Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Consensus Rule Is Aim of Washington State's Governor-Elect Observers See Parallels between His Plans and Bill Clinton's on Taxes and Economy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Consensus Rule Is Aim of Washington State's Governor-Elect Observers See Parallels between His Plans and Bill Clinton's on Taxes and Economy

Article excerpt

THE transition team is hard at work preparing for an important "first 100 days." Task forces are being convened with representatives from all sides of knotty issues. The incoming chief executive is trying to make good on the image he set forth in the election campaign, which balanced Democratic Party principles with the need to revive a lagging economy.

But the man is not President-elect Clinton and the seat of power is not Washington, D.C., but Washington State.

Governor-elect Mike Lowry (D), like Mr. Clinton, has won cautious praise from many in the business community for his efforts at "consensus government." This is one of several interesting parallels between these two winners of November's election.

By considering moderate Republicans for some key posts and seeking views from many task forces, Mr. Lowry is "actively operating in this transition period as he campaigned," says Bill Jacobs, executive director of the Washington Forest Protection Association, sponsored by the timber industry. Lowry plans to consult a diverse "citizen's cabinet" throughout his tenure.

"It's very difficult to get consensus," Mr. Jacobs says.

Like Lowry with his task forces, Clinton will face this challenge when he holds his "economic summit." Lowry, however, has an advantage: State law requires that the budget be balanced.

A former congressman and Seattle University teacher, Lowry has a particularly difficult budget in the works. Although this state weathered the recession better than most, its economy is now fragile, with thousands of jobs in aerospace and timber lost or at risk due to industry troubles and environmental concerns.

State revenues, which have grown at an average annual rate of 22 percent for 30 years, are projected to grow at only a 9 percent rate during the coming two-year budget cycle. A $1.6 billion deficit is projected for the 1993-95 budget, assuming that salaries and programs are indexed to inflation, says Len McComb, director of Washington's Office of Financial Management. …

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