How important are five votes out of seven million Washingtonians? The vote of just five state Supreme Court Justices could be the difference between Washington maintaining its competitive advantage of not imposing state income taxes and the eight decade old dam of legal precedent preventing these types of taxes being torn down.
After several recent controversial decisions by the state Supreme Court the Seattle Times this weekend took a closer look at the electoral competition, or rather lack thereof, for the Justices. According to the Times:
Elections for the high-court seats have grown less competitive in recent years — with spending dominated more by liberal groups.
Overshadowed by last week's shocking and controversial charter school decision by the Supreme Court is another important ruling by the court to allow the public to vote on Initiative 1366 ("Taxpayer Protection Act"). On September 4, 2015, the Supreme Court issued a brief order unanimously allowing Initiative 1366 to appear on the 2015 general election ballot.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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. Hickenloopercurrently before the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for reconsideration at the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court.
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.
Jason Mercier is the 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.