HEADLINES : Washington
A somber Gregoire signs budget with education cuts
OLYMPIA, Wash. - A dejected Gov. Chris Gregoire gave final approval Wednesday to a new state spending plan, bemoaning in particular the sweeping cuts it makes to one of her prized issues: education.
Gregoire said the spending reductions - totaling $4.5 billion over the next two years - were necessary at a time of economic turmoil. But she was not pleased with the results of the last two-year spending plan she will sign before departing office in 2012.
"I undo how many years of my career? I'm going to undo how many of the things I've worked for?" Gregoire said. "I have a very heavy heart today."
Gregoire said she was particularly panged by the impacts on education, which bore the brunt of the reductions. The spending plan reduces salaries for teachers and classified educational staff by 1.9 percent while slashing pay for administrative staff by 3 percent. It suspends programs designed to keep class sizes low.
Higher education will also endure a large share of the cuts. To offset the spending reductions, Gregoire and lawmakers approved double-digit tuition hikes in each of the next two years.