$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:

Don't forget the full context for proposed capital gains taxes in Washington

June 14, 2015 in Blog

I know I’ve already written about the proposed capital gains tax several times but I keep seeing the same phrasing used to discuss it without the context of what it would mean for the state in both legal and competitive purposes.

Acting State Auditor fights for dedicated performance audit funds

June 2, 2015 in Blog

Commenting on a tour of school children at the capitol on Monday, Seattle Times reporter Joe O'Sullivan tweeted:

Docent explaining executive branch to school children: 'I would say we have a state auditor - and we usually do.'

This qualifier is very troubling for several reasons but especially with both the most recent House and Senate budget proposals continuing to raid the voter-approved dedicated I-900 performance audit funds for the State Auditor.

Notable budget dates

May 26, 2015 in Blog

With the first special session winding down here are a few dates to pay attention to as lawmakers work to adopt the state's 2015-17 budget:

New collective bargaining reform bill introduced

May 21, 2015 in Blog

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.

Will $415 million increase in forecasted revenue break budget logjam?

May 19, 2015 in Blog

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:

Collective bargaining reform receives attention in special session

April 29, 2015 in Blog

Today marks day one of the "special" session and public hearings are already scheduled. Among the bills up for consideration today is SB 6098: Defining financial feasibility for collective bargaining agreements. According to the bill report:

Is a capital gains tax an excise or income tax?

April 22, 2015 in Blog

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.

Statement from Brian Sonntag on importance of public trust in State Auditor

April 21, 2015 in Blog

Brian Sonntag, former 20 year State Auditor and current Washington Policy Center Board member, issued this statement today on the importance of public trust in State Auditor:

Is 2002 state collective bargaining law constitutional?

April 9, 2015 in Blog

On the eve of budget negotiations, Governor Inslee's budget office (Office of Financial Management) sent lawmakers a letter expressing concern with several provisions of their budgets. Among the concerns expressed:

Whether to raise taxes to fund state employee contracts sticking point in budget debate

April 7, 2015 in Blog

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.

Quick review of House and Senate budgets

April 1, 2015 in Blog

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.