Food stamp effort a success story

The administration of this state's food stamp program has undergone a drastic overhaul - all for the better.

The federal government picks up the costs of the food stamp program for low-income Washington residents. The feds also pay about half the administrative costs and routinely audit state records to ensure that food stamp recipients are deserving of the federal assistance. About 500,000 low-income Washington residents received $600 million in food stamp benefits last year.

Two years ago, the state had a terrible error rate - either providing benefits for individuals who were not eligible or paying benefits that were too high or too low. The error rate was 7.62 percent.

State officials tackled the problem and, in fiscal year 2005, the state error rate dropped to 2.72 percent. Recentlly Governor Chris Gregoire announced that the error rate had dropped to 2.59 percent in 2006. Washington state now ranks fourth nationally for its accuracy rate and as a result the state was rewarded with more than $2.9 million as a performance bonus.

"This is the second year in a row that Washington has received a cash reward for high standards of accountability," Gregoire said. "This continued outstanding performance means that we are saving money for taxpayers by efficiently and accurately delivering services."

Score a solid victory for taxpayers.