Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is rejecting a request for an independent audit on the Columbia River Crossing.
In a two-page letter, sent April 12, Washington's Republican Majority requested that Inslee start a formal and fully independent audit of the $3.4 billion Interstate 5 highway and light rail project based on the work of outside forensic auditors.
"The findings by these experts strongly indicate massive cost overruns, potential violations of state and federal regulations, and a pattern of misinforming both the public and the officials who represent them," the letter reads.
But Inslee responded May 1 to say he wasn't interested in doing another audit, which he says would cost taxpayers thousands of dollars on a "duplicative review."
"I take any allegations of abuse of state taxpayer money very seriously, and I have given this matter considerable personal time and attention," Inslee writes.
He says he met with the state audit director, and read the reports from the two forensic auditors submitted by the Republicans. Washington's governor adds that the federal government is also monitoring spending on the project, and hasn't found any pattern of cost overruns or "a pattern of misinforming the public and elected officials that you allege in your letter."
Instead, Inslee tells the Majority Caucus that now is the time to build the bridge.
Washington Sen. Ann Rivers (R-LaCenter) says Inslee's response was tantamount to asking the foxes guarding the hen house if the hens are still doing OK in there.
The state's legislature is having a 30-day extension of its legislative session to work out a transportation budget that Inslee and Democrats hope will contain $450 million for the construction of the controversial megaproject.
Rivers, profiled in WW for her opposition to the project, says "no transportation package from the senate will have that money."