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Office of Governor Gary Locke
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Gov. Locke's statement on Senate Ways and Means budget proposal

"The Senate Ways and Means budget proposal for the 2001-03 Biennium makes a good effort to solve the difficult problems we all face this year. And it provides creative solutions to some tough budget issues.

"By using the surplus assets in Plan 1 of the Law Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters Retirement System (LEOFF Plan 1) to support state programs, this budget proposal helps us all avoid making onerous cuts to social service and health care programs that are important to our children and the elderly.

"I'll support this plan because it allows us to maintain the safety net for our most vulnerable citizens while guaranteeing that every member or retiree in LEOFF Plan 1 will get every pension benefit they were promised.

"I appreciate that the Senate has provided $75 million to deal with impacts of both the recent earthquake and drought conditions across the state.

"I am pleased to see that the Senate Ways and Means salary package adds more for state workers and higher education faculty across the board. But I am disappointed that additional pay was not provided for those state workers whose salaries lag far behind pay levels for the same positions in the private sector.

"I am concerned that the Senate Ways and Means package cuts funding for public schools by $88 million. There's no funding for our successful reading programs. School safety funding is less than we had hoped. And there is no funding for additional education reforms needed to help low-performing schools, spark innovations in school management and allow schools to voluntarily explore some performance-pay options for teachers.

"In addition, the Senate Ways and Means proposal provides only two-thirds of the higher education enrollment increase I proposed in order to give our children more opportunity to get a college education.

"I am concerned that the Senate Ways and Means proposal would pull more than $20 million from childcare and job-training programs that help people in our WorkFirst welfare reform program get jobs that will keep them off welfare - especially at a time when our economy is softening.

"And I will be looking closely at the Senate Democrats' budget proposal for our prison system, where it appears a recalculation of costs for maintaining the corrections system could lead to overcrowding and safety problems, and where our capacity to improve parole supervision is reduced.

"I fully recognize the difficult fiscal environment we are in. And I am ready to work with the Legislature to reach agreement on a budget that moves the state of Washington forward."

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