Tag: governor (Page 1 of 2)

Gregoire’s Pay After Retirement Will Be Greater Due to Pensions

Whatever else stepping down as governor will cost Christine Gregoire, she doesn’t figure to suffer financially.

In fact, her state pension currently projects to be $3,000 a year more than she’s earning as Washington’s chief executive.

According to documents obtained in a public disclosure request by the Freedom Foundation, Gregoire’s pension was calculated last July by the Washington State Department of Retirement System at $169,248 annually.

He salary as governor is $166,899 — the 10th highest of any U.S. governor, while Washington’s population ranks it No. 13 in the nation.

By the time of her retirement next January at age 64, Gregoire will have worked a total of 40 years in state government, including 20 in non-elective offices and 20 as an elected official with two terms as attorney general and governor, respectively.

Under the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) Plan 1, Gregoire will receive a monthly check totaling $14,104, which includes $8,377 for her elected service and $5,724 for her non-elected positions.

PERS Plan 1, in which Gregoire participates, offers a single-life benefit, meaning she will receive the highest possible monthly payment and her beneficiary will not continue to collect her pension after her death.

She also opted for a plan that does not include an annual cost of living adjustment in order to maximize her payments immediately.

Gregoire’s husband Mike, who retired in 2003 after 30 years as a healthcare investigator in the Department of Social and Health Services, currently earns a pension of $2,699.23 per month — a total of $32,390.76 annually.


[Reprinted from The Olympia Report; photo credit: npimultimedia]

Washington Governor Needs Discretionary Authority to Cut Budget

Believe it or not, state revenues are still projected to increase by $2.1 billion for the 2011-13 biennium over the 2009-11 biennium. Unfortunately for lawmakers this increase is $1.4 billion less than what was estimated at the June Revenue Forecast meaning a budget deficit exceeding $1 billion now exists.

According to the state’s chief economist, Dr. Arun Raha:

“We are in the fragile aftermath of the Great Recession where a return to normalcy seems like a mirage in the desert – the closer we get to it, the further it moves away. Fear and uncertainty have overwhelmed consumer and business behavior. Every time our state has looked like it would break out of the malaise, it has been sucked right back in. Political gridlock in the nation’s capital gives little hope that the full toolkit of policy options will be acted on. In an increasingly interconnected world we are not immune to Europe’s problems either. Downside risks outweigh upside risks.”

Here are the revenue estimates for today’s and June’s revenue forecasts (Dollars in millions):

June forecast

  • 2011-13: $31,723.7
  • 2009-11: $28,218.5
  • Increase: $3,505.2 or 12.4%

September forecast

  • 2011-13: $30,310.5
  • 2009-11: $28,193.6
  • Increase: $2,116.9 or 7.5%

The 2011-13 revenue projections are now forecasted to be slightly higher than the level collected during the 2007-09 biennium.

Currently lawmakers and the Governor have two options to address the budget deficit: A special session or the Governor can order across-the-board cuts.

There is a third option. Instead of attempting to balance the budget in a short special session, lawmakers could amend RCW 43.88.110 (the state budget and accounting act) to provide the Governor discretionary budget cutting authority versus the current across-the-board option.

This would allow the Governor to implement immediate surgical reductions while budget writers work together to come up with a supplemental budget blueprint that could be acted on in the first few weeks of the regular 2012 Legislative Session.

One potential way this new discretionary budget cutting authority could be structured could be something along the lines of allowing the Governor to make discretionary reductions that don’t exceed a set % (maybe between 5-10%) of an agency’s appropriations. Cuts in excess of the set % would require approval of a standing legislative emergency budget committee (made up of four corners). No reductions could be made in independently elected statewide officials’ budgets without their approval or the standing legislative committee.

All reductions made would have to be immediately reported to legislative fiscal committees and posted on OFM/fiscal.wa.gov. This type of enhanced budget cutting authority for the Governor should provide enough discretion while addressing any accountability or transparency concerns while providing budget reduction tools other than current one size fits all across-the-board cuts option.

One benefit of this type of discretionary budget cutting authority for the Governor is enhanced taxpayer protection. While the Legislature could decide to raise taxes in a special session to reduce a deficit, the Governor cannot raise taxes on her own. This means the default response for budget deficits that arise when the Legislature is adjourned would be surgical spending reductions, instead of the uncertainty of possible tax increases enacted in a special session.

This type of discretionary budget cutting authority for the Governor would also incentivize the Legislature to leave adequate reserves in the first place to avoid allowing the Governor to decide what spending reductions to impose.

Here is a summary of the various budget cutting authority for Governors across the country.

Speaking of tax increases, some lawmakers are already discussing putting a tax increase referendum on the ballot for voters to consider. If lawmakers are going to send voters a proposed tax referendum they should also put a constitutional amendment enforcing the four-time voter approved 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases on the ballot (especially since some are already talking about suspending it again and others are suing to have it overturned). The legislative vote for both measures could be clearly framed as not an endorsement of the policies but instead an opportunity for the citizens to decide.

Though not identical, this is similar to what lawmakers said they were doing in 2005 when they placed a constitutional amendment on the ballot to reduce the vote threshold needed for voter approved school levies. At the time several lawmakers said they didn’t necessarily support the policy but the voters should have the opportunity to be heard. This would provide voters the opportunity to weigh in on both proposals while finally putting to rest once and for all the debate about the 2/3 vote requirement.


[photo credit: Truthout.org]

Inslee’s Record on Picking Investments is Consistent. Consistently Awful.

Jay Inslee, candidate for governor, proposed using pension money to fund startups. The Seattle Times pointed out a glaring problem with this idea, saying, “his proposal to use part of public employees’ pension money as financial kindling to light a fire under ‘startup innovative companies’ abounds with unnecessary risk.

Most people realize that startups have a higher-than-90% failure rate. So it’s puzzling that Inslee would propose that pension funds be used in such a risky way. After reading Inslee’s book, Apollo’s Fire, I think I understand where he’s coming from.  Inslee has established his political identity as “champion of green energy” but has not reconciled his position with economic reality. In Inslee’s view, green technology startups would surely be a safe bet and a job creation engine, but in reality this is far from the case. If we look at Inslee’s claims and compare them against reality, it’s easy to see how he could think gambling other people’s pension funds on risky startups would be a good idea:

  1. Inslee says “[clean energy] is the greatest job creation engine that’s available to us right now.”  However, according to the Department of Labor, green jobs aren’t even projected to be in the top 20 fastest growing occupations through 2018, and the growth that is there is on life-supportfrom government subsidies. The Department of Labor is expecting more veterinarians than green jobs.Inslee has repeatedly claimed green job investments would yield tremendous returns. In his book he made specific claims of returns on investmentof 250% (pg 287), 415% (pg 265), 550% (pg 268) and even 830% (pg 279). And he claimed these investments would create hundreds of thousands and even millions of jobs.  Needless to say, investors wouldn’t need any government prodding to jump on 800% return-on-investment!And this was before the $800 billion stimulus, so the government actually did have a chance to make those investments. Needless to say, none of those numbers turned out to be even close to true. The LA Times reported that while the stimulus drove record spending, “few jobs were created overall and wind power manufacturing employment, in particular, fell.”  (However, the investments did result in some green job creation in China.)
  2. Inslee has been a constant champion of Cap and Trade and voted for it in 2009 (HR 2454), calling it a jobs bill.  Ironically, Inslee voted to keep Cap and Trade even if it drives unemployment past 15%. The U.S. is usually around 4% unemployment, and it’s currently at 9%.
    However, Cap and Trade acts as an energy tax which creates a negative job atmosphere. FactCheck.org estimates losses from 600,000 to 2.4 million jobs from the bill. Europe passed a Cap and Trade bill earlier and it has cost jobs and driven businesses out of Europe. Even Thomas Crocker, the economist who originally came up with Cap and Trade, recognizes it’s not the most effective way to regulate carbon emissions.
  3.  Inslee said $4-per-gallon gas was a good thing because “it’s an ally of action.” I understand his basic economic argument: as oil gets more expensive, the U.S. will use less of it and switch to more economically viable energy sources. The point he’s missing is that more expensive energy costs do not help the economy and create jobs.  The reality is that as oil prices go up,  businesses and consumers pay the price and are forced to cut jobs .
  4. Inslee talks about a vision of cheap, green energy. This is noble, but the reality is that green energy is significantly more expensive than traditional energy. The Wall Street Journal reported that green energy required significant subsidies to be competitive with fossil fuels. The solar and wind industries get about 50 times more in subsidies than coal ($24 per MW-hour compared to about $.44  per MW-hour).

This isn’t an exhaustive list. For example, Todd Myers lists some additional examples where Inslee guessed wrong about biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol and canola.

The environment is important and I don’t doubt Inslee’s sincerity about green technology companies. But somebody who has been so consistently wrong about economics and job growth should not be dispensing investment advice.


[photo credit: flickr]

Inslee Takes Wait and See on Income Tax, Does Not Support 2/3 Vote Requirement

Last night Congressman Jay Inslee did an interview with TVW’s Austin Jenkins discussing his positions as a candidate for Governor. Among the policies discussed were Inslee’s position on tax increases and whether the voter-approved 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases is constitutional.

Here is the video of that interview queued up to the conversation on those issues:

Cliff notes version: No income tax, currently not that time for tax increases though not ruling out tax increases in the future, some tax preferences should be closed now, however, and not sure about constitutionality of 2/3 requirement but not a supporter of the policy.

Here are McKenna’s answers to those same questions.


[Reprinted from the Washington Policy Center blog; photo credit: flickr]

Inslee Plan to Ignite Washington Economy is All Smoke, No Fire

You have only to listen to Congressman Jay Inslee’s kickoff announcement of his candidacy for Governor to realize his is absolutely the wrong person to put in charge of running Washington State. Like all politicians, he says he wants to improve the state’s economy and promote job creation, but exactly how does he plan on doing that?

He says now isn’t the time to discuss raising taxes, but as we’ve seen with the current incumbent, Gov. Christine Gregoire, he doesn’t mean tax hikes are off-limits during a recession, but during an election campaign. Inslee’s already admitted he’s open to increasing tax revenues by eliminating tax deductions; does he believe that all businesses need to turn things around is more taxes?

He advocates the State taking greater action in providing capital to new start up firms and research centers, to boost high tech business across the state. He plans to get the money to do this from the state pension funds, making risky loans with the state employee’s retirement funds. These are the same plans that are already seriously underfunded, due to the effects of the market downturn in 2008 on the aggressive investing needed to attempt to get an 8% return.

There is, of course, the old standby of economic development through massive state projects, such as the new bridge across the Columbia. Whether a new bridge’s multi-billion dollar price tag is worth the cost, or whether the State can even afford the money to build it, is yet to be seen.

With the usual promises of improving the funding and quality of education in the state comes the idea of reducing health care costs by weeding out inefficiencies and putting the savings towards education. This is remarkable coming from a Congressman who voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which, in spite of its name, has actually driven health care costs up. Moreover, the PPACA threatens to completely overwhelm the state’s budget when it takes full effect and hundreds of thousands are added to the State’s Medicaid rolls.

Firmly committed to public sector employee collective bargaining rights, it is hard to imagine Inslee will be very successful in holding the line on escalating state workers pay and benefits. Likewise, we shouldn’t expect much budgetary restraint from a member of Congress that has run up trillion dollar plus deficits for three years in a row.

Jay Inslee talks of being committed to bringing “new blood to Olympia”, apparently spending two terms as a state representative before becoming a Congressman doesn’t qualify as “old blood”.  Still, it’s difficult to see how he can successfully portray himself as an outsider; I don’t think many people will be reassured by the slogan “I’m from Washington D.C. and I’m here to help.”


[photo credit: flickr]

Inslee Plan to Loan Pension Funds to Start-Ups is Risky, Unnecessary

Since Congressman Jay Inslee made his announcement Monday  that he would challenge Republican Rob McKenna in next year’s election for governor, conversation has been stuck on one point—his proposal to use state pension funds for private sector investment in start-ups—in Inslee’s otherwise vaguely-defined plan to correct the state’s economic course.

As reported by The Seattle Times:

One of Inslee’s chief ideas to spur job growth was to open up resources for start-up companies who are currently starved for cash. He suggested using a small amount of state pension money to support these businesses – an investment that is typically risky – and grow new industries. He declined to say how much money he would commit to such a program.

But ten minutes on an Internet search engine could have given Inslee an opportunity to make last-minute revisions to a plan that opponents suggest is at best risky and at worst a lurch toward European-style economic planning. No matter how many millions Inslee wants to borrow from state workers’ retirement pay, one research group came out Monday to say that pension funds like Washington’s are already stretched to the breaking point.

Just as Inslee was proposing to “invest” the retirement income of state workers into start-up firms—businesses in the highest category of risk—he may not have known the Institute for Truth in Accounting was releasing its 50-state study of worker benefit solvency, a report in which only four states were found to have sufficient assets to cover obligations for state workers for pensions and retirees’ healthcare. (Washington was not one of the four states in the black.)

The Institute’s study concluded that Washington State needs more than $14.9 billion to cover its current promised obligations, an amount that translates to a burden of $6,500 per taxpayer.

In light of the Institution’s findings, Inslee’s proposal seems more like a risky game of fiscal Jenga played on a crowded table. When the pieces of Inslee’s fantastic economic construction do fall, taxpayers will be forced to pick up the pieces from the inevitable failure of his experiment in merging bureaucracy and entrepreneurism. In all likelihood, the million dollar blocks will come crashing down not on the heads of retirees themselves, but on local governments as author and City Journal editor Steve Malanga, suggested Monday in The Wall Street Journal:

Earlier this year, California’s Little Hoover Commission, a government oversight agency, observed: “Barring a miraculous market advance and sustained economic expansion, no government entity—especially at the local level—will be able to absorb the blow [from rising pensions] without severe cuts to services.”

Inslee’s plan to use pension funds for economic experimentation is not a new one, even for the congressman. In the book Inslee co-authored in 2009, Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy, he used California’s pension system (CalPERS) as an example of what government could do to spur growth in the so-called clean-tech sector:

At the same time, major public pension funds like that of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, with $190 billion in assets in 2005, and other socially responsible investors are putting money into clean technology and finding that the new energy economy meets their social and environmental goals even as it makes a profit for their bottom line.

If there was laughter heard Monday in the Golden State when Inslee again suggested commandeering public pensions to be used as high-risk investment pools, it was because CalPERS—both in terms of its investment behavior and its overall financial stability is just one more example of the reverse Midas touch he inflicts when promoting organizations to the top of his hierarchy of success.

The current estimated 30% underfunding of CalPERS—an amount a March 2011 Los Angeles Times editorial stated was in the “tens of billions”— is due in large part to risky investing. The most recent problems at CalPERS stem from unsafe investing in exotic mortgage instruments, but the troubles are not the entity’s first encounter with red ink.

It is important to note that the fiduciary entity responsible for paying hundreds of thousands of California public employees in their retirement, had its own part to play in the first scandal of the 21st century that rocked the financial world—Enron.

One of the more notorious elements in the Enron scandal (oh, how a banking crisis will wipe the memory slate clean) was the joint venture between the energy giant and CalPERS known as Joint Energy Development Investments (JEDI). The purpose of JEDI was to seek out investments in energy companies. Is this what Inslee has in mind when he proposes diverting over-obligated pension funds to make investments in risky start-up companies? If Inslee opened the vault for the Democrats to begin using like a monthly investment club, what would stand between Washington State and the temptation that CalPERS succumbed to?

On the other hand, even seemingly prudent involvement in the market by government can go awry.

Using CalPERS as an example again (it’s the largest pension system of its kind in the United States), in 2002 the entity became part of the Asian banking contagion, reacting to fears of losses by yanking its investments out of Southeast Asia. Joining other skittish stockholders in a bolt for the exit, CalPERS caused a run on markets that eventually necessitated a full-scale banking bailout led by the United States. Analysts such as William Pesek Jr. writing for Bloomberg have argued that not only did CalPERS exacerbate what could have been a minor correction in Asian stocks, it swung so far in the direction of being risk-averse that it missed out on the resurgent growth in the same markets it abandoned.

In February 2002, CalPERS tried to stake out the moral high ground when it pulled out of stocks in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. It cited concerns about corporate governance, political instability and labor standards. It turns out that those markets have been among the world’s top performers for two years running. …

The biggest losers weren’t the economies CalPERS vacated, but its shareholders. They missed out on a 17 percent rise in Thai stocks in 2002 and 117 percent jump in 2003. They also lost out on an 8 percent rise in Indonesian shares in 2002 and a 63 percent increase in 2003. Malaysian shares rose almost 23 percent last year.

What Inslee’s proposal to revive Washington’s economy fails to recognize is that in order to regain its potency—particularly in the area of its small and medium-size start-ups that Inslee correctly identifies as the drivers of the economy—a rethinking of the tax code is more likely to produce results than providing selective support to businesses chosen based on a narrow set of criteria.

When a new business has gathered the capital necessary to fledge from the nest of its innovation into the realm of competitive business, a chief obstacle it faces in Washington state is a regressive business tax structure. Washington’s business and occupation tax—one that taxes a business’ first dollar of income at the same rate manner as its one billionth—has been creating a formidable barrier for small businesses trying to compete with more established ones.

For Inslee, a career politician, concepts such as break-even points and economies of scale may be recognizable only as phrases to be emphasized forcefully when addressing large groups of corporate donors. Nevertheless, he should hear from small business owners on the issue of replacing the business and occupation tax and its complex system of preferential credits and deductions, perks lobbied into being by the big businesses. To do so could be the best way to restore fairness to the state’s economy and unleash the full potential of what the region has to offer.


[featured image credit: flickr; article image credit: flickr]

Inslee’s Record Picking Biofuel Winners and Losers is Far From Perfect

The issue of green jobs and clean energy solutions is likely to feature prominently throughout Congressman Jay Inslee’s campaign for Washington State governor. But what is Inslee’s real track record on picking the winning and losing fuel sources for America’s future. Not good, according to environmental policy guru Todd Myers.

Myers writes at Red County:

Inslee has long been an advocate of government regulations and subsidies that favor biofuels. As part of his announcement, when asked about potential future tax increases, Inslee would only say “We don’t know what the future brings.” By way of comparison, Inslee has been quite bold about his predictions regarding the future of biofuel technology. In 2008, when his book was published, he and his co-author confidently wrote:

It would be comforting to avoid the prospect of being proven wrong by the passage of time. But your authors are built of sterner stock. We refuse to take refuge in the privilege of punditry to cloak our comments in vague surmises. … About 2011, plug-in hybrids will start to hit the roads just at the same time that meaningful amounts of cellulosic ethanol are becoming available at service stations across the country.

Here in 2011, cellulosic ethanol has not emerged as a significant alternative. One reason is that he believed that by 2011 “Congress will have done its job and mandated production of flex-fuel vehicles and a certain percentage of service stations to offer biofuel pumps.” The fact that this did not occur can be laid, ironically, at the feet of Inslee and the members of his Congressional majority. They did not pass the legislation to make this happen, nor did they even pass a budget in 2010 to extend the biofuel credit, amounting to $1.00 a gallon for cellulosic biofuel.

This isn’t the only time Jay Inslee has been wrong about biofuels. Inslee’s faith in biofuels as an alternative energy and job-creator has repeatedly missed the mark.

You can read the entire piece about Inslee’s poor track record for predicting biofuels at Red County.


[photo credit: flickr]

Contrary to Media Reporting: Inslee Announces for Governor at Firm with Donor Ties

It seems that even without a full day having passed since Congressman Jay Inslee’s (D-Wash.) announcement to run for governor of Washington, Inslee’s reputation for giving out slippery facts has begun to infect the media friendly to his campaign.

The site of Inslee’s Monday morning announcement of candidacy was Targeted Growth, Inc, a biotech firm in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle.

Because of a Sunday front-page expose in The Washington Post that documented an uncanny connection between the “clean-tech” companies visited by Pres. Barack Obama on his speaking tours and donations made by the same companies and their employees, journalists are going to be paying more attention than ever to the locations of politicians’ speeches.

Publicola set out to do just that this morning by acknowledging the need to investigate possible linkages between scheduling and donations:

Given the embarrassing bust the Washington Post published on yesterday’s front page about President Obama (raising the question of whether the green companies Obama’s been hyping are real industry leaders or just big Obama donors?), I had to check in on Targeted Growth, Inc., the South Lake Union biotech company where U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee is making his big announcement this morning.

The Democrats pretty much all use the same play book from president to Congressman, so I checked to see if the company was a big Inslee donor.

Nope. According to Federal Elections Commission records, a few folks from Targeted Growth have contributed to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, and former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), but my initial check didn’t turn up any donations from the company or its employees to Inslee.

The Washington State Republican Party independently fact-checked Publicola’s claim and found it inaccurate.

According to the WSRP’s initial research (verified by NW Daily Marker), at least $3,500 in donations to Inslee have been made by lobbyists working for Targeted Growth, Inc. since 2008. The firm of Van Ness Feldman retained by Targeted Growth for lobbying services donated $2,500 to Inslee in 2010, and former staffer for Sen. Patty Murray (D) now-Van Ness Feldman lobbyist Ben Lee McMakin donated $1,000 in 2008.

NW Daily Marker is continuing to research Inslee’s campaign finance records and will update this story as required.

UPDATE: Shortly before this article was published, the WSRP contacted Publicola‘s Josh Feit with their findings. Publicola printed a retraction this afternoon, though the correction did not note that it was the WSRP’s research that located the error.


[photo credit: flickr]

AP ‘Fact-Checks’ McKenna and Tosses Governors Race to the Math Geeks

In the two weeks since Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna announced he was running for governor in 2012, the Associated Press has been wearing down red pencils fact-checking claims made during Republican Rob McKenna during his announcement speech earlier this month.

The AP found errors in three of the claims made by McKenna and as is often the case in Seattle’s media echo chamber, the story pinged quickly from one outlet to another. At 9:32 and 9:35 a.m. Father’s Day, the AP fact check on McKenna’s budget math was published by The Seattle Times and Seattlepi.com, respectively. By Monday, Seattle Weekly, Publicola.com, the Blog-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, and several other statewide outlets had picked up the story to spread the news.

The core message of McKenna’s announcement speech has been that our state government has grown too big, becoming burdensome both fiscally and in terms of its overregulation of businesses, schools, and individuals. He partnered this opinion with shocking statistics about growth in state workers’ salaries and benefits as well as the overall number of state employees, stats the AP redlined in its Sunday special fact check.

But though the AP corrected McKenna’s claims about the precise magnitude of state government growth, they did not rebut or disprove the core truth—growth has taken place and at an alarming rate.

Ironically, the current focus on budget math in Washington’s one-horse gubernatorial race may produce a teaching moment on the real fallout from single-party rule in Olympia, a morality play in which McKenna can easily emerge as the white knight opposite to outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire and sitting Democratic House Majority Leader Frank Chopp.

Nevertheless, the opportunity to take a chunk out of a front-runner Republican in the open race for governor is reason enough to throw caution to the wind. McKenna handed over a useful weapon by using sloppy math to arrive at his budget statistics, and the bloodsport dictates that weapon be used.

The AP’s rectification focused on three claims made by McKenna on the growth in state spending on employee salaries, the growth in state spending on employee benefits, and the increase in the actual number of employees working for the state.

By using an incorrect method to calculate percentage growth in these areas in the years between 1998 and 2008, McKenna overstated salary growth by 1.4%—the true rate of salary growth was 3.6%—and gave a figure for benefits inflation that was also off by 1.9%—the proper rate of growth in state worker’s benefits spending was 7.1%.

The AP story also fairly pointed out that McKenna’s faulty math came out in his favor when he understated the explosion in the size of the state workforce:

His number was actually low for the 1998 to 2008 period, as the number of full-time-equivalent workers grew 17 percent over that period.

Still, Seattle Weekly volleyed that truth with backspin, implying with smoke-and-mirrors wordplay that the Republican candidate was still wrong in his overall campaign theme that state government has grown too large and become too expensive. From Monday’s piece at Seattle Weekly:

In reality, the state has been slashing positions (down 7,000 since 2008) and chopping the budget–it’s set to cut $4.5 billion over the next two years. Someone buy Rob McKenna a new calculator.

Bonus points for snark, but the facts on the size of the state workforce over time do not correlate with the Seattle Weekly’s claims, suggesting their own abacus may need an upgrade. According the State Office of Financial Management, Washington employed 111,419.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) state workers in 2008. The OFM also reports that the 2009-2011 biennial budget is for 108,987 FTE staff. That is a difference of 2,432.5 workers, not 7,000 as the Weekly suggests.

Backbench analyses by AP and other outlets imply that even the real growth in the number of state workers must be put in the context of state population growth, and when that is taken into account McKenna’s argument turns to vapor. According to the AP, getting to the truth is just a matter of looking at a different sample than the one used by McKenna to make his claims: [Ed. emphasis added.]

But the number of state personnel fell 2 percent last year and is expected to fall 2 percent again this coming year. Looking at the decade between 2000 and 2010, the number of full-time-equivalent workers will have only grown by 10 percent.

“Only” 10% growth is still growth. So, unless the press is just playing a game of splitting hairs, McKenna’s correct when he says that state workforce is growing. Right? No, no, in the opinion of the AP reporter the issue of the state worker population has to be compared to growth in the population overall:

By comparison, Census data shows the number of people living in Washington state grew by 14 percent over the same span.

But the facts do not strongly support that counterclaim made by the press watchdogs either, at least according to OFM figures that show the number of full-time state employees per 1,000 Washington residents rising from 16.5 in 1998 to 16.9 in 2008.

On a positive note, the Fourth Estate’s vigorous pursuit of spotlighting the smaller errors behind McKenna’s larger truths has to be a good sign that the Seattle press klatch will commit equal energy to investigating the fantastic Al Gore-quality assertions of pseudo-science of Congressman Jay Inslee once he formally steps into the race.


[Note: The paragraph beginning “‘Only’ 10% growth…” was edited from the original posted version for reasons of clarity.]

McKenna Refines Position on Tax Increases and Collective Bargaining

Last week Attorney General Rob McKenna did an interview with TVW’s Austin Jenkins discussing his positions as a candidate for Governor. Among the policies discussed were McKenna’s position on tax increases, whether the voter-approved 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases is constitutional and if the state is fully taking advantage of opportunities for competitive contracting.

Here is the video of that interview queued up to the conversation on those three issues:

Cliff notes version: No tax increases, 2/3 is constitutional and state is not utilizing competitive contracting enough.


[Reprinted from the Washington Policy Center blog.]


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