Jmercier

State Supreme Court issues landmark public records ruling on text messages

August 27, 2015 in Blog

In a 9-0 decision this morning the state Supreme Court ruled that the text messages of government employees that relate to official business, even on their private phone, are public records. From the ruling

State rejected WFSE request to pay employees for not crossing strike picket lines

August 26, 2015 in Blog

Now that the 2015-17 state budget has been signed into law the public is able to request details from last summer's secret contract negotiations between state employee unions and Governor Inslee's office. I just received the first batch of public records (more to come in October) with some of these details.

Take 2: Is Initiative 1366 a constitutional amendment?

August 21, 2015 in Blog

Last month we posed this question: Is Initiative 1366 a constitutional amendment? The answer to this question will determine whether voters will have the opportunity to pass their own judgement on the policies proposed by the ballot measure. 

Should Washington follow New Jersey's response to Court K-12 sanctions? Fuhgeddaboudit

August 14, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday the State Supreme Court in a 9-0 ruling took the unprecedented step of fining the state (i.e. taxpayers) for the Legislature's failure to adopt a detailed plan showing how lawmakers plan to meet certain K-12 funding goals by 2018.

Budget reforms needed to remove threat of government shutdown

August 7, 2015 in Blog

During the last two biennia Washington has come dangerously close to a state government shutdown. The current 2015-17 budget was signed just 18 minutes before a shutdown (signed at 11:42 p.m. on June 30) while the 2013-15 budget was approved a few hours before the new budget cycle (signed at 4:20 p.m. on June 30, 2013).

WPC joins amicus defending people's right to enact fiscal restraints on lawmakers

August 3, 2015 in Blog

Washington Policy Center (WPC) is a strong defender of the people's right of initiative as well as their power to enact fiscal restraints on lawmakers to help promote sustainable budgeting. This is why we are happy to sign on to the amicus brief in the case of Kerr v. Hickenlooper currently before the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for reconsideration at the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Is Initiative 1366 a constitutional amendment?

July 31, 2015 in Blog

Initiative 1366, the "Taxpayer Protection Act," has qualified for the November ballot. Here is the official ballot title and summary for I-1366: 

2015-17 tax debate: From "buck up" for $1.4 billion to $180 million adopted net revenue increase

July 14, 2015 in Blog

Although Governor Inslee campaigned on the promise in 2012 to not propose new taxes, the 2015 session started and ended in perfect symmetry with him calling for tax increases. The size of those desired tax increases, however, changed significantly from December 2014 to when the 2015-17 budget was finally signed in July. Let's review how the tax debate unfolded.

Evolution of 2015-17 budget proposals

July 13, 2015 in Blog

After a record 176 days the Legislature was finally able to adopt all the pieces necessary to put in place a balanced 2015-17 operating budget. The focus of this post is not to review the process used to enact the budget or policies funded in it but instead to provide a timeline of where the tax and spending debate began last December with Governor Inslee’s budget proposal to where it ended with adoption of the final 2015-17 budget.

Could rule changes strengthen state's balance budget requirement?

July 6, 2015 in Blog

You wouldn't know it from the fact that the days old 2015-17 budget has never been balanced and was signed into law with a $2 billion hole but Washington has one of the strongest statutory balanced budget requirements in the country. Per RCW 43.88.055 "The legislature must adopt a four-year balanced budget . . ."

$2 billion hole blown in brand new 2015-17 budget

July 1, 2015 in Blog

Around 11:30 p.m. last night (30 minutes before a government shutdown) Governor Inslee signed the state's 2015-17 budget. Though the new budget is only a few hours old, there is already a $2 billion cloud hanging over it.

Legislature approves budget/transportation package; averts government shutdown but work still to be done for budget to balance

July 1, 2015 in Blog

With just hours to spare before a partial state government shutdown, the legislature overwhelmingly adopted the state’s 2015-17 budget. By a vote of 38-10 in the Senate and 90-8 in the House, lawmakers approved a $38.2 billion biennial budget ($79 billion all funds). This represents a 13% increase in spending from the 2013-15 budget.

Not Olympia's finest hour for government transparency

June 30, 2015 in Blog

It is wonderful news the state won't be facing a government shutdown and that a major transportation investment package with good reforms is moving forward but the last week, the past 72 hrs in particular, have been very embarrassing for the cause of an open and transparent legislative process.

3 states without budget using continuing resolution to avoid government shutdown

June 24, 2015 in Blog

South Carolina, North Carolina and New Hampshire are in the same boat as Washington with a major budget fight threatening a government shutdown on July 1. Those three states, however, are using a continuing resolution to keep government open while budget negotiations continue.

Details here: