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2012 Common Cents Campaign    

Saving our common dollars and cents through common-sense

Today we announce the 3rd annual Common Cents Campaign Awards.  The CCC’s are awarded in instances of egregious misuse of taxpayer money and hope to test Justice Louis Brandeis’ statement that, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”   Here are the 2012 CCC’s:

Finalists

Insider trading by legislators - This recently became illegal at the federal level, but it’s still legal for Washington State lawmakers.  A bill mirroring the federal S.T.O.C.K. (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act at the state level died during the last legislative session.  Currently, under state law, lawmakers are able to benefit from “insider” knowledge that they gain through the course of their work.

Interstate compacts - The Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision is an agreement between multiple states regarding convicted felons.  Three times as many offenders enter Washington as leave the state under the compact.  This adds increased costs for the state’s community supervision program and greater risk to our community.  It also resulted in tragedy on November 29, 2009 when a felon from Arkansas killed four Lakewood Police officers in cold blood at a local coffee shop.

WINNER

Fiscal Notes - The Washington State Legislature’s fiscal note system is this year’s winner.  Fiscal notes are the estimated costs that will be borne by the public should a bill be enacted.  The problem is that the executive agency potentially affected by the bill supplies all the information used by the Office of Financial Management, which is responsible for writing up the cost.  This means that any bill an agency does not like gets a big fiscal note, and this negatively affects its prospects of becoming law.

One example is my bill HB 2626, based on a high intensity supervision program that had success in Alaska and Hawaii.  When an individual under community supervision commits a violation, they receive swift, predictable, and immediate sanctions, typically jail time.  This has reduced recidivism and saved money for Alaska, Hawaii, and now many other states.  This bill received a $7 million fiscal note from the Department of Corrections (DOC), who opposed the bill.  However this year the DOC requested SB 6204 which was, in effect, the same bill.  But it had a fiscal note stating that it saves almost $30 million.  Amazing!  And another reason why fiscal notes earned the 2012 CCC’s top award.

 


 

 

2011 Common Cents Campaign    

Saving our common dollars and cents through common-sense

Today we announce the annual Common Cents Campaign Awards.   The CCC’s are awarded in instances of egregious misuse of taxpayer money and hope to test Justice Louis Brandeis’ statement that, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”   Here are the 2011 CCC’s:

Finalists

Misuse of Mileage – A media investigation revealed antiquated laws paying for ferry employees to drive to and from work were exploited, paying some employees up to $10,000 a year.  While another law paying for travel to and from work for twelve employees cost taxpayers over $200,000.

Cell Phones Surplus – In a one year study spanning 22,000 state-purchased cell phones, and 89 state agencies the Washington State Auditor’s Office reported that Washington State spent $9.2 million on cellphone use.  But 6,679 of those phones, a total of about $1.8 million, were used less than thirty minutes, and many were not used at all.

WINNER

EBT Cards – For creating a black market (30 cents on the dollar) of state produced ‘food stamps’ which are also known as electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards.  We ran a bill to prevent fraud, stopping people from selling or trading their state-issued EBT cards.  The minor changes proposed in Washington state were directly opposed by the other  Washington (DC).  The local bureaucracy wanted nothing to do with legislation or real regulatory reform, until KING 5 news ran a piece on it.  The very next day major reforms were announced. One small step in the right direction.

 


 

2010 Common Cents Campaign 

Saving our common dollars and cents through common-sense

The Common Cents Campaign awards are given in instances of egregious misuse of taxpayer money and hope to test Justice Louis Brandeis’ statement that, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

WINNER

Failing to Log Phone Numbers of Sex Offenders – The DSHS system did not log recipient numbers of outgoing calls placed by involuntarily committed patients, even when the technology was available.  Many people received calls threatening not only them, but their families, and because the outgoing numbers were not monitored the authorities were unable to trace the origin of the calls.  The patients purchased several phone cards, often from other countries, and placed calls through multiple cards for each call, thus making the calls extremely difficult to trace because it appeared that they came from other countries.

Move over, $7,000 coffeepots! Stand aside, $400 hammers! We now have the $792 doormat!
– Sen. William Proxmire of Wisconsin, founder of the ‘Golden Fleece Award’