“My name is David Goldstein. I’m a citizen activist and a blogger, and if I’m going to sit at my computer criticizing the legislative process, I feel I have the obligation to come down to Olympia and engage in it.”
That’s how I opened my testimony today before the House State Government Operations & Accountability hearing on HB 1064, “Improving government performance and accountability” (Performance Audits). In case you’re wondering, I testified in favor of the bill.
I also attended the Senate Government Operations & Elections hearing, and curiously, Tim Eyman was nowhere to be seen at either… despite being so passionate about the issue, that he’s willing to spend $600,000 of other people’s money to get it on the ballot as an initiative. Instead, he just sat at home and sent out another fundraising email attacking the bill as a “cheap substitute.”
For my fellow lovers of fiction who also subscribe to Tim’s email list, let’s set the record straight on some of his comments:
I-900 allows true independence. All other proposals require the state auditor to beg and plead each year for funding FROM THE VERY PEOPLE HE IS GOING TO AUDIT.
Um… it’s not the Legislature that will be audited… it’s Executive branch departments and agencies.
And while it is true that HB 1064 does not have a dedicated funding source, other proposals do, such as SB 5083. If Tim bothered to attend the hearing, he could have suggested adding such a provision, although he might have chafed at SB 5083’s $2.5 million a year appropriation — a quarter that of Tim’s initiative. But then, what do you expect from the bill’s ultra-liberal sponsor: the Evergreen Freedom Foundation?
I-900 requires public exposure of the audit reports and ensures public involvement. … The audit proposals in Olympia keep the audit reports secret, hidden from the public, and released only to legislative leaders.
Yeah, that’s true… as long as your idea of a “secret report” is HB 1064’s requirement to post it to the Internet. Also secret I suppose, is the bill’s Citizen Oversight Board, that collaborates with the State Auditor on all audits.
I-900 holds all levels of government accountable. Under current law, the state auditor can conduct FINANCIAL AUDITS of state and local governments in Washington. … I-900 simply expands this existing authority so that the auditor can also do PERFORMANCE AUDITS of state and local governments.
First of all, Tim… STOP SHOUTING.
Second, State Auditor Brian Sonntag, to whom Tim wants to grant the independence to perform these audits, clearly stated his opinion about the initiative before both committees: “It is not the approach I prefer. I prefer a legislative and collaborative process.” Indeed, the idea of mandatory performance audits of all local agencies and accounts is so silly, that I actually provoked chuckles by mentioning the notion of auditing cemetery districts.
I should also note that while I-900 appropriates $10 million a year, the Auditor’s office estimates that it would actually cost $90 million per biennium, and take twelve years to ramp up his office to meet the initiative’s requirements.
Democrats are falling all over themselves to get in front of I-900’s speeding train.
Performance audits represent a bipartisan issue that, in one form or another, has passed the House several years running, only to be blocked in the Senate by Republican Pam Roach (who by the way, showed up for the hearing an hour and fifteen minutes late.)
So Tim, don’t give me any shit about Democrats following your lead. Rep. Miloscia has been pushing performance audits for six years, and with 46 co-sponsors, HB 1064 is sure to sail through the House once the language is finalized. Sen. Kastama plans to fast-track a companion bill through his committee, and there is no doubt that the final version will come to the Senate floor for a vote.
There is certainly some institutional resistance from the governor’s office, state agencies, and even the Joint Legislative Legislative Audit and Review Committee. So it may yet take a little arm-twisting to ease a bill through the Senate.
If Eyman really cares about performance audits, instead of just grandstanding the issue for personal gain, he’ll join me in twisting a few Senators’ arms once the time comes. But that seems unlikely, considering that nobody pays him to lobby the Legislature. (At least, not that he’s reported to the PDC.)
HB 1064 enacts comprehensive, independent performance audits, and has broad bipartisan support. If Tim Eyman has an ounce of integrity in his body, he’ll join me in helping State Auditor Brian Sonntag get the bill he wants.