Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire wants the Legislature to pass a “bold agenda” that includes a sales tax increase, school reforms and a $3.6 billion transportation package.
In her State of the State address Tuesday, Gregoire proposed a 10-year transportation package she says will create about 5,500 jobs a year to maintain roads across the state. Gregoire said that state faces a $1.6 billion shortfall over the next 10 years just to maintain state highways.
Gregoire asked lawmakers to move quickly on patching a projected $1 billion deficit. In December, Gregoire proposed spending cuts that included a shortened school year, the elimination of social services for thousands of low-income residents and the early release of some prisoners.
She also has proposed a temporary half-cent sales tax increase that would raise nearly $500 million a year and offset some cuts – particularly in education. Gregoire’s sales tax proposal has a referendum clause, so if passed by the Legislature, it would have to ultimately be approved by the voters in November.
The state sales tax hasn’t been raised since 1983.
Gregoire also asked lawmakers to pass education reforms, including enhancing evaluation systems for teachers and principals, and creating opportunities for struggling schools to partner with universities.
Gregoire also called on lawmakers to pass a measure to legalize same-sex marriage. (AP)