Gregoire has plan for streamlining government
OLYMPIA, Wash. - Governor Chris Gregoire plans to unveil her ideas for eliminating wasteful spending and streamlining state government.
The plan would eliminate more than 150 boards and commissions, close 25 Department of Licensing offices, and increase online services including more online courses at community and technical colleges. To offset the closures, some licensing offices will have expanded hours. Communities left without a licensing office could get a "self-service" kiosk.
Under the governor's plan, office closures would be conducted in five waves over the next two years:
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The following locations would have expanded hours:
Everett, Kent, Lynnwood, Renton, Spokane, Kennewick, Kirkland, Puyallup, South Tacoma and West Seattle
The state is facing a budget shortfall of at least $6 billion, and Gregoire has said all parts of government will feel some of the economic "belt tightening."
The governor had to delay a news conference concerning her reform package Monday morning due to being called to jury duty.
Education, social services and other high-profile programs are already slated to have their budgets slashed in Gregoire's budget proposal.
Republicans are already critical of the plans. Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt says the proposals are merely distractions from the state's budget woes.
Washington may release ill prisoners early
Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed expanding a medical parole program to release ill prisoners early.
Moving the 44 chronically or terminally ill inmates out of state prisons would save the state about $1.5 million over the next two years.
The saving would come from the costs of transporting prisoners and purchasing drugs. It doesn't take into account other state social services the released prisoners would need.
A spokesman for the Office of Financial Management, Glenn Kuper, says it will be less expensive to provide services to the ill inmates outside the prison system.