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Gov. Chris Gregoire visits Bremerton Rotarians

Gov. Chris Gregoire addresses Bremerton Rotarians at their luncheon at the Kitsap Conference Center at Bremerton Harborside Monday. - Steven DeDual/staff photo
Gov. Chris Gregoire addresses Bremerton Rotarians at their luncheon at the Kitsap Conference Center at Bremerton Harborside Monday.
— image credit: Steven DeDual/staff photo

Gov. Chris Gregoire is making sure Washington doesn’t get internationally left out in the rain.

“When it comes to education, we can’t shy away and we can’t wuss out,” she said at Bremerton Rotary’s luncheon at the Kitsap Conference Center at Bremerton Harborside Monday.

Gregoire spoke about local stimulus funds and new educational opportunities like the Washington Youth Academy and more baccalaureate degrees in community colleges. A question and answer session after the speech also brought up the topics of universal health care and the ferry system.

Gregoire said a bill sponsored by Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) will bring in more than $300,000 each year for investment and reinvestment in the city and how she challenged the Legislature to get rid of 100 boards she felt were a waste of time and taxpayers’ money. She also spoke about a $27 million grant that will finish work on Highway 16 to improve safety. She pleaded for a “sense of community” and the generosity to help a neighbor who has fallen on hard times.

The first topic the governor was asked to address was the ferry system. A question about the mismanagement of the ferries, Gregoire said the ferry system is not mismanaged, it is underfunded. When the car tab tax was done away with, so was funding for the ferries, according to Gregoire.

When asked about universal health care, she said she has some very strong feelings on the subject.

“We all want universal health care,” she said. “But, if we don’t reform the system, it really doesn’t matter.”

Gregoire was asked to field a question from Wayne Lindberg, finance and operations manager for the Bremerton School District. He asked the governor if a plan was in place to replace education stimulus funds which will end in 2011.

“No, there is not,” Gregoire said. “And I am very, very concerned.”

Gregoire added her belief that a fund should be set up for K-12 that would not have to compete with other services.

“If we don’t step up, we will not be internationally competitive in the future,” she said.

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