Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
News Conference—End of Special Sessions
June 11, 2003

News Conference—End of Special Sessions
June 11, 2003

Good evening, and thank you for coming.

Today marks a great victory for our state. We were challenged to do the nearly impossible—and we have succeeded. Congratulations to the 58th Legislature.

The past few hours and days and even months have been an inspiring display of dedication, courage, resourcefulness and plain old hard work.

We passed a tax incentives package for the 7E7 final assembly, unemployment insurance reform, and injured workers’ compensation reform. These key measures are imperative in our effort to keep Boeing and other great companies in Washington.

This was also a session of very tough decisions. This biennium our state, like nearly every other state, faced the biggest budget deficit since World War II.

We made hard, painful choices about our priorities. Like a family during difficult times, we figured out how best to live within our means.

These are tough times. But this is an opportunity to move our state forward and set the stage for a brighter and more stable future for all of us.

It wasn’t easy to propose the Priorities of Government spending plan. There are many good programs we cannot afford to fund now because of the shortfall. And I know it was hard for the Legislature to enact them.

Even in difficult economic times, government remains committed to the health and well being of the people, and plans for the future and better times. This means Basic Health Plan reductions via attrition, keep health care for kids up to 250%, and continued prenatal care for thousands of women.

By our actions this session, a vibrant state economy and revenue base will improve our ability as a state to provide needed services to our most vulnerable children and adults.

Becoming a better friend and stronger business partner will help our state move ahead toward economic vitality—and toward the opportunities a healthier economy will give us as a state.

In addition to the remarkable accomplishments of the past 24 hours, I want to thank the members of the Legislature for their dedication and labor during the special session that ended last night.

The first special session ranks among the most productive ever seen in Olympia. The accomplishments were very significant:

· We completed work on a $23 billion General Fund budget that fits the difficult times we’re in and sets our state’s priorities

· The $2.57 billion approved construction budget means more than 13,000 new private sector construction and other family-wage jobs during the next two years. The proposal sustains 11,000 jobs in the two fiscal years that follow.

· We tackled the high cost of prescription drugs with legislation that will help bring relief to thousands. We don’t want Washington citizens ever having to choose between paying the rent and paying for medicine. Now we’re going to help reduce skyrocketing prescription drug costs in our state.

· We also addressed significant water-management reforms that are important steps toward reforming our water laws and ensuring we have enough water for future needs.

This has been a productive year in Olympia. The work of the 58th Legislature is now concluded.

Five months ago when we started, I said in my State of the State Address: “I believe we have uniquely promising opportunities to advance our agenda for a better Washington.”

And advance it we have. This year will be remembered as one in which the future of Washington was at stake—and we refused to let it slip away.

And we will press on in our commitment for a better Washington that will always be a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

Thank you.

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