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Private lotto? Gov. Gregoire keeps cutting state budget
With the state Legislature only shaving $480 million from an approximate $2 billion state budget shortfall, Gov. Chris Gregoire shared her office’s ideas on more areas where state government could be trimmed and money could be saved.
The state has consolidated agencies and eliminated positions amid more than $10 billion in reductions to current and projected state spending.
“It’s been made clear — state government can’t do it all. We can’t afford to,” Gregoire said.
One of Gregoire’s continuing reforms would be to privatize the state lottery. The governor feels the private sector should see if it can operate the lotto at a lower cost than the state. According to the state, any savings achieved by this would still be funneled toward education funding through the Washington Opportunity Pathway program. That program is aimed at increasing the effectiveness of early learning programs and higher education programs.
“I want to see if the state lottery can be managed for less money through the private sector,” Gregoire said. “If it works, it could provide more funds to support critical education programs.”
With the recent passage of Initiative 1183, which took liquor sales out of the state’s hands, Gregoire feels the liquor board is no longer needed as a state-funded group. Instead of a three-person board, Gregoire said she hopes a single director can effectively manage the issue.
“The director and staff will continue to ensure safety through responsible licensing, and maintain our commitment to keeping our young people away from alcohol and tobacco,” she said. “But we don’t need a paid board for a system that will be mostly in private hands. If a board is needed, it should be voluntary, like the gambling and lottery commissions.”
The governor announced she will issue an executive order to get all state agencies abiding by “Lean process improvements,” a system designed by car manufacturer Toyota to “increase efficiency, decrease waste and use data to confirm results.” Several state agencies are already in the process of implementing these techniques.
“Lean is all about eliminating anything that doesn’t serve the customer efficiently and effectively, and we are embracing it across state government,” Gregoire said. “There is no question that Lean works. Boeing, which over the past year has donated two lean specialists to help us with Lean, told us…they will add two more.”
All of these changes come as part of the governor’s Directive 11-18, which ordered state agencies to “find savings through smart use of cellular communications, state vehicles, home assignment and personnel procedures.” Some additional examples of the state trying to reduce it’s costs include:
• Eliminating the mailing of renewal notices for a driver’s license and vehicle licenses to save $1 million in the current biennium, and $5.3 million in future biennia
• Extending the schedule for replacing vehicle license plates from seven years to 10, to save $1 million in the current biennia, and $4 million in future biennia
• Halting the printing of calendars for state agencies, a move designed to save $30,000 annually