The Legislature would create an independent commission to break political gridlock and find ways to make state government more efficient under legislation passed today by the Senate.
“Everyone talks about streamlining government, but it’s almost impossible for lawmakers to agree on what should be cut or changed because of all the competing special interests and constituencies,” Sen. Jim Kastama said. “This will put the decision in the hands of an objective third party that can look at the merits instead of the constituency.”
Kastama’s Senate Bill 6345 is modeled on the highly successful Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) created by Congress in 2005 to circumvent political gridlock in identifying military bases for closure. His bill would create the Agency Reallocation and Realignment of Washington (ARROW) commission.
Like BRAC, Kastama’s ARROW commission would develop a package of recommendations that the Legislature would pass as a whole. Amending any portion of the recommendations would require a two-thirds vote. The commission would submit its findings, recommendations and proposed legislation to the Legislature annually from 2013 until 2016 and then at the beginning of each biennium after that.
“Everybody agrees that BRAC was a major success,” said Kastama, a Puyallup Democrat and chair of the Senate Economic Development, Trade & Innovation Committee. “ARROW can do the same for Washington state government.”
The eight-member commission would propose ways of reducing spending while maintaining essential services, with the freedom to consolidate, eliminate or create state agencies and departments. It could also redefine the duties and responsibilities of state officers. All of this would have to be done within existing revenues.
“My goal is a process than can get past all the sacred cows and favorite sons in favor of one cohesive plan that serves our state’s best interests,” Kastama said. “This commission will be in a position to look beyond the pieces and see the bigger picture.”
SB 6345 passed on a 31-16 vote and now goes to the House.