Open Government

WPC's Center for Government Reform's mission is to partner with stakeholders and citizens to work toward a government focused on its core functions while improving its transparency, accountability, performance, and effectiveness for taxpayers.

What's New

Health Care Bills Will Cost Us

January 19, 2010 in In the News
Wenatchee World
Wenatchee World
Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tax increases will cost even more Washingtonians their jobs

January 18, 2010 in In the News
Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal
Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal
Monday, January 18, 2010

Eminent domain and other reasons why people mistrust government

January 17, 2010 in In the News
Covington/Maple Valley Reporter
Covington/Maple Valley Reporter
Sunday, January 17, 2010

Budget solutions will require tough decisions and real reforms

January 17, 2010 in Publications

The Seattle Times published this op-ed on January 10, 2010.

Some leaders in Olympia are telling Washingtonians to shoulder a higher tax burden or the most vulnerable people in our state will suffer.

Details from liquor privatization hearing

January 15, 2010 in Blog

Yesterday the Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee heard public testimony on SB 6204 - Privatizing the sale of liquor. Prime sponsor Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-35) said this was the first time one of his proposals to break up the state's liquor monopoly has received a public hearing.

Here is the audio of Sen. Sheldon's testimony:

The Governor's office was skeptical of the proposal and expressed concern about the consequences of increased liquor sales (audio below).

The state Liquor Control Board shared the Governor's concerns (audio below).

The Governor has previously authorized increased liquor sales on multiple occasions since taking office. Here are some examples:

2009-11 state budget
Liquor Control Board Enhancement – $9.1 Million Near General Fund-State Increase
Several revenue-enhancing measures were i!
mplemented in the budget including opening five new state stores and te!
n new contract stores. Additionally, appropriations are provided for new retail strategies, including opening nine state stores on Sunday, opening state liquor stores on seven holidays, and opening six mall locations during the holiday season. Also, included in the total are other minor policy level changes impacting revenues.

2007-09 state budget
Sunday Sales – $3.9 Million General Fund-State Increase
Funds are provided to the Liquor Control Board to open 29 additional stores on Sundays. The Board shall report back to the Legislature in January 2009 on the effect these additional store openings have made on sales. In addition, these activities increase revenues for the Health Services Account and the Violence Reduction and Drug Enforcement (VRDE) Account.

(2005) HB 1379:
Requiring the liquor control board to implement a retail business plan to improve efficiency and increase revenue
The Board is required to expand store operations to include the Sunday opening of at least 20 state-operated liquor stores by September 1, 2005. The Board must select stores expected to gross the most revenues on Sunday. The stores must be open a minimum of five hours on Sundays. Contract liquor stores are permitted, but not required to open on Sunday . . .

The Board must implement an in-store liquor merchandising plan, including point-of-sale advertising and promotional displays. The Board is also directed to implement a plan for instore merchandising of brands, which may not include provisions for selling liquor-related items not previously authorized.

Washington is not alone in looking at privatizing state liquor monopolies. According to !

Eyeing the potential for saving money, officials in North Carolina, Virginia and Washington are considering eliminating state-run liquor stores, turning over the sale of booze to the private sector. Nineteen states control their liquor sales.

Republican Robert McDonnell, who will be sworn in as Virginia’s governor on Saturday (Jan. 16), made privatization of the state’s 300 liquor stores a central theme of his winning campaign last fall. He said it would raise about $500 million in one-time money for transportation, but critics say it will never pass the General Assembly because the state would have to give up about $100 million a year in revenue that helps pay for public schools, human services, prisons and other services.

Washington lawmakers held a hearing Thursday (Jan. 14) on a bipartisan bill privatizing liquor sales. Scrapping the current system would cost the state $322 million a year, !
but the money would be recouped through taxes collected from the privately-run liquor stores. “Is it a core function of the state to be selling alcohol? I don’t think so,” Washington state auditor Brian Sonntag told KING 5 news. Sonntag issued a report in December saying Washington could increase revenue from liquor sales by up to $350 million over five years with a privately operated system.

In North Carolina, privatization is as much a matter of accountability as it is a fiscal issue. Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) named a budget reform panel to examine the state-run liquor system after ordering North Carolina’s 163 local Alcoholic Beverage Control boards to go along with a ban on gifts and other ethics rules she imposed on other state agencies, according to the Charlotte Observer. Of the 19 states that control their liquor sales, North Carolina is the only one with local boards instead of a single state board.

Pennsylvania lawmakers considered priv!
atizing the 619 state-owned liquor stores in 2008, but the legislation !
never came up for a vote.

State government closures proposed

January 15, 2010 in Blog

The Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Sen. Margarita Prentice (D-11), has introduced a bill to close state government for 16 days over the next two years. Here are details from SB 6503 - Closing state agencies on specified dates:

From the effective date of this section until June 30, 2011, state agencies of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches shall be closed on the following dates in addition to the legal holidays specified in RCW 1.16.050:
(a) Friday, March 12, 2010;
(b) Friday, April 9, 2010;
(c) Friday, May 28, 2010;
(d) Monday, June 14, 2010;
(e) Friday, July 2, 2010;
(f) Friday, August 6, 2010;
(g) Friday, September 3, 2010;
(h) Monday, October 11, 2010;
(i) Friday, November 12, 2010;
(j) Monday, December 27, 2010;
(k) Friday, January 14, 2011;
(l) Friday, February 18, 2011;
(m) Friday, March 11, 2011;
(n) Friday, April 15, 2011;
(o) Friday, May 27, 2011; and
(p) Friday, June 10, 2011.

(2) If the closure of an office of an agency of the state under this section prevents the performance of any action, the action shall be considered timely if performed on the next business day . . .

(4) The closure of an office of a state agency under this section shall result in the temporary layoff of the employees of the agency. The compensation of the employees shall be reduced proportionately to the duration of the temporary layoff. Temporary layoffs under this section shall not affect the employees' vacation leave accrual, seniority, or sick leave credits. For the purposes of chapter 430, Laws of 2009, the compensation reductions under this section are deemed to be an integral part of an employer's exp!
enditure reduction efforts.

Section 3 of the bil!
l lists the exemptions to the ordered closures.

Weekly wrap: States could hand off liquor stores

January 15, 2010 in In the News
Friday, January 15, 2010