The solutions Val Torrens seeks
March 12, 2010 · 10:43 AM
In response to Val Torrens’ column, Feb. 26, “Got solutions?” Loads of people in every sector of Washington society are screaming them out loud.
Approximately one in five of all workers in Washington are state employees. Just how large does government have to get to maintain essential services? On average, state employees earn $19,488 more per year in wages and benefits than the private sector worker. State employees pay 12 percent of the cost of their benefits, on average, while we pay 24 to 100 percent.
Unions must be slashed of their mafia-like ability to hold us hostage. Renegotiate salaries and benefits packages that relate to the private market. For example, a part-time liquor store clerk earns $11.35 to $15.30 per hour plus state retirement, 11 paid holidays, paid vacation and sick leave, health, dental and long-term disability insurance. There are no educational requirements listed beside the ability “to count and balance cash accurately.” Sweet gig. No wonder they aren’t in a hurry to close the stores.
Cheers to Brian Sonntag, our state auditor. As of March 2009, his office produced audits of state and local governments showing a ratio of $10 saved to each dollar spent. Proven immediate savings included $320 million by increasing collections of delinquent debts and $350 million by selling the liquor stores. Other savings included reducing printing costs and consolidating mainframes, servers, data storage and email into one shared service provider. What did the state do to reward the Auditor’s diligence? Instead of implementing the vast majority of cost savings, they took half the funds the voters permanently designated away from his department.
State spending is not decreasing. Our House is proposing $1.8 billion in new spending; the Senate $1.4 billion this year. State spending has increased 31 percent over the past six years. How is that logical when our population increases less than 8 percent every decade?
As one who worked with DSHS clients for five years, many able-bodied, non-elderly clients can and should work to contribute toward their care expenses. The reality is many could take care of themselves, or by adults living with them, but they don’t have to. They are happy to have unlimited health care and a supplied caregiver to clean their toilets, wash their clothes, cook their meals and drive them around for free. Torrens is right when she said, “ ... Users of government services do not wish to pay the full freight.” The majority of my non-elderly clients sucked all the handouts the state was willing to supply. This is eating our budget alive.
What are the items not needed in Poulsbo? Another park with $20,000 worth of rusted “public art,” a $15 million architectural monstrosity called City Hall, half the new stop signs erected, HOV lanes, and now $1.49 million more in road “improvements” for sidewalks, medians and landscaping in front of our abandoned car lots.
“Government is hurting and needs help,” she states. Tell me another funny story.