’s preliminary report can be viewed in its entirety at:

Saluting the Troops
Governor Locke met with personnel from the 92nd and 141st Air Force Refueling Wings at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane on June 9 to thank them for serving the state and the nation. “On behalf of the people of Washington, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for defending our security, our freedoms and our way of life,” the Governor said. “We salute your strength of character and dedication to duty. We owe you a debt of gratitude we can never repay.” The Governor met with approximately 30 Air Guard members of various units within the wing representing members who have returned from overseas missions.

National Leadership in Biotech
A new nationwide report ranks the greater Puget Sound area fifth in U.S. biotechnology clusters. According to the study, released this week by the Milken Institute, only a handful of metropolitan areas have succeeded on a scale necessary to ensure industry sustainability. “The recognition of the greater Puget Sound area as a leading biotech region underscores the hard work of the state as well as many public and private partners,” Governor Locke said. “With our highly educated workforce, leading research facilities and entrepreneurial spirit, Washington state is a natural concentration point for a variety of cutting edge science industries.”

Success Story: Ecology Scores Award for Clearing the Air
The Department of Ecology has won the prestigious Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America for its campaign “No–Idle Zone – Dare to Care About the Air.” The campaign was created to persuade parents, bus drivers and others to turn off their engines and help clear the air while waiting to drop off or pick up kids at school. When the program was tested last year at three elementary schools, idling was reduced by more than 50 percent. Six more schools will participate in the campaign in the next school year.

Upcoming Events
6/11: Summer Reading Challenge Kickoff, Seattle
6/11: SeaTac Airport Concourse Grand Opening
6/14: News Conference, Olympia
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