OLYMPIA – The state House of Representatives approved by a near unanimous vote a performance accountability proposal by Rep. Jeff Morris (D – Mount Vernon) directed at the Washington Ferry System.
After weeks of negotiations, Morris and his fellow “ferry caucus” lawmakers crafted a new version that requires WSF to meet certain performance targets or find themselves under new private management.
Morris’ bill sets timelines for meeting performance goals. If those aren’t met, then the public management team will be replaced with a private contractor. However, the bill, HB 1516, would not affect any collective bargaining rights or agreements for ferry workers serving on the vessels or ports.
I’ve been here since 1997, and there have been at least six directors, and several interim directors, of WSF in the time I’ve represented the 40th District on the House Floor,” said Morris during his floor speech. “And no matter how capable these directors have been, few of them have been able to permeate all the divisions within the Washington State Ferry system.
“This bill is measuring the performance of all managers at WSF, and it will vest all of them in the outcome. It’s no longer just the director who’s held accountable, it’s all the managers who are held accountable of meeting these performance criteria. And with all of them vested, we will see their performance improve; if not, we can change direction.”
“It’s time to try something new,” Morris had said in previous testimony on the bill. “We can either push management to realize some cost-savings, we can raise prices, or we can reduce service. Those are our choices.”
Morris’ bill now moves to the Senate for consideration before final passage into law.