On his Washington Policy Center blog, Jason Mercier alerts us to a surprise move in the state Senate that would esssentially be a slap at state Auditor Brian Sonntag for his handling of performance audits.
Senate Bill 6450, earlier thought to be dead this session, was revived under a suspension of rules. It would force the auditor to reimburse school districts for costs associated with performance audits.
As Mercier notes, Sonntag strongly objects and contends the audits save local governments far more than they cost.
Even though Sonntag is a Democrat, many Democratic legislators do seem itching to yank his chain. It could be they resent the way Sonntag positions himself as a champion of good government by promoting performance audits. Sonntag has in the past considered running for governor.
They may resent the way he appears regularly on conservative radio talk shows and has allied himself with Tim Eyman, whose successful Initiative 900 gave the auditor the authority and funding for performance audits.
Another possible factor I haven’t quite nailed down: I heard behind-the-scenes complaints that Sonntag exceeded his mandate and delved into policy matters when a performance audit of the state Department of Transportation urged a greater emphasis on “congestion relief.”
That gripe might have some merit, but I haven’t the chance to explore it. Done properly, however, performance audits are a good idea. It was a state PA that blew the lid off shady practices at the Port of Seattle.