Wash. Gov responds to citizen budget ideas

As part of an effort to reduce the State of Washington’s $3 billion budget gap, Governor Chris Gregoire recently closed the brainstorming and voting period for a Web-based crowdsourcing effort. Gov. Gregoire commented on some of the citizen-submitted ideas through a series of YouTube addresses last week.

Website visitors submitted nearly 2,000 ideas, with 5,600 comments and over 137,000 votes cast, officials said.

“As I said when we unveiled this web site, I want staff at the Office of Financial Management as well as members of the executive budget panel to review each and every idea,” Gov. Gregoire said. “I’ve been taking a look at them as well, and want those who have participated to know that we’re taking those ideas seriously.”

Responding directly to a few of the ideas, Gov. Gregoire first spoke to the state’s license plates. According to current state laws, license plates must be replaced every seven years and two plates are required on the front and back-ends of vehicles. The governor acknowledged that requiring only one license plate could save the state $1.9 million, but she added that work with law enforcement officials would be needed to determine the public safety issues.

Another idea suggested that public financing of art should be cut or eliminated. Gov. Gregoire defended the use of public dollars on art, but she said more could be done to make sure that tax dollars are prioritized and used on programs that are essential to the state.

The website was powered by IdeaScale, which offers any visitor the chance to submit their idea, allowing others to agree, disagree and comment. The top three vote-getters were ideas to enforce legal status laws for public service, instituting an inmate worker program, and legalizing marijuana, respectively.