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September 16, 2004

Message from the Governor

The people of Washington depend on state employees every single day, and in spite of resource constraints and rising demands, our hard-working, dedicated and talented team consistently delivers superior programs and services, while also striving to improve and find new ways to better help the public. I believe that we have the best state employee team in the country, right here in Washington.

This spirit of excellence in helping others goes beyond the workplace and long hours on the job. Washington state employees are also number one in America in charitable giving for comparably sized states. Washington is one of only four states to give more than $5 million, a truly impressive level of generosity. Our charitable giving program—the Combined Fund Drive (CFD)—kicked off its 20th campaign on September 15.

There is a special feeling we experience when we provide help to others. There are many people who, through no fault of their own, are experiencing difficult circumstances. As a community, we owe it to these people to help them in their time of need. It has been said that a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members. The success of our Combined Fund Drive illustrates the kind of society we value here in Washington.

Quote of the Week
“Thank you to the Combined Fund Drive volunteers and our state employee and retiree donors. You generously serve our state and prioritize philanthropy. Not only do you give to your favorite charities, but you give generously.”
—Governor Locke, September 16, 2004

But it's not just the vulnerable in our society who benefit from the Combined Fund. Virtually all of us have personally benefited from the services and support provided by the many non-profit organizations involved in the Combined Fund Drive. Whether it's a loved one healing through an innovation discovered through medical research, or walking a serene trail that's been protected and maintained, or a child receiving a valuable scholarship, or friends being helped during natural disasters like Hurricane Frances and our own state's wildfires, we are all touched by the services these organizations provide.

We are making a difference in our community by participating in charitable giving. And we are helping ourselves feel better about our place in the community.

We are fortunate that the Combined Fund Drive makes it easier and more efficient to give to charity. Life is often hectic. It can be hard to find time to research and coordinate charitable giving. But the Combined Fund Drive makes it much easier, with one annual decision that is carried out for the rest of the year. And we don't even have to get out our pen and checkbook!

Will we achieve another record setting campaign? Only you and I can make that happen by looking at what matters most to us, selecting our favorite charity, and making an investment in our community and our world.

Gary Locke
Gary Locke

Governor’s Priorities
News Highlights

Reaching Agreement with State Workers
Governor Locke announced September 13 that the state has reached tentative contract agreements with two major state employee unions. The tentative agreements are with the largest state-worker union, the 30,000-member Washington Federation of State Employees, and the 5,200-member Teamsters. Both agreements call for a 3.2 percent wage increase starting July 2005, plus second-year increases that expire after the 12 months they are in effect. Both contracts would address pay for employees—such as social workers, park rangers and dental assistants—whose salaries have lagged far behind market rates for workers in similar jobs. The agreements also hold the line on health care costs for state employees, reflecting a multi-union agreement earlier this month that would limit employee contributions for health care to 12 percent of total premium costs.

“I commend both sides for working together to make this happen,” the Governor said. “We have entered a new era of labor relations in our state where unions can negotiate directly with the Governor's Office. It's an opportunity to provide even better, more cost-effective services to state residents and build a better workplace for employees. I want to especially thank chief negotiator Eva Santos for all of her hard work.” This year's contract negotiations mark the first time in state history that unions have been able to bargain with the state for wages and benefits. The 2005 Legislature will have the role of approving or rejecting the cost of the agreements. For more information on collective bargaining and personnel system reform in Washington state government, go to the Washington Works website at

GET Started Planning for College
Rising college tuition and an unpredictable stock market have driven people saving for college away from traditional investments and made Washington's Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program the fastest-growing prepaid tuition plan in the country. With GET, the state of Washington guarantees that the money families set aside for college will keep pace with tuition increases. And unlike other prepaid plans, Washington's tuition guarantee is backed by state law.

Washington families opened more than 8,000 new GET accounts in the 2003-2004 enrollment year - a nearly 22 percent increase over the previous enrollment year. GET officials hope that more Washington families will take advantage of this state program and lock in the cost of their children's future college tuition today. GET's new enrollment period runs from September 15, 2004 through March 31, 2005. To learn more about the GET program, visit the GET Web site at or call toll-free at 1-877-438-8848.

Teeing Off for Kids
Governor Locke hosted the fourth annual Governor's Cup Charity Golf Tournament on September 13, raising close to $400,000 for the Governor's Scholarship program benefiting foster children in Washington state. “A college education is part of the American dream, and every child deserves a real chance to have this dream come true,” the Governor said. “Too many foster children in our state are unable to pursue higher education or are forced to drop out halfway through college due to financial constraints.” The Governor's Scholarship program was established in 2001 to help children in state-recognized foster, group and kinship care enroll in and complete college in Washington state. The students receive full, four-year scholarships. This year, the Governor awarded 28 scholarships—the highest number to date. The Governor's Cup Charity Golf Tournament is the primary funding source for the scholarships, as no state money is used. The past three golf tournaments have raised a total of more than $800,000.

Planning for the 2010 Olympics
Governor Locke has established the Governor's 2010 Olympics Task Force to prepare the state for the opportunities and challenges associated with the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, BC. “The 2010 Olympics represent great opportunities in trade, tourism and economic development for Washington state,” the Governor said. “At the same time, the large influx of visitors from across the globe—many of whom will travel through Washington—will likely to create major impacts in security, transportation, and other infrastructure.” Though there is currently no state funding for the work of the task force, the tremendous opportunities and impacts created by this global event prompted the governor to begin the coordination process now.

Upcoming Events

9/16-24: Trade Mission to China and Vietnam

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