Budget writers in the Republican-controlled state Senate are dealing another blow to government accountability. By inappropriately repurposing about $11 million of the state auditor’s dedicated I-900 performance audit funds, the GOP budget undermines the 2005 initiative for performance audit authority.
Almost two-thirds of Washington voters approved Initiative 900, because people want to know that government is spending their hard-earned tax dollars wisely and efficiently, and that the investments are producing intended results.
The initiative included a dedicated funding source for conducting the audits, placing 0.16 percent of the state’s portion of sales and use tax collections into a state treasury account.
Politicians have been attempting to raid that fund ever since, and they were successful in 2011.
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Repurposing funds from the performance audit account creates false savings. State performance audits have identified more than $500 million in savings, and return about $10 saved to every $1 spent. Stripping $11 million potentially costs the state $110 million in future savings.
Cutting the funds available for performance audits shows a callous disregard for government reform, which all state lawmakers should be embracing. Taking away the only real tool to instigate government reform is woefully shortsighted.