OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Gov. Chris Gregoire said the Legislature needs to be bold as it tackles a state budget that is billions in the red and the state faces a moribund economy.
In her State of the State address Tuesday, the Democratic governor told a joint session of the House and Senate that lawmakers need to remake how state government works, not just cut services to balance the budget.
She also says voters sent a clear message not to raise taxes.
Gregoire reiterated her proposals to create a Department of Education and change the state ferry system into a regional operation. Gregoire also wants to repeal automatic increases in pension plan benefits and cut more than $1 billion from unemployment insurance and workers compensation costs.
"I know change is hard, but this crisis is our force for change," Gregoire said. "Families, businesses and non-profits across this state have been forced to change to survive. We must do the same."
But Republicans had a chance to sound off to Gregoire's address, saying it's past decisions by the governor and Democrats that got the state into this financial mess.
"The days of irresponsible budgeting must end. It's time to close the gates on liberal spending," said Rep. Ann Rivers, R-18th District.
The Legislature began its 105-day session on Monday in Olympia.
CLICK HERE to read the text of Gregoire's State of the State address.