Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Inslee, McKenna Talk About State Workers

Gubernatorial candidates Jay Inslee (D) and Rob McKenna (R) met with the Seattle Times Editorial Board and talked about how they would control costs in state government.  Both candidates have promised to increase education funding without raising taxes.

We all know the Times will endorse McKenna, and -- since the Seattle Times has been waging a multi-year campaign against public servants -- it's no surprise that state employees were a major topic in their discussion with the two candidates.

"Both candidates portrayed themselves as reformers who would shake up the state Capitol and force government to be more efficient," Jim Brunner reported.

"Inslee previewed a piece of a forthcoming government reform proposal, saying he would target a segment of middle management in state government that has grown by 1,000 percent since 1993...  McKenna hit back on that idea, suggesting Inslee zeroed in on that management program because public employee unions don't like it..."

On the topic of state employee collective bargaining, "McKenna said he'd provide a strong contrast to Democratic governors who have been overly generous to public employee unions that have supported their political campaigns.  'You need a governor that is going to sit across the table from the people he is bargaining with, not on the same side of the table,' McKenna said."

"He said he'd push for more state agencies to adopt reforms they've been slow to embrace, such as allowing private competition for services such as printing and tech support.  McKenna also repeated his past calls for the Legislature to be able to amend state collective bargaining agreements with unions..."

"Inslee opposed McKenna's idea, saying the governor alone should be held responsible for the contracts.  'The governor ought to be accountable and stand up on his or her two feet and do a tough, responsible deal,' Inslee said."

Throughout the debate so far, both candidates have promised to increase spending on K12 and higher education.  Both candidates have talked about investments and innovations they'd like to pursue.  But the truth is, none of this will come to pass until we address the problem that our revenue stream simply doesn't keep up with the demand for services.

In the Times article, McKenna said he could increase funding for colleges and universities by limiting "the growth of most state agencies to just keep up with inflation and population increases."  That sounds great, but in the real world state revenues are falling while inflation and (especially) population are going up.  We wouldn't have been slashing spending these past four years if revenue had kept up with inflation and population growth.

I'll be interested to see if anyone in the "mainstream media" ever asks McKenna that question.  In the meantime, we can always enjoy the fond memories of current and former Governors who have been "overly generous" to state employees.

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