A situation of bad timing

State Attorney General Rob McKenna has a new idea for settling disputes over the disclosure of public records.

He wants to create an Office of Open Records that would use hearings judges to resolve cases where the public and a government entity disagree whether a record is public or not.

The office would offer an alternative to the courtroom as a place to settle what are often costly and contentious public disclosure cases.

The idea has merit, but the timing couldn’t be worse. With the state Legislature about to convene to grapple with a $2.6 billion state budget gap, now is not the time to be adding another layer of government. There’s no money available to hire a set of administration hearing judges to hear the cases.

McKenna is aware the timing for an Office of Open Records isn’t good. But he did include it in his legislative agenda in hopes of at least getting hearing on the bill and advancing awareness of the concept. That’s a reasonable request.