A somber Gregoire signs budget with education cuts



OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Chris Gregoire has given final approval to a new state operating budget that relies largely on cuts to education to fill a $5 billion budget shortfall.

Gregoire said Wednesday that she was signing the bill with a heavy heart, questioning whether she was undoing years of her own work. She said the education cuts were the hardest for her to swallow.

The spending plan reduces salaries for teachers by 1.9 percent and for administrative staff by 3 percent. It suspends programs designed to keep class sizes low.

Gregoire said the cuts were necessary because of the economy. She and the budget negotiators in the Legislature managed to fill the shortfall largely on spending reductions and without raising taxes.