Virginia’s new governor, Bob McDonnell, sounds like my kind of guy. Barely sworn in and already he’s advocating for a change that’s proven to save states money – privatizing the sale of liquor, wine and beer.
Here in Washington, we’re not so lucky. Even though some State legislators are calling for such a change in light of our current budget difficulties, Governor Gregoire opposes the idea, partly on the grounds that the State won’t realize any immediate savings.
When you’re in a tough time like this people put that idea out there, like that will save us,” Gregoire said. “(Auditor) Brian Sonntag’s report doesn’t show one penny for this biennium. Not one.”
I think almost everyone can see that if you never make the change, you’ll never realize any savings, but it’s a concept that appears to be just beyond the reach of Governor Gregoire. Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time she’s had difficulty recognizing whether or not something helps or hurts the State financially. As I outlined here, Gregoire once claimed that a $1.5 million settlement was a “good deal” for the State when compared to the $500,000 it would have cost to try the case.
Not to mention that this kind of short-sighted thinking surely has contributed to the State’s current fiscal woes. Just look at the way the budget gap was closed last year, with accounting tricks and one-time stimulus grants, with no apparent thought given to trying to address the root causes of the budget crisis. Hey, slap a Band-Aid on it and call it good!
Or it could be that she doesn’t dare risk any more lawsuits (and here) from the State employee’s unions. Quite understandably, the unions are reluctant to renegotiate, but persuading people to work together as a team is part of being a good leader, something about which Gregoire appears to be quite ignorant.
Stefan Sharkansky discusses the Governor’s claims in depth at Sound Politics.