Gregoire right to ask for some budget help

Chris Gregoire was re-elected governor Nov. 4, but from the way she’s talking, you’d think her opponent, Dino Rossi, won the election.

Chris Gregoire was re-elected governor Nov. 4, but from the way she’s talking, you’d think her opponent, Dino Rossi, won the election.

Chalk it up to the lousy economy and a looming state deficit.

Gregoire submits her budget to the Legislature today, just after she receives the final revenue forecast that will tell her - and us - how much money she has - or doesn’t have - to play with. The number being bandied about lately is that the state faces a deficit of $3.2 billion. Maybe she’ll get lucky today and it will be less.

But it won’t be that much less.

So, the governor already is asking for help. On a web page (www.governor.wa.gov/), there’s a link to a place where you can tell her how the state can save money and/or better manage what it has.

To her credit, Gregoire already has begun some steps:

She’s directed agencies to save energy and freeze hiring, equipment purchases, out-of-state travel, and personal service contracts.

Some agencies are considering a four-day work week.

Some across-the-board cuts and other budget savings measures already are in place.

She’s also engaged in what’s called the “Priorities of Government” process. That’s a strategic framework for investment decisions, such as:

What are the results citizens expect from government?

What strategies are most effective in achieving those results?

How should government prioritize spending to buy the activities that are most critical to implementing these strategies?

How will progress be measured?

Gregoire’s effort increasingly looks like it’s coming from a Republican, specifically taking a look at government functions and programs that might be better handled in the private sector or by nonprofits. All of this will be needed to balance the budget, especially since Gregoire has said she will do this without raising taxes.

It’s hard to balance a budget in a down economy. Some programs likely will be reduced - or even cut completely - to get the job done.

Gregoire’s right to ask the public for help. She’s going to need it.