Gregoire warns Washington state agencies of deeper cuts

Rattled by global economic uncertainty, Gov. Chris Gregoire has asked state agency leaders and front-line workers to start getting ready for budget cuts as deep as 10 percent, or $1.7 billion, in January – in case state revenue plunges again.

Marty Brown, the governor’s budget director, sent a cautionary memo Monday to agency budget directors, outlining each agency’s share of the potential cuts. Gregoire sent her own email message to line workers, asking for their help to find ways to deliver key services while streamlining government even more.

“Part of the key to fighting this recession is to continue working to get ahead of it,” Gregoire’s message to workers said. “For every two steps forward in the recovery, it seems we are taking one step back. Though our revenue collections have continued to show slight improvement this biennium, our near-term outlook has weakened.”

Gregoire asked agencies to identify a first tier of 5 percent cuts and a second tier of 5 percent more, or 10 percent total.

And it appears at first blush that agencies would have to revive ideas for cuts that proved too unpopular or horrific to follow through on before – such as the state’s funding of prescription drug services to adult Medicaid clients who are not being cared for in hospitals or nursing homes.

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