Gov. Chris Gregoire, who has repeatedly vowed to “blow past the bureaucracy,” today proposed blowing parts of it away.
Gregoire wants to eliminating 154 of the state’s 470 boards and advisory commissions. Among those on the chopping block:
• Interagency Task Force on Milfoil Control,
• Acupuncture Ad Hoc Consulting Group,
• Migratory Waterfowl Art Commission,
• Oversight Committee on Moral Guidance,
• and, something called the Board of Registration for the Onsite Advisory Committee.
Gregoire also wants to consolidate several state agencies, including merging the state’s health coverage agency with its system for retirees. The state archaeology department would become part of State Parks.
“All Washington employers public and private will emerge from this recession forever changed, Gregoire said in a written statement. “And so will state government.”
Locally, Gregoire is pushing ahead with her call to merge the historical societies that oversee the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture with the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. Officials at both institutions question whether the merger would save the expected $500,000 a year. Dennis Hession, the MAC’s interim CEO, has warned that local donations might drop.
With nearly half of car license tabs being now renewed online, Gregoire wants to close some offices but expand online services. The state Department of Licensing, for example, plans to soon let you renew your driver’s license, apply for a personalized license plate, or schedule a driving test online.
The plan also calls, however, for gradually closing more than two dozen driver-licensing offices around the state. Part-time offices in Newport, Republic, Chelan and Coulee Dam, for example, would be closed in the summer of 2009. The state would instead have a licensing van that travels to smaller communities on a regular schedule.
She wants more online courses through community and technical colleges, for example. She also wants to make it easier to use credit- and debit cards to pay state fees.
Gregoire said more changes are coming.
“What we’re launching today is significant,” she said, “but it is also just the beginning. This is not about short-term thinking it is about changing the way we do business for the long term.”