Washington wasteful spending: 'Say Wa?' - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Washington wasteful spending: 'Say Wa?'

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SPOKANE, Wash. - Have you ever heard of 'Say Wa?' If you are unfamiliar with phrase, just take a look back to 2006 when 32 people decided they would spend 18 months promoting tourism in Washington State using that phrase. The cost? $442,000 of taxpayer money.

In April, KHQ sat down with Governor Chris Gregoire to talk about pork barrel spending (government waste) and fraud against the taxpayer's wallet.

During that interview Gregoire was asked about the 'Say Wa?' campaign slogan.

"...Ridiculous spendature of money, failed exercise. Who thought anyone would be impressed with a state motto that says 'Say Wa?', said Gregoire. "So the people said loud and clear, no we don't like that and we don't want that. That is not how federal stimulus money will be spent, we won't spend money on a study for a slogan."

The point of the interview was to find out how Governor Gregoire plans to track the $5 billion in federal stimulus money rolling into the state. Since money that has not arrived yet can't be tracked, KHQ, with the assistance of the Washington Policy Center, researched how the State has spent taxpayer over the past few years.

KHQ asked Governor Gregoire about the more than $600,000 of pension payments to dead people. The questions did not stop there. The Governor was also asked about the $180,000 worth of lost or stolen state owned laptop computers and cell phones as well as the $9,000 in missing gas credit cards.

Governor Gregoire said that fraud occurs in state government just like it does in the private sector and that the state has been able to recover 75 percent of the pension money it paid out to people who are dead.

In response to the pension payments, Gregoire's office sent KHQ the following:

The State has taken a number of steps to guard against inappropriate pension payments:

  • Implemented a new system that does a better cross-match with Social Security records.
  • Implemented a new cross-match system of marriage-license data with the Department of Health, to help identify recipients who are no longer eligible for benefits because of remarriage.
  • Improved the handling of "Declaration of Entitlement" forms, which are completed annually by pension recipients to verify continued eligibility. The agency emphasized the process with appropriate
  • staff, and improved ways of tracking the returned forms.

- Bill McGinty
KHQ Local News

More Information

To view the entire summary of waste, fraud and pork barrel spending in the 'Washington State Piglet Book,' click on the image.

To view the Table of Contents, click here.

 

 

 

 


Washington state is administering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act investments with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability. Gregoire created a new Web site, www.recovery.wa.gov, so every Washingtonian can see where tax dollars are going and hold government accountable for the results. Visit the main American Recovery and Reinvestment Act here: http://www.recovery.gov/.


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