Gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee is not the same person as Governor Jay Inslee. As Shift has pointed out, candidate Inslee made a lot of promises Gov. Inslee likes to break—not least of which is his campaign promise to veto any new taxes. Given our green governor’s determination to create $1 billion or more in new taxes, it is safe to count that particular promise as shattered.
Another promise Inslee appears bent on breaking has to do with government efficiency. Candidate Inslee campaigned on a reform agenda that would renew taxpayers’ faith in government by enforcing “lean management” practices—a laughable campaign promise in hindsight of Inslee’s administration. The Seattle Times,
Compare candidate Inslee’s government reform white paper with his Governor’s office website, and you’ll see that “reducing middle management” has dropped off. That idea referred to the Washington Management Service, a job class created in the 1990’s to draw private sector talent to government. Wages for the mostly non-union jobs are higher, and pay raises are discretionary (and have tended to be bigger than rank-and-file). That drew the ire of unions and of fiscal conservatives, prompting reforms in 2005 that limited the ranks of Washington Management Service employees.
Although Inslee promised to “thin” the “overabundance” of mid-level managers, that’s not happened. I also can’t find evidence of his pledge to review the Washington Management Service.
In fact, the percent of Washington Management Service jobs has grown under Inslee.
Covering government for two decades, I’ve consistently heard from line workers that they’re poorly managed, and that contributes to poor morale and a rigid workplace. An interesting note in a recent state workforce report: overtime is up 13 percent in 2014, at a cost of $91 million. Is that good management?
Far from practicing lean management, Inslee more often than not expresses hostility toward any government reform meant to generate efficiency and save taxpayer dollars. Republican budget-writer Sen. Andy Hill said of Inslee, “In the last two budgets I’ve written, he’s resisted violently booking any savings based on lean management. It was a hard no.”
Hill went on to suggest that Inslee adopt former Gov. Gary Locke’s “Priorities of Government”—an effort that “forced agencies to rank the importance of their work.” Unfortunately, Inslee isn’t the type of executive willing to take a similar stand for lean management. Hill said,
“That only works if you have an executive willing to say, ‘No, I need you to really tell me what your high priorities are to do.’ We don’t see any of that.”
As the Seattle Times put it, “Government reform isn’t just about squeezing savings out of the $33.7 billion biennial state budget. But when you’re asking taxpayers for a billion more, it certainly helps.”