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June 06, 2005

Interview with Governor Gregoire

Thanks to a sane ruling today by Judge Bridges and a blinding flash of the obvious on the part of Dino Rossi, Washington State will remain blue for the duration of the Legislative term and likely for three to seven more years – time enough to build on the agenda that Democrats have laid out and begun to accomplish in these last five months. 

National Democrats have been talking about how important it is to take a stand and put out a positive plan of our own, not just complain about what the Bush Administration is doing wrong.  In Washington State, our Democratic Legislature and Democratic Governor, working together, were able to lay out their agenda and get a tremendous amount of it done for the first time in a dozen years.

Despite a consistently negative campaign since last fall and the threat of this court case, Governor Gregoire has taken risks, led on the issues, shown her collaborative chops and done an all-around great job.  She is imminently practical and focused like a laser on the issues that matter to the working people of Washington State.  She has brought back a sense of paying attention to the long-term interests of the citizens of this state, historically a Northwest value, but something we haven’t had consistently in a long time. 

If you think who the governor is doesn’t matter, David Sirota tells us what some of the Republican governors have been up to: 

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens (R), for example, just vetoed a package of pro-worker bills.  Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) and Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (R) all rescinded collective bargaining rights for their state workers. And California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is waging a full scale assault on unions.

Our successful state agenda is clearly worrisome for the Republicans.  It’s no accident that Vice President Cheney is in town today fundraising for Representative Reichert; it gives him time to confer with the Rossi folks about what comes next.   

I interviewed Chris Gregoire last Friday, before the ruling, about how she feels about what she has accomplished in her time as Governor.  The interview is after the fold but I want to highlight her response to a question about what she would ask of us as citizens of this state.  She said:

We have beaten ourselves up in the last four years with the recession and the increased fear and the divisions across the country.  It is time for us to turn a corner and come together, put our differences behind us and focus on the future.  We need to take advantage of the opportunity we have now to create a vision and become great.  We don’t want to mirror Washington D.C.  We can seize this time and do it our way and in the process be proud of ourselves and prosper as well.

Interview with Governor Chris Gregoire

Q: What are you proudest of accomplishing in this Legislative session?

CG:  This was the most prolific and productive legislative session in recent memory.  It was a real partnership, the best in history. 

We fully funded the education budget.  We invested in the K-12 system by providing a dedicated source of income to meet the requirements of Initiative 728 and provide a lower ratio of teachers to students.  We provided $29 million for Special Education and created new slots for students to attend our colleges.

We reversed cuts from the previous budget in healthcare funding for children, covering a total of 40,000 children that would not have been covered and making provisions to cover the remaining 100,000 youngsters not now covered by insurance by the year 2010. 

We passed Transportation bills that will improve the quality of life for our citizens and provide good-paying jobs and give a boost to the overall economy.

Q: What are you proudest of doing outside the Legislative process?

CG:  Despite only ten days notice before the Legislative session began, I’ve filled the State Cabinet with the most diverse group of people we’ve ever had – people from both the public and private sectors, from out-of-state as well as in-state, people of color, and women.  These people are the face of this state.  We just had a retreat this last weekend and complemented each other quite well. 

Now we get to show the state that we are able to work together, that we are accountable and that we will get the work done.  We are cutting 1000 middle managers from the payroll.  We are inspiring, respecting and appreciating our work force.  I’ve also appointed 333 people to State Boards and Commissions.

And today, I am headed off to an Education Summit where we begin looking at how to get the biggest bang for our bucks in pre-K -12 and on into higher education.  On very short notice, 500 people are coming together to share with me what they think we need to do.  We will be addressing the achievement gap, opening up doors, and thinking about how we work together for the betterment of all our students. 

In the field of health care, we are giving people access to insurance who have not had it before.  We are thinking ahead to long-term care, aware that many folks don’t plan ahead and won’t be ready.  We want to see to it that people will have choices. 

With the establishment of the Life Sciences Discovery Fund, we are positioning Washington State to be the leader in the country if not the world in this critical area of finding cures for Parkinson’s and other diseases. 

On the environmental front, we’ve grappled with the drought situation and brought water to parched sections of Eastern Washington.  We are ready for any fires that might occur.

We’ve also established a Washington State Academy of Sciences that will enable us to make decisions based on science about what is right for our state, meaning the quality of our lives will get better.

Q:  What has been disappointing?

CG: Although I’ve not allowed it to distract me, I have been disappointed that the election contest has dragged on. 

What I’ve liked least is attending the funerals of the soldiers who’ve served in Afghanistan and Iraq.  A couple of weeks ago I attended a “Welcome Home” event for members of the 81st Brigade, a National Guard unit from Washington who’d been serving in Iraq.  The very next week I was at the funeral of one of the Guardsmen who’d stayed behind.

Q:  What would like us as citizens to do differently?

CG:  We have beaten ourselves up in the last four years with the recession and the increased fear and the divisions across the country.  It is time for us to turn a corner and come together, put our differences behind us and focus on the future.  We need to take advantage of the opportunity we have now to create a vision and become great.  We don’t want to mirror Washington D.C.  We can seize this time and do it our way and in the process be proud of ourselves and prosper as well.

Thank you. 

NWPT48

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 6, 2005 at 10:28 PM in Interviews | Permalink

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Comments

It is indeed remarkable that Governor Gregoire has been able to block out all the trash of the election contest and focus on doing her job and doing it effectively. The Republicans in the legislation had little reason to not try to undermine her first few months while the election contest was undecided, yet she was able to drive a landmark transportation plan out of them nevertheless. One can only hope that now that everyone knows she will be Governor for another 43 months they will all be able to work more effectively together for the betterment of all Washingtonians.

Thanks for this interview.

Posted by: Daniel K | Jun 6, 2005 11:35:30 PM

Great interview. Gov.Gregoire's a steel magnolia...can't imagine what it must have been like governing thro a leg session for the first time and having to put up w/the distraction of this invented "issue." They've declared war.

Posted by: michaelh | Jun 7, 2005 12:17:22 AM

Nice interview Lynn...The last day has been like a great weight lifting off of everyone's shoulders...

Posted by: Ben K. | Jun 7, 2005 8:19:18 AM

Gov. Gregoire needs to blow her horn a bit more. While I knew she got more done in her first week in office than Gov. Locke did in eight years I didn't realize quite how much she had done.

If she keeps up this pace she may turn out to be one of the most effective Governors this state has had.

Posted by: Chris S | Jun 7, 2005 10:16:30 PM

Governor Gregoire does need to blow her own horn more. I developed and wrote a campaign log for her for the last 10 weeks of the fall campaign and interviewed volunteers all over the state about what had prompted them to volunteer and what they liked about Gregoire. Many of them were new to politics and had come to her campaign with the most compelling stories about how Chris had fought for a cause close to their heart or worked with people on different sides of an issue to bring them together. They used the same words over and over to describe her - integrity, caring, collaborative, energetic, bright, focused on what matters in the long term. Several people told me that she was one of the brightest stars in a generation; hiring her to be governor was one of the greatest opportunities we would ever get.

Not exactly the image most of the public came away with, is it?

I am convinced that the Republicans at the very highest level have been working to damage her from early in the campaign to knock her out of national running early and decisively. I think that's what the right-wing radio programs and this nonsensical, protracted election flap have been about, even if Rossi has been lured into thinking something else.

But she may be able to swing around the public by her actions. At least she has some time now to do that - if only all of us can do our parts to counteract the lies that are still being told.

Posted by: Lynn | Jun 7, 2005 11:08:29 PM

Well put, Lynn. I couldn't agree more with your comments.

Posted by: Ben K. | Jun 8, 2005 2:34:56 PM

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