Topic: Chris Gregoire
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January 16, 2013 at 10:22 AM
Jay Inslee officially became Washington state’s 23rd governor at a swearing-in ceremony Wednesday morning inside the state Capitol building.
Breaking with tradition, the new governor took the oath of office in the rotunda of the Capitol, addressing supporters and onlookers in a brief speech afterwards.
“Let’s go build a working Washington,” Inslee said to loud applause, before hugging his wife, Trudi.
The oath was administered by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen.
Beforehand, well-known environmental leader Denis Hayes offered a few remarks.
“Jay didn’t run for office because he really, really, really wanted to be governor,” said Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation. “He ran for office ,because he really, really, really wanted to get some important stuff done.”
Hayes, who is credited with founding Earth Day, said that “more than any other president or governor” in history, Inslee has a mandate to address climate change.
About 250 people watched the proceedings, sitting on the steps to the legislative chambers or jostling for prime viewpoints along the rails of the surrounding balconies. A Bainbridge Island High School music band blared ceremonial music as Inslee exited.
Inslee was scheduled address a joint session of the Legislature at 11:30 a.m.
The Democrat enters office two days into a 105-day legislative session in which lawmakers will have to close a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall and respond to a state Supreme Court order to increase education funding. Inslee has pledged to do all of that without raising taxes, although fellow Democrats are skeptical that it can be done.
Inslee, a 61-year-old longtime congressman born in Seattle, defeated Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna in the November election. He succeeds Chris Gregoire, a Democrat who gave her final State of the State address Tuesday.
The new governor will celebrate his inauguration with a basketball game Wednesday afternoon and a formal inaugural ball Wednesday evening. Some 5,000 people are expected to attend the ball.
January 15, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Note: This post has been updated with a response from Dan Sytman, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.
Outgoing Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, who joined a lawsuit against President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, appeared to show support for the law during Gov. Chris Gregoire’s farewell speech Tuesday.
McKenna’s gesture was small — he stood up, along with a group of mostly Democrats, to applaud a reference to the law, while most GOP members stayed seated.
Dan Sytman, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said later that McKenna’s applause “was not a statement of one kind or another.”
But the move did not go unnoticed by reporters and others eager for intrigue in a mostly uneventful State of the State address.
The gesture came after Gregoire noted that Washington was “among the first in the nation to implement the Affordable Care Act” and then asked lawmakers to “embrace this historic opportunity to give every Washingtonian the health-care coverage they deserve” — a reference to the optional Medicaid expansion included in Obamacare — because “every Washingtonian deserves an open door to the doctor when they need one.”
The Legislature is currently deciding whether to accept the Medicaid expansion, which the federal government has promised to pay for in its first years but may cost the state in the future. Democrats generally support the idea while many Republicans say it may be too costly.
During an unsuccessful run for governor last year, McKenna did not say whether or not he supports the expansion.
He framed his decision to join the lawsuit brought by other attorneys general as related to a provision of the law that requires all citizens to buy health insurance. But the suit would have overturned the entire law.
At another notable moment Tuesday, McKenna sat silently with other Republicans as Democrats stood to cheer a reference from Gregoire about the state’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage.
Before Gregoire spoke, McKenna was one of three departing state officials to give farewell talks of their own.
“It has been an extraordinary journey,” McKenna said in the short speech. “Thank you all very much.”
January 15, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Gov. Chris Gregoire reflected on a tumultuous eight years in office during a Tuesday farewell speech before a joint session of the Legislature.
Delivering her final State of the State address as part of an emotional and ceremonial day, Gregoire recapped accomplishments and challenges before concluding that Washington is “the greatest state in the nation.”
The Democrat made just two requests of the lawmakers crammed into the state House chambers: increase funding for education and transportation, in part, through raising taxes.
“Today is the day,” Gregoire said. “Now is the time. We must invest in our children and their future.”
But the governor spent most of her speech running through a laundry list of achievements, from investing in broadband Internet and combining several programs to create a state Department of Early Learning, to investing in clean energy and legalizing same-sex marriage.
She emphasized transportation, noting that $16 billion in construction projects were approved in her tenure — the most in state history.
“We — not the next big earthquake or windstorm — are knocking down the old (Alaskan Way) Viaduct, the 520 bridge and the Columbia River Crossing Bridge and we are building the future of the great state of Washington.”
But the governor also focused on budget cuts and what caused them — “the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression.”
“You were tested,” Gregoire said. “I was tested. This was not what I expected. It wasn’t what anybody expected. But we stepped up.”
Gov.-elect Jay Inslee, a fellow Democrat, will be sworn in Wednesday.
Before Gregoire’s speech, the Legislature recognized three other state officials leaving office: eight-year Attorney General Rob McKenna, 12-year Secretary of State Sam Reed and 20-year State Auditor Brian Sonntag.
Others attending the address included former Gov. Mike Lowry, King County Executive Dow Constantine and the fiancee of Washington state trooper Tony Radulescu, who was fatally shot in February during a traffic stop.
October 25, 2012 at 3:34 PM
Gov. Chris Gregoire on Thursday dismissed claims by both gubernatorial candidates that they can put more money into education without increasing taxes.
The governor said in the past that new taxes would be needed, but took time Thursday to dismantle proposals that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee and his Republican opponent Rob McKenna have made.
For example, Gregoire said, streamlining government using the “lean management” principles Inslee has discussed will not free up enough money for education. The governor said she’s already gone that route as a way for state agencies to meet growing demand.
She notes state budget cuts have already eliminated thousands of state jobs, yet the population and need for services keeps growing. Lean management, she said, is a way of “coping with the dramatic cuts” and will not be a way to pay for education.
Gregoire, who has endorsed Inslee, also said the next governor is unlikely to close significant tax breaks, which both candidates have talked about as a way to raise money.
The governor noted she talked about closing tax breaks when she first ran for governor and got almost nowhere. Closing tax breaks requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate, which is nearly impossible, she said. Plus, “You will always find a constituency that will say … you’re going to eliminate jobs” if a tax break is eliminated.
She took aim at McKenna’s proposal to fund education by limiting non-education spending to 6 percent increases per biennium. McKenna has said capping non-education spending will shift a growing share of the state budget to schools.
Gregoire said the next governor can’t simply shut the doors to prisons or health care services if they reach their budget cap. “That’s a nice hypothetical. You need to understand as governor you don’t have that much discretion over the budget. When your caseload is what it is, you must fill it,” she said.
The governor said she will have some kind of proposal to raise money in her budget that will be released later this year. The state Department of Revenue is working on several proposals, she said, and no decision has been made.
“I would be remiss to sit here and do nothing about education. I have to, as part of my budget, put forward how I am going to solve what is approximately $1 billion (in additional funding) for the next biennium in K-12 education,” she said.
When asked how she felt about both gubernatorial candidates making budget claims that she considers unworkable, Gregoire noted the date and time she will leave office. “On Jan. 16 at 12:01, welcome to my world.”
October 23, 2012 at 4:15 PM
The race for state Senate in the 5th district is getting even uglier.
Republicans, after months of accusing Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire of conspiring with former Republican state Sen. Cheryl Pflug so Democrats can take her 5th Legislative District seat, believe they have fresh evidence.
The new material, a group of emails released in response to a public records request, show that Gregoire chose Pflug for a $92,500-a-year job on the Washington Growth Management Hearings Board despite the fact that Pflug filed the application late and Gregoire’s staff initially didn’t think Pflug had enough legal experience for the job.
Pflug eventually got the job and resigned her Senate seat after the candidate filing deadline, leaving Republicans with inexperienced candidate Brad Toft. Pflug then endorsed Toft’s opponent, Democrat Mark Mullet.
Karina Shagren, a Gregoire spokeswoman, said Pflug got an extension because she “was in the middle of a crazy legislative session.” Shagren added that the staff eventually determined Pflug was qualified due to her legislative experience.
“Any idea that the Republicans are throwing out there that this is some conspiracy to harm them is absolutely false,” Shagren said.
For more on the newly-released emails, read this story by Associated Press reporter Mike Baker.
Liberal groups, meanwhile, have been sending out mailers hammering Toft for several minor criminal and civil cases against him from the 1990s.
One of the mailers, funded by a labor coalition, shows a photo-shopped image of Toft in jail. It also notes Pflug’s endorsement.
Another mailer, paid for by state Democrats, focuses on alleged lies by Toft.
As in the past, Toft dismissed the mailers as a distraction.
“I have kids at home that have to see these kinds of over-the-top images,” he said. “But what I take particular offense to, is that after doorbelling for 6 months, I am in a lot better shape than that image gives me credit for.”
He added, “This mail piece lends itself as more evidence of collusion between Mark Mullet and Cheryl Pflug in the governor’s growing bribery scandal.”
October 10, 2012 at 4:47 PM
So the last elected state senator in the 5th Legislative District, a Republican, has endorsed the Democrat to succeed her. And now the underdog running for the state House in that district, a Democrat, has endorsed the Republican for the Senate seat.
North Bend educator David Spring, who’s running against Republican Chad Magendanz for state representative in the East King County district, on Wednesday released a blistering, 12-page memo detailing what he called “evidence of corruption” involving the last elected state senator , Cheryl Pflug, the Democrat Pflug has endorsed to replace her, Mark Mullet, and Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Spring alleges, as several Republicans have, that in return for a high-paying job in state government, Pflug purposefully resigned after the filing deadline so as to leave the GOP with the inexperienced Brad Toft to take on Mullet, a member of the Issaquah City Council.
Pflug, a moderate Republican, did resign just days after the filing deadline to take a $92,500-per-year job with the Washington Growth Management Hearings Board. And she did endorse Mullet, a Democrat, to replace her. But she has dismissed the corruption allegations as ridiculous.
Spring apparently disagrees.
“This report details 20 facts which taken together prove beyond any reasonable doubt that this was a million dollar bribe which was arranged more than 3 years ago by Governor Gregoire and Senator Pflug,” he wrote in the memo, which was sent along with an endorsement for Toft.
Among Spring’s assertions are that the Hearings Board position was held open for a year before Gregoire picked Pflug to fill it, that Pflug never raised money for the Senate campaign she apparently was considering, that she graduated law school only a week before getting the six-year appointment (the position requires a law degree) and that Pflug and Gregoire went on a trade mission to Vietnam in 2010.
It adds up, Sprin, g says, to a $1 million bribe (the reward in salary and retirement benefits of six years on the Hearings Board) for Pflug to help Democrats take the state Senate seat, which could determine control of the chamber.
Cynara Lilly, a spokeswoman for the Mullet campaign, called the accusations “groundless.” And Pflug said of Spring’s memo, “It’s so silly that it’s hard to respond to.”
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