Rep. Jim Walsh has pre-filed a bill for the 2019 legislative session that would allow supporters to contribute funding to help defray the cost of the plain-clothes Washington State Patrol security detail assigned to protect the governor during his out-of-state political travel.
In his role as chair of the Democratic Governors Association, Gov. Jay Inslee has traveled extensively, supporting Democratic candidates, in more than a dozen states.
This has contributed to a big spike in the taxpayer-funded security detail assigned to protect the governor and his family.
According to a State Patrol analysis, its Executive Protection Unit has overspent its $2.6 million budget by more than $400,000, with overtime and travel accounting for 62 percent of excess costs.
Under House Bill 1021, an account would be created to which private contributions could be made to offset the extra protection and security costs incurred when the governor’s travel is not related to state business.
“It’s only proper that a governor traveling outside of the state on business not related to state government should reimburse the taxpayers for the cost of his security detail. It’s common-sense reform,” said Walsh.
Based on the governor’s recent increased out-of-state travel, the State Patrol—required by law to protect the governor and his family—is asking for a $1.3 million budget increase over the next two years.
If approved, Walsh’s bill would create a non-state business travel reimbursement account, managed by the state treasurer.
Gifts, grants, or donations received by the governor for campaign or non-state business related activities could be deposited in the account to help pay for the costs of his security.
“It’s too bad it took recent headlines about cost overruns caused by Governor Inslee’s out-of-state travel to get traction on this kind of reform. However, this really goes beyond Governor Inslee. It would apply to any governor who incurred these types of expenses. We need to make this change. It’s good reform that will benefit the taxpayers of Washington,” continued Walsh.
The 2019 legislative session begins Jan. 14 and is scheduled for 105 days in Olympia.