Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 35° Partly Cloudy
News >  Spokane

Gregoire considers efficiency measures

Liquor board, lottery may be scrutinized

OLYMPIA – Washington should abolish the Liquor Control Board and see if a private company can do a better job of managing the state lottery, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Thursday.

It should also spread some of the efficiency standards and cost-cutting measures successful in business, known as Lean, across more state agencies, she said in proposing a series of government reforms for the Legislature to consider when it returns next month.

Many Republicans and some Democrats said they wanted to reform government, to raise productivity and cut costs, before considering most of the cuts Gregoire proposed last month or any tax increases.

The governor said Washington will likely have to do all three – institute reforms, cut key programs and raise taxes.

“I’d like them to come forward with reform ideas that would close a $2 billion hole,” she said.

The state has already reformed workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance systems, consolidated some agencies, cut management at others, started user-pay systems at state parks and adult family homes, shut down several institutions and required performance-based audits, she said.

Her package of reforms will include dissolving the Liquor Control Board, which has three paid appointees and support staff, for an estimated savings of $780,000, and replacing it with a director who would oversee enforcement and licensing operations. Last month voters approved an initiative to end the state’s control over wholesale and retail liquor sales.

“It makes sense to me,” said Chris Marr, a liquor board member and former state senator from Spokane. The board will be busy until June making arrangements for the switch to private sales but will have a reduced workload after that, he said. Compensation for board members was cut 40 percent a few years ago, so the savings might not be significant.

The state could save more money by allowing a private company to manage and promote the state lottery, Gregoire said. She said she doesn’t want to expand gambling receipts by increasing ticket sales but would like to see if a private firm can do what the state does for less, leaving more proceeds for the General Fund.

How much could be saved won’t be known until the state sends out a request for bids and examines the replies. When the state accepted bids for the operation of its liquor distribution system before I-1183 passed, the two bids it received showed no “net benefit” to the state.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.