With the state's looming $4 billion budget deficit in mind, the Office of Financial Management has finally issued its list of financial priorities for 2009-11. The goal: keep state spending to a minimum. The result: cuts. Lots.
While Gov. Chris Gregoire will unveil her own budget recommendations sometime next month, items in the OFM report categorized as "do not buy" are likely to be tossed when the budget is finalized by state lawmakers.
Rich Roesler at the Spokeman-Review took a close look at the "do not buy" items. Among them are:
- The state subsidy to the University of Washington Medical Center: $32 million.
- Pay hikes to encourage child care teachers to increase their education in early learning: $50 million.
- The state's "Family Policy Council," which "is responsible for developing community-based comprehensive plans for the prevention of selected problem behaviors, based on data, community input, and the risk and protective factor analysis." (That seems to mean that they try to head of juvenile crime.) Price: $7.7 million.
- The Family Medical Leave program, a proposal to give new parents a weekly $250 stipend for up to 5 weeks if they take unpaid time off to bond with a new child. Price: $13.5 million.
- Promotion of horse racing by the state Horse Racing Commission: $3.6 million.
- A state campaign to "increase awareness of underage drinking and motivate parents to talk to their children about drinking." Price: $5.2 million.
- A new $3,500-a-year professional certification bonus to new teachers when they're issued their certificates: $55 million.
- The Legislative Committee on Economic Development and International Relations, a group chaired by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen (who appoints the committee members, too), with the goal of "providing responsive and consistent involvement by the Legislature in economic development." Price: $523,000.
- The state Productivity Board, which encourages state workers to come up with good ideas to save money. Price: $648,000.
- Performance audits of government agencies, to see how efficiently and effectively they're doing their jobs. Price: $27 million.
- The state auditor's telephone hotline program "to report waste, inefficiency or abuse." Price: $1 million.
- Opening 5 new liquor stores by 2011. Price: $1.6 million.