Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Clibborn sheds light on ferry problems, recent progress

The state’s ferry system has generated quite a few headlines recently—the governor last week floated the idea of privatization, and news outlets have focused a spotlight on overtime policies and other operational practices. Rep. Judy Clibborn (Mercer Island) has weighed in with her thoughts on these issues, along with an account of successive ferry reforms over the past several years.

“… it’s clear that good judgment and fiscal responsibility were thrown overboard in some instances,” Clibborn writes about some of Washington State Ferries’ (WSF) overtime, travel and special-projects policies. She continues, “State employees serve in the public’s interest and have a special obligation to use taxpayer dollars in thoughtful, efficient ways as they deliver services.”

Clibborn notes that WSF has had a troubled past, which the Legislature has worked to remedy with a series of reforms since 2007. “The Legislature has taken corrective action and will continue to demand accountability with the public’s dollars,” she writes. Recent progress includes cost-savings and efficiencies to the tune of $35 million annually, and the construction of three new, much-needed ferries. And in recent months, WSF itself has put a stop to questionable overtime and mileage/travel practices.

Clibborn believes in the leadership team at WSF and the achievements of recent reforms but adds that “… our reform work must continue.”

For more information about ferry reforms, click here for Clibborn’s 2010 bill and here for a comprehensive, long-range plan by WSF created at the direction of the Legislature.