DAILY RECORD: Republican candidates visit Ellensburg

State Auditor candidate Mark Miloica and Bill Bryant sit down with the Daily Record in Ellensburg to discuss budgeting, accountability, and taking a pressure hose to Olympia. 

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant and auditor candidate Mark Miloscia came through Kittitas County on Friday to promote a vision of accountability and transparency for Washington state.

On Friday they spent the morning talking to elected community leaders in Cle Elum and then spent the rest of the day in Ellensburg speaking with local business people, the Kittitas County Farm Bureau and the Washington Cattlemen’s Association about their campaigns.

On handling the state's budget:

Both candidates support zero-based budgeting, where departments analyze every function and build a budget based on what is needed for the upcoming period, regardless of whether the budget is higher or lower than the previous one.

 “I really want to take a pressure hose to Olympia,” Bryant said. “We haven’t really scrutinized the budget in over 30 years. Every time we take the previous year’s budget and add to it or tweak it.”

The two said having an auditor and governor willing to work together to move in the same direction is unique.

“I think with this partnership we can take our state to the next level,” Miloscia said. “We can be the best-run, most efficient, effective and ethical state in the nation where we are getting rid of the waste in executive government.”

On the experience to do the job right:

Bryant, a lifelong Washingtonian, is chairman of Bryant Christie Inc., a firm that helps farmers and agricultural companies export their crops, and has served as an official on the King County / Seattle Port Commission. He is running as the Republican candidate for governor.

Miloscia, a Republican from Federal Way, has served seven terms in the House and was elected to the Senate in 2014. He currently serves as the chairman of the Senate Accountability and Reform Committee, which considers issues relating to regulatory reform, lean management, and audits of state government programs and agencies. He also has worked as a substitute teacher when the Legislature was not in session.

He is in favor of making the Auditor’s Office non-partisan. He ran as a Democrat for the auditor position in 2012.

The Washington state Auditor’s Office monitors state and local governments and holds them accountable for use of public resources...

...Current Auditor Troy Kelley, a Democrat from Tacoma, is charged with 16 felonies, including money laundering and tax fraud, rooted in the fees he kept for his former real estate business before he became auditor in 2012. A federal trial on the charges is underway in Tacoma.

On bringing accountability to Olympia:

Bryant and Miloscia both identified a need for accountability at the state department level. They want to look at whether programs are meeting goals. One example they cited is the issue of homelessness.

“We’re spending a lot of money on homelessness, and we can’t always identify whether or not the programs are successful because we haven’t defined what success looks like,” Bryant said. “Is success in homelessness the number of meals you provide every day or the number of beds you’re providing every night?”

Miloscia said he helped pass the Homelessness Housing and Assistance Act in 2005 that developed a 10-year plan to reduce homelessness by 50 percent by 2015.

“Right now we don’t know where we are,” he said about the numbers.

Another department they cited as inefficient is the Department of Corrections, which accidentally released inmates early due to a software-coding error.

The candidates said they would announce a four-year initiative to go to a zero-based budget, working on looking at and auditing a few state agencies and departments each year to rebuild the budget from ground zero.

Bryant said some programs would likely get eliminated, but others would get stronger.

“If the program isn’t helping anybody, cutting it isn’t hurting anybody. … We’d take money out of ones not working and put into things that are,” he said.

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Mike Foster