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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Budget-crisis suggestions, from insiders and the hinterlands…

From the print paper:

Think back to the last time you renewed your driver’s license. Do you remember the shoes on the person behind the counter?

Of course not. But you probably paid for them. Taxpayers provide a $97-a-year “shoe allowance” for the 330 folks working at the state’s 60-plus driver licensing offices. You also pick up the tab for the employees’ shirts, pants, sweaters, jackets and hats, as well as a $27-a-month stipend for dry cleaning.

With Washington’s government facing a $5 billion to $6 billion budget shortfall over the next two years, residents are trying to find new ways to save. Doing away with the clothing allowance was among the nearly 2,000 ideas submitted over the past few weeks to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who recently release a budget proposal including deep spending cuts.

“We looked at all the suggestions and had them in mind as we were making decisions” on that proposal, said Glenn Kuper, a spokesman for the governor’s budget office. Many of the ideas, he said, could also be wrapped into a broader package of government reforms Gregoire plans to propose in January.