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Originally published Sunday, July 20, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Gregoire's office budget shot up

The governor's office budget has more than doubled under Christine Gregoire, to about $73 million for the 2007-09 biennium.

Few state offices have seen their budgets grow as much as the one closest to the governor.

Her own.

The governor's-office budget has more than doubled under Gregoire, to about $73 million for the 2007-09 biennium.

A large chunk of the increase is from existing programs moved by the Legislature into her office, and money that simply passes through on its way to another agency.

By next year, Gregoire's office and the Office of Financial Management together will have about 385 full-time positions. That's an increase of about 80 people — or 27 percent — since 2004. OFM is considered part of the governor's office and prepares her budget proposal each year.

Gregoire's office said the growth comes from a combination of jobs added by the state Legislature and programs created by the governor.

The Legislature added about 13 positions to the governor's office to handle duties that include an education ombudsman and facilities management. The governor created another 15 positions for a program that looks at ways to improve performance of state agencies.

Many other jobs were added when work that had been done in other state agencies was consolidated in the governor's office.

In addition, Gregoire gave double-digit pay increases to most of her top staff.

For example, the salary for the director of the governor's budget office has increased 24 percent since former Gov. Gary Locke left office, to $163,056. And pay for the Department of Corrections secretary is up 28 percent, to $147,000.

The governor's office has said it needed to raise salaries to attract and retain the best people to run state agencies.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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