December 14, 2010 in City

Gregoire proposes consolidating state agencies

Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire today announced a plan that would consolidate several state agencies and eliminate three dozen boards and commissions, a move she says will save the state nearly $30 million over the next two years.

Gregoire said her proposal would reduce the number of state agencies from 21 to nine, saving the state $22 million. The Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Recreation and Conservation Office and the law enforcement unit of the Department of Natural Resources would be consolidated into a new Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Gregoire also wants to create an Office of Civil Rights, which would encompass the consolidation of the state’s Human Rights Commission, Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise, Commission on African Affairs, Commission on Hispanic Affairs and Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.

Other areas that would be consolidated under Gregoire’s proposal:

— The work of the Columbia River Gorge Commission, the Pollution Liability Insurance Agency and the Department of Health’s reclaimed water program moves to the Department of Ecology.

• The state Conservation Commission is merged into the Department of Agriculture

• The Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation is consolidated into the Department of Natural Resources

• The Departments of General Administration, Personnel, Printing, and portions of the Department of Information Services and the Office of Financial Management would merge into a new Department of Enterprise Services.

Gregoire said she also wants to eliminate more boards and commissions. More than 140 of the state’s boards and commissions were either eliminated or consolidated in past years. The move to eliminate an additional 36 would save the state an estimated $7.4 million, Gregoire’s office said.

Gregoire said she also wants to look for savings in corrections services, including opportunities to coordinate use of state prisons and local jails.

She said the Department of Corrections is working with the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to discuss options.

A policy paper issued by the governor’s office today says that one of the ideas being discussed is how to control health care costs, as well as how better to use jail space in the state instead of building new facilities or sending inmates out of state.

The ideas are a piece of the governor’s two-year budget proposal for 2011-2013. Her entire budget proposal will be released Wednesday.

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