As much as anything, Gov. Christine Gregoire's first term in office is notable for one number: $8 billion.Can the state of Washington afford such increases in what the Democrats so mockingly refter to as the "Bush Economy?" According to the Times, no:
That's how much state spending has increased since Gregoire, a Democrat, was elected in 2004.
Another way of looking at it: The two-year general-fund budget has jumped 31 percent, to $33.6 billion. That's the largest percentage increase in the past 16 years.
Indeed, unless the economy quickly turns around, the state likely will face a multibillion-dollar shortfall next year.What has the money been spent on? Political payoffs to her allies, the teachers and state employees unions. Again from the Times:
Half of the $8 billion increase in state spending during Gov. Christine Gregoire's term has gone to pay and benefits.Some of it is from her own excess. The governor's office budget has more than doubled under Christine Gregoire, to about $73 million for the 2007-09 biennium.
Oh yeah, and about that promise the Queen made in 2004 not to raise taxes, the Times reports:
Gregoire and the state Legislature have approved tax increases that total about $150 million a year and reinstated an estate tax that brings in another $100 million annually.That estate tax threatens to drive Schweitzer Engineering expansion out of Pullman. That figure does not include the 9 1/2 cent gas tax that was approved in 2005.
Queen Christine has dutifully paid off everyone who helped her win a 129-vote victory over Dino Rossi in 2004. But does Washington deserve a governor whose policies are dictated by those special interests which have the cash to keep the Queen in public office, the only job she has ever known?
It's time for a change.