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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Mark Miloscia

AG asked if audits can be delayed

OLYMPIA — The state attorney general's office will weigh in on a potential fight between the Legislature and the Executive branch over the meaning of three little words: “within available funds.”

Those three words appear twice in a 2005 statute that requires state agencies to develop “quality management systems” to help figure out ways to do their jobs better.  Most agencies have never done such  assessments because the deadlines were delayed and then the recession hit and budgets tightened.

This year, the governor's office asked for another delay. The Legislature said no, but it also didn't set aside any extra money for the assessments. Last month, Marty Brown, director of the Office of Financial Management, told agency leaders not to perform the quality management assessments because after billions of dollars of budget cuts, the funds aren't available.

“The intent was, if you had the money you would do this; if you didn't, you wouldn't,” Brown said Thursday.

In the statute's three paragraphs that call for the development of quality management systems, the first two contain the words “within available funds.” The third paragrah does not add that caveat.

Two legislative Democrats, Rep. Mark Miloscia of Federal Way and Sen. Jim Kastama of Puyallup, who are running respectively for state auditor and secretary of state, are challenging the order to drop the quality assessments. They sent a letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire, objecting to Brown's directive to the agencies, and a separate letter to the attorney general's office, asking for an opinion on whether the assessments have to be done.

“They're getting rid of accountability,” Miloscia said in an interview Thursday.

Not so, says Brown. The state has other programs to improve performance, such as the Lean system that private businesses use to look for waste and the Government Management Accountability Project.

But those look at different things, Miloscia said. If a governor can ignore this law that requires state agencies to do something, he or she could ignore other laws requiring other actions. He drafted the legislation in 2005 and contends it says “within available funds” because the Legislature never intended to give the agencies extra money for the assessments. They'd have to find ways to pay for it within the budgets they had.

In the past, the Legislature approved delays requested by Gregoire. This year, it dropped the requested delay from the final budget deal that passed on the last day of the special session. But it didn't come up with any extra money, and it didn't repeal the words “within available funds” from the existing law.

Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Even said he would research the question and come up with an informal opinion about the legal meaning of those words. That analysis typically takes about two months, he said, so it should be available by mid August.

Jumping into 2012 races

OLYMPIA — Five days left in this election cycle, but here's some candidates for the 2012 election.

Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, said today he'll run for State Auditor. Longtime Auditor Brian Sonntag announced more than a month ago he wouldn't seek re-election, and Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, got in the race in October, and Rep. Chris Reykdahl, D-Olympia set up “an exploratory committee” to consider the run. One possible factor in Pridemore's decision: Sen. Lisa Brown, the Senate Majority leader from Spokane, said earlier this week she would not run for auditor.

Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, is running for Secretary of State. That seat is also open, as longtime Sec. State Sam Reed announced this summer he was retiring.  State Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, and Republican Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman are already in that race.

All the state reps will give up their seats if they stay in the race. So will Pridemore and Kastama, because they face re-election in 2012. So the dominoes could start falling in legislative districts around the state.

Miloscia to challenge Chopp for speaker

OLYMPIA — Rep. Mark Miloscia, a seven-term legislator from Federal Way, announced today he will run for speaker of the House, challenging current speaker Frank Chopp of Seattle.

In a prepared statement, Miloscia said Democratic leaders haven’t been offering hope, fision or plans to address the faltering economy. “Not one significant piece of government reform has passed the last two years…This failure cannot continue.”

Miloscia currently serves as chairman of the House Audit Review and Oversight Committee. His challenge comes after Democrats have lost seats in the House, but still have a strong majority.

Senate Democrats, who also lost seats but retained their majority, re-elected Sen. Lisa Brown of Spokane over the weekend to majority leader in the upcoming session.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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