State Sen. Steve Litzow pledges bipartisan cooperation

January 12, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 10 a.m. Jan. 12, 2011

State Sen. Steve Litzow, a freshman Republican from Mercer Island, indicated a willingness to cooperate with Gov. Chris Gregoire and other Democrats as leaders tackle a vast budget gap.

Gregoire urged legislators to “be bold” in the State of the State address Tuesday. The governor called on the Legislature to refashion state agencies, programs and services.

The state faces a $4.6 billion hole in the budget for 2011-13. Evergreen State residents could face increased fees and reduced services from state agencies and larger class sizes as a result of widespread cuts.

“The governor acknowledged our fiscal problems, admitted the state has over-stretched its resources, and clearly recognizes that education is our paramount duty,” Litzow said in a statement. “Her ideas for change are not yet vetted through the legislative process and public testimony, but I am optimistic that the best solutions for our state will prevail.”

Litzow, a former Mercer Island councilman, represents Issaquah and the 41st Legislative District.

Legislators last month slashed $1 million from the Issaquah School District through June. (Litzow and another Issaquah state legislator, Rep. Glenn Anderson, voted against the cuts.)

Gregoire has proposed slashing another $3.17 million from the district in the year ahead. Schools and other public agencies could endure deeper cuts as lawmakers meet to haggle about spending priorities.

“You will have to make decisions that will make life harder for people back home,” Gregoire declared in the annual address. “And you will have to make decisions that may keep you awake at night, because in your heart, they just seem wrong. I know because I have had all those thoughts while drafting the budget I have presented to you.”

Litzow said the proposals Gregoire offered for restructuring the state pension system and the Basic Health Plan for the poor merited additional consideration.

“I look forward to being part of the solution with the governor and my colleagues across the aisle,” he said.

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