Gregoire guts state services; Brown "commends" her

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Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed yesterday to slice government programs that appear to hit the state's neediest residents hardest, including eliminating the Basic Health Program and assistance for poor college students.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D-Spokane) endorsed the governor's move in a blog post, calling the cuts "numerous, deep and ... painful." 

Last week, the state economist said the government deficit had increased to $5.7 billion. As the Seattle P-I put it, the governor "had already imposed an across-the-board 6 percent cut. That's on top of cuts lawmakers made earlier this year to deal with a $2.8 billion shortfall. Prior to that, billions of dollars had already been eliminated."

Among the latest cuts the governor is proposing:

• Putting off financial aid funding to 2012 for State Need college grants, saving $76 million

• Eliminating the Basic Health Program, saving $33.7 million

• Eliminating state funding for more resources that would go to kindergarten through the 4th grade, saving $81.5 million

• Eliminating the state-only food assistance program, saving $9.6 million

Though she endorsed the move, Sen. Brown said lawmakers must be wary before charging ahead.

"We must also keep in mind that the services on this list make a real difference in real people’s lives, and it can literally be a difference between being healthy or sick, being warm or cold, being well or in pain," she wrote. "The people who will be affected by these cuts have nowhere else to go. They’ve already exhausted all their options, and I want to make sure we exhaust all of ours before we make a decision like this."

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