Christine Gregoire was a panelist for the Forum’s discussions on Unprecedented Natural Disasters in a Time of Climate Change.
Chris Gregoire served as Washington’s 22nd Governor from 2004 to 2013 and was a tireless champion for the people of the state, their livelihoods and the communities in which they reside. Within her first 100 days in office, Governor Gregoire laid out ambitious plans to overhaul the state’s education system to help students build a better future. The Governor led the push for funding for all-day kindergarten, starting in districts with the greatest concentration of low-income students. She created the Department of Early Learning which was ranked as one of the best early learning programs in the country.
Also within the first 100 days of her administration, Governor Gregoire launched a bold plan to reform health care in Washington which came before the national Affordable Care Act and resulted in coverage for all low income children and one of the lowest health care inflation rates in the country.
Governor Gregoire asserted her goal to clean up Puget Sound by making it more “fishable, swimmable and diggable” during her administration. In 2007 she created the Puget Sound Partnership. This agency sets science-based priorities, spurs implementation of priority actions and ensures accountability so every dollar spent on restoration represents a wise, productive investment.
Governor Gregoire initiated a host of reforms to save taxpayer money. Chief among them were enacting the largest changes to the workers’ compensation system in a century to save an estimated $1.5 billion over four years as well as supporting a bipartisan package that helped businesses save $300 million in unemployment insurance. As the Governor left office, she left the unemployment insurance trust fund one of the healthiest in the nation. The Governor offered the first-ever amnesty on back taxes that brought in $343 million. She halved the unfunded liability in the state’s older pension plans for savings pegged at $7.6 billion over 25 years, making Washington’s public pension system one of the country’s most sustainable. The national award-winning Government Management, Accountability and Performance program created by the Governor measures whether citizens are getting value from the state programs their tax dollars cover. In 2011, the Governor introduced private sector-proven Lean techniques to streamline state government operations to save taxpayer money, drive efficiency and deliver measurable results.
Governor Gregoire made her mark, too, in the area of transportation. Early in her administration, she won approval for a landmark transportation package to create jobs and begin repairs of our roads and bridges.
Governor Gregoire’s commitment to promoting and expanding business and creating family-wage jobs in the state of Washington was evident in her “Next Washington” plan that laid out strategies and initiatives to encourage business development and growth. It helped lead to the creation of more than 200,000 jobs in Washington since during her terms as governor. Also during that time, Forbes magazine ranked Washington as the 2nd best state to do business and Fortune magazine ranked Washington in the top five to start a small business.
Reelected overwhelmingly by Washington voters in 2008 and facing a historic multi-billion dollar shortfall brought on by the uninterrupted and deep national recession, Governor Gregoire worked with the Legislature to balance the budget while supporting job creation and economic growth.
Prior to serving as Governor, Gregoire served three terms as Attorney General (1992 – 2005) and was the first woman to be elected to the position in the state of Washington. During her time in office, she worked on children’s issues, reformed the state’s juvenile system, led an effort to strengthen identity theft victims’ rights, worked to pass a new ethics law for state government and to find alternatives to litigation in resolving legal disputes. Her office, in conjunction with other state attorneys general, investigated and sued drug companies for allegedly violating antitrust laws concerning manipulation of the price and availability of prescription drugs.
Gregoire was a leading voice in the lawsuit against the tobacco industry in the 1990s. As the lead negotiator on behalf of 46 states and the territories, this lawsuit resulted in the largest financial settlement in history in the world. Washington State received a $4.5 billion share of the settlement, including a $500 million bonus for Gregoire’s lead role. In recognition of her leadership in the fight against the tobacco industry, Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund stated, “there isn’t a stronger tobacco control leader anywhere in the country than Chris Gregoire.”
Upon leaving the Governor’s office Gregoire has remained an active community member chairing the Import-Export Bank Advisory Committee, working on the Global Cities Initiative for Greater Seattle and serving as a board member for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She is also currently serving as a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Gregoire and her husband Mike always put family first. They have two daughters, Courtney and Michelle. Courtney is married to Scott Lindsay, is an attorney at Microsoft and serves as Co-President of the Seattle Port Commission. They have a daughter Audrey Christine. Michelle, married to Jeff Garrison, is a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney at the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
The Gregoire’s relish time with family and friends, traveling and most importantly babysitting their granddaughter Audrey once a week.