Gregoire flies to DC for talks on defense cuts

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Gov. Chris Gregoire is headed to Washington, D.C. to urge key senators to stop proposed cuts next year to the Air National Guard.

Gregoire spokesman Cory Curtis said that Gregoire left the state on Tuesday and would be meeting Wednesday with Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In a letter sent to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last month, Gregoire says that under the recent budget proposal, the Air National Guard would assume 59 percent of cuts being proposed to the Air Force budget, something she says is unacceptable. Gregoire notes that a cut of that size would mean the elimination of an entire Air National Guard unit now serving in Afghanistan, in addition to cuts to equipment and other personnel currently serving within the state.

Gregoire will return to Washington state Wednesday night.