Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Associated Press Forum
January 7, 2003

Good afternoon.

∑Iím glad to be here again for the annual Associated Press Statehouse Forum.

∑Let me especially welcome all the editors among you Ė those of you who actually control the reporters who frequent these hallways. Maybe I can find out what anti-acid you use to control the heartburn they cause you.

∑Of course, Iím joking. The Statehouse Press Corps do try their best to be fair and to get it right.

∑Iíd also like to welcome all of the fresh-faced journalism-interns among you. You personify my ideal of a relevant, progressive education. Youíre on the job now Ė actually doing what youíve mostly read and heard about doing.

∑You have a front-row seat at a very interesting legislative session. Good luck to you, and donít let the grizzled veterans make you too cynical!

∑Before I take your questions, Iíll say a little bit about the number-one issue this year Ė the state budget.

∑The state budget I am proposing for the next two fiscal years reflects three simple realities:

∑Money is very tight.
∑A general tax increase is not a wise option in a down economy.
∑We settled on priorities and made very hard choices to spend the money on those priorities.

∑In short, like many families suffering in this economy, we are putting some dreams on hold to pay for the things that matter most.

∑My $23 billion plan shows the citizens of this state what their tax money can buy, and it shows what we canít afford.

∑Iím presenting to the 2003 Legislature a budget that lives within our means -- a budget that cuts $2.4 billion in important programs and services that we just canít afford right now.

∑For the past six months, we have looked deeply and thoughtfully at those things state government simply must do. We called this process Priorities of Government.

∑This budget reflects those priorities. In short, this budget funds what matters most in getting the results people want from their state.

∑The legislative session is just beginning, and I havenít cornered the market on
good ideas. Thatís why we have a Legislature.

∑But I believe my proposal reflects a return to the fundamentals of what a state government can and must do.

∑The fundamentals are education, jobs, healthy families, safe communities, protection of vulnerable children and adults, and common sense.

∑I plan to be very engaged in the budget debate and discussion in coming months.

∑I believe I have given the Legislature an unusually clear set of priorities -- along with a clear explanation of how I arrived at those priorities.

∑As the House and Senate work over my proposal, I will expect them to keep faith with my approach Ė which is to recognize that we have limited resources and must make hard choices to pay for those things we simply must pay for.

∑Now, Iím ready to take your questions.

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