The state of Washington may be facing a deficit of $4 billion and maybe up to $5 billion. So when Reuven Carlyle, the newly elected state Rep. of Legislative District 36 gets to Olympia, listening, learning and working to right the economy will be job one.
"The first order of business is to get serious and figure out how to get out of this financial mess we're in," he said. "We're looking at the biggest budget deficit in a generation." The economy is in a crisis and he said he would work with Gov. Gregoire to repair it.
The tech entrepreneur said to reduce the swelling deficit he will look at ways to eliminate duplications in state infrastructure to the tune of $300 million to $500 million in savings. He said just about every department has its own silos of information, infrastructure, servers, and are disconnected with other departments.
"It couldn't be more inefficient," he said. Streamlining services and the delivery of information throughout the state's various agencies could help create efficiency and jobs in the long run through building the infrastructure itself to maintaining it.
Carlyle spent most of the 1990s doing special projects, business development and public policy at McCaw Cellular Communications, which later became AT&T Wireless Services. Then he was a vice president of strategic development at Xypoint Corp. helping develop the technology that would allow authorities to pinpoint 911 calls made on cell phones.
"I've spent a lot of time on the technology front and while the state of Washington is very progressive, it doesn't extend to the public sector," he said referring to the state's current information grid. "I think putting things online is common sense and simplistic and needs to be done."
Addressing education and clean energy also tops his to-do list. He wants Seattle Schools to be more committed toward neighborhood schools. That means reexamining the logic of bussing kids from one neighborhood into a school miles away in another neighborhood.
"Eighty percent of kids are within walking distance of schools, but more than 60 percent are bussed," he said. "My question is what is the state's role in that and what can we do to take that to the next level." He also believes schools in this state are underfunded and will require additional funds at some point. So he wants to work with the state to find out what is the right level of funding for schools and get serious about increasing their quality.
Regarding clean energy, he wants to extend the same online grid described for state purposes, to residential energy tracking. If people can see their real-time energy consumption rates, they'll likely use less, he said. "Like the price of gas, it has a more profound impact, a direct impact on consumer behavior," he said. "It connects consumers. From that awareness comes changes in behavior."
Once the basic infrastructure is developed then public and private companies can design and build the applications that can go with it. The ultimate result being, someone can go online and look at their real-time energy usage. Or someone can come home and plug in their electric car to recharge. If they want it recharged during premium hours, they pay a premium price. And likewise for non-peak times.
"It gives you a sense of ownership of consumption," he said. Setting up an infrastructure and building applications to get the concept on wheels could take as little as two years. But having to go through governmental processes and working with various utilities, he's not sure how long it would take.[[In-content Ad]]