Gov. Jay Inslee’s wholesale veto of 27 bills last month was a hasty, clumsy and ultimately ineffective way of pressuring legislators to adopt a budget quickly.
The governor partly redeemed himself Monday when he signed the budget and used a more laser-like approach to veto a few sections, including an ill-advised provision that would have swept $10 million from the state Auditor’s performance audit account.
There was no partisan script to follow here; neither Republicans nor Democrats championed the fund. It became easy money for legislators united in their disregard for embattled state Auditor Troy Kelley. Inslee’s own December budget plan included raiding the fund.
But in the end, he had the good sense to stand up for an office that does underappreciated work with more than 2,200 government agency audits each year. He also stood up for Washington voters who approved a performance-audit initiative in 2005 in hopes of rooting out mismanagement, waste and cost overruns.
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The governor took a page from his predecessor, Gov. Chris Gregoire, who vetoed a sweep of the audit fund in 2009. Don’t be surprised if legislators try to loot it again next year, and that whoever’s elected governor is thrust into the familiar role of watchdog protector.