Veto saves performance audits
When Gov. Inslee made good on his threat to veto a record 27 bills passed by the Legislature if the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-controlled House couldn’t reach a budget by session end, we questioned his use of that power. After all, some of the bills he vetoed were ones he supported.
Legislators responded by over-riding most of those vetoes after they reached a budget agreement in an extended session, and the veto “stunt,” as we called it, accomplished nothing.
However, the power of the governor to veto legislation, all or in part, plays an important role in our form of government. Last week, Inslee proved that point true when he vetoed a section in the two-year budget that would have gutted the state auditor’s performance audit budget.
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In 2005, voters passed Initiative 900, which required the state auditor’s office to conduct performance audits of state and local governments and dedicated 0.16 percent of the state’s portion of the sales and use tax to fund the audits.
Over the past decades, these performance audits across the state have uncovered and reduced wasteful spending, and identified accounting and other practices that needed improvement. For everyone, except possibly some of the agencies being audited, it seemed money well spent.
But the audits, or at least the funding that pays for the audits, has been a target of legislators for years.
In last-minute, closed-door budget negotiations last year, legislators decided to cut $12.5 million from the performance audit fund. This year, another last-minute, closed-door negotiation process delivered a budget that would cut another $10 million from the fund. Combined, the two cuts represented more than 70 percent of the total budget.
It’s ironic that many of our legislators, elected to represent our interests on platforms promising to reduce government waste and fraud, would then vote to eviscerate the very agency that has done just that.
So thumbs up for the governor for vetoing the raid on the fund.
Kennewick creates commission
A regrettable Facebook post last month by Kennewick Councilman Bob Parks sparked furor in the Tri-Cities Latino community. But his comments, which we won’t give more attention to here, may have provided the necessary impetus for the city to take progressive steps to connect better with their growing Latino community.
This week, the Kennewick City Council voted unanimously to establish a mayor’s commission on diversity. Only four council members were present for the meeting: Greg Jones, Don Britain, Matt Boehnke and Paul Parish. Mayor Steve Young and council members John Trumbo and Bob Parks were absent.
Composed of seven city residents, the commission will be charged with engaging residents and businesses, identifying gaps in service, improving communications and services, identifying ways to promote diversity, encouraging citizen involvement with city government, recruiting candidates for city council and city commissions and making recommendations to the council on ways to better engage with its citizens.
Applicants for the commission will be screened by the city interview committee and the city council. Anyone interested in applying can download an application from the “Hot Links” section of the city’s website, bit.ly/KennewickApplication.
Thumbs up to city leadership for recognizing the need and being proactive.