Redmond, WA Christine Gregoire made many promises during her 2004 gubernatorial campaign, many of which have not been kept. From stem-cell research and a "Jobs Council," to not raising taxes and eliminating tax loopholes, the governor has failed to act on some of her most prominent pledges of four years ago.
Here are some of Gregoire's '04 promises and their current status:
Promise: Invest in a Life Science Discovery Fund that will help create thousands of jobs and start the Washington Institute of Stem Cell Research.
Reality: One of the centerpieces of Gregoire's 2004 campaign, Gregoire dumped the idea of a "Washington Institute of Stem Cell Research" after a month in office.
Since then, the University of Washington established the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM) thanks to private funding. In fact, Governor Gregoire sent the message that the state wasn't going to lead any efforts to provide funding.
And what about job creation due to the Life Science Discovery Fund? Minimal, if any. To date, the Life Science Discovery Fund has given six grants which were all fully funded through private donations.
Promise: Not raise taxes. "I said 'no' when I was pressured during the primary to support higher taxes."
Reality: The day she was certified as governor, Gregoire quickly backpedaled on this promise. Since then, she raised taxes by nearly $500 million, including the Estate (aka "Death") Tax, and pushed through the largest gas tax increase in state history.
Promise: Eliminate tax loopholes and look at more than 430 tax exemptions.
Reality: Gregoire has not eliminated one tax loophole in her three-plus years as governor.
Promise: Nurture small businesses, so there will no longer be more small businesses that fail than are created.
Reality: According to a study from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Washington has the third highest small business failure rate in the nation.
Promise: Cut red tape and blast past the bureaucracy.
Reality: We're not sure what red tape or bureaucracy Gregoire has eliminated. However, she's added 6,000 new state employees and more than doubled the size of the Governor's office.
Promise: Establish a cabinet-level "Jobs Council."
Reality: Christine Gregoire said she'd take on the task of chairing this department herself. No such council was ever created.
Promise: Make affordable healthcare available to everyone.
Reality: There are estimated to be over 600,000 uninsured people in Washington state, and a large portion are young adults ages 19-34 or small business employees. Christine Gregoire has done nothing to make health care more affordable for them, despite recommendations to do so by her own bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission on health care.
Promise: Take a "Fix it First, Fix it Right," approach to transportation infrastructure.
Reality: Despite Governor Gregoire pushing through the largest gas tax increase in state history, the same major transportation needs from 2004 still exist in 2008 with no specific replacement or funding plans. A few of the major problems that haven't been fixed:
- Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement
- North-South Corridor in Spokane
- Highway 2 in Snohomish County
Promise: Do not support a gas tax increase until taxpayers are convinced that the nickel-per-gallon increase approved in 2003 is being well spent.
Reality: During her first legislative session as governor, Christine Gregoire pushed through the 9.5 cent gas tax increase. This was the largest increase in state history.
Promise: Create an online, public searchable database of transportation projects, their timetables, their budgets, and their contractors.
Reality: No such transportation database exists.
Promise: Improve freight mobility. The constantly increasing rates of congestion in the Puget Sound and Spokane area are further limiting the efficient movement of goods and products.
Reality: Congestion has gotten worse and Gregoire refused to make congestion a transportation priority. Work on high profile, vital transportation projects such as the Viaduct, the 520 bridge, and the North South Corridor have been put off.
Promise: Modernize the funding system of Washington's Public Education system.
Reality: No funding plan exists. The Gregoire administration commissioned a Washington Learns taskforce, but 18 months and $1.7 million dollars later, they recommended further studies. The state is now being sued.
Promise: End the high school dropout crisis.
Reality: The high rate of high school dropouts continues. In several high schools across the state, up to 40 percent of those enrolling as freshman are not graduating.
Promise: Provide financial incentives to cope with the shortage of math teachers and address the "math gap" in our public schools.
Reality: There have been no major steps to offer financial incentives to all math teachers in Washington. Under Gregoire, the state is still struggling to put together an incentive structure to improve the teaching of math.
Reforms to the state's math standards under Gregoire have been reviewed, re-reviewed
and delayed. Meanwhile, math scores in this state have fallen farther behind.