Yesterday state employees held a coordinated lunch time "unity break" to encourage lawmakers to ratify the contracts that were secretly negotiated behind closed doors last summer with Governor Inslee. As a side note, there was a striking (no pun intended) contrast between the ongoing illegal teacher strikes and yesterday's “unity break” by state workers. State workers showed there is a way to protest while showing up for work and not disrupting public services - something other public servants should take note of.
With not much progress to date on budget negotiations during the special session, yesterday's $415 million increase in forecasted revenue may just be what lawmakers need to wrap up their work. According to the state's Economic Revenue Forecast Council:
With discussions continuing of imposing the first in the nation capital gains tax for a state without an income tax, questions have been raised about whether this would be an excise tax or an income tax. This distinction is very important since an income tax exceeding 1% would be unconstitutional in Washington.
Now that the House and Senate have approved their versions of the 2015-17 budget, legislative budget negotiators will be hard at work trying to come to an agreement before the end of session on April 26.
The budget cards are now on the table. Now we'll see if House and Senate budget negotiators can find a winning hand to get out of Olympia with a budget agreement by April 26. We're still reviewing the details of the proposals but here are a couple of first impressions.
Today was going to be like just any other budget rollout day in Olympia. A short press conference highlighting a summary of a budget proposal running hundreds of pages long and spending billions of dollars (not to mention potential new tax increases being proposed). Then just a few hours later Washingtonians were to be expected to have read, digested, and traveled to Olympia to offer public testimony on the proposed spending plan for their tax dollars.
To help market the state of Washington to potential businesses the Department of Commerce runs a website called "Choose Washington." Under the tab "Why Washington" you can select "Our Strengths." Under that tab you will find a page called "Pro-Business."
On the first day of session the Senate, using the powers granted to it by Article 2, Section 9 of the state Constitution, adopted rules to govern its proceedings. Among the rules adopted was Rule 64 to require a supermajority vote to move a bill creating a new tax from second to third reading.
In our prior blog post we looked at the volatility of capital gains taxes and how California adopted a constitutional amendment to force more savings of its revenue from that source versus spending it to reduce the state's rollercoaster budgeting.
Jason Mercier is Director of the Center for Government Reform at Washington Policy Center and is based in the Tri-Cities. He serves on the boards of the Washington Coalition for Open Government and CandidateVerification, and was an advisor to the 2002 Washington State Tax Structure Committee. Jason is an ex-officio for the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce. In June 2010, former Governor Gregoire appointed Jason as WPC’s representative on her Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Panel.