OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington state governor-elect Jay Inslee will take office in January facing a projected $900 million deficit for the next two-year budget ending in mid-2015, not counting money lawmakers will need to spend to improve funding for education as directed by the state Supreme Court earlier this year.
Inslee, a Democrat who will succeed Gov. Chris Gregoire next year, has said that he will work to make government more efficient and that he would be able to balance the state's budget without new taxes.
"There's going to be a lot of conversations to be had about ways we will have to make efficiencies, and what the real priorities are that we have to fund," Inslee spokesman Jaime Smith said Wednesday. "There's going to be a lot of hard choices to make. We just aren't going to be able to afford all of the things we have been doing."
On Wednesday, Inslee announced that he had appointed three people to lead his transition team:
Microsoft General Counsel and Executive Vice President Brad Smith, Renton School District Superintendent Dr. Mary Alice Heuschel and Washington State University President Dr. Elson Floyd will co-chair the transition committee. Brian Bonlender will serve as transition director. A Yakima native and Washington State University graduate, Bonlender served as chief of staff to then-Congressman Inslee and was a senior adviser on the 2012 campaign.
Inslee said he hopes to attract independents and Republicans to serve in his administration.