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November 10, 2008 4:31 PM

Gov. Gregoire: "I have no expectations I'll love my budget"

Posted by Andrew Garber

Gov. Christine Gregoire said in an interview this afternoon that pretty much everything is being considered when it comes to dealing with a projected $3.2 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget.

Except, she said, for using proceeds from a national tobacco settlement she negotiated in 1998 as the state attorney general. The settlement brings in millions of dollars to Washington, about $120 million alone next year. The money mainly goes toward paying for health care.

Otherwise, Gregoire said she's considering dozens of options, including suspending certain state programs and possibly eliminating some entirely. She wouldn't say which ones.

In addition, the governor said, lawmakers could soon face a choice of either giving state workers a pay raise or laying people off.

"I have been honest with labor unions all the way along, in which I've said to them: 'you want pay increases. Would you really advocate that that be done at the expense of people's jobs? Because depending on whether the national economy turns or not, that may be the choice.'"

Gregoire wouldn't tip her hand about what she plans to do in her budget, which is expected to be released in mid-December.

However, she said. "We're going to take cuts where I don't want to take cuts ... I'm not going to have much alternative. It is time to sacrifice."

The governor pledged during the campaign she would not increase taxes or fees to help balance the budget. She reaffirmed that message today.

Two years ago, when the economy was still humming, Gregoire proposed a budget with large spending increases and said at the time, "I love my budget."

That won't be true this time. she said. "I have no expectations I'll love my budget. It's not going to happen."

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Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Jennifer Sullivan
Covers the state Legislature from Olympia.

Chantal Anderson
Covers the state Legislature from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Writes about the city of Seattle and local politics.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Jim Brunner
Writes about money and power from Seattle.