Voter turnout as of Saturday for the 2014 Election in Washington is a meager 24.4%. This means if we are to get anywhere close to the 62% forecast by the Secretary of State a flood of ballots will be hitting the mail in the next day. This likely means we'll be waiting several days to weeks to learn the winners of close races.
The House Finance Committee held a work session yesterday focused on the fiscal health of Washington's cities and counties. Among the presentations lawmakers heard was a pitch from the Washington Association of Counties to provide local governments more flexibility on existing tax sources while providing new tax options. One recommendation in particular of note from the Counties:
“Survey question to lawmakers and candidates: Would you vote to allow the people of Washington to have the opportunity to vote on a state constitution amendment to require a supermajority vote in the Legislature to raise taxes?
Curious to know if those that hope to represent you in the Legislature next year believe you have the right to settle the twenty year debate about whether tax increases should receive a supermajority vote or voter approval?
Everything about this statement is true. Not only is the Court's contempt order against a co-equal branch of government unprecedented but what may come next could lead to a doomsday scenario against voters.
What seemed almost impossible a few months ago is becoming more probable with each passing day; taxes being charged for internet access. The return of taxes on internet access may occur due to the failure of Congress to either extend temporarily or permanently the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA). The current ban on internet access taxes expires on November 1.
That was the question I was hoping to answer today but after reviewing the state's August 20th response to the Centeno v. Dept. of Social & Health Services lawsuit in federal court the elusive answer will have to wait.
While requesting that case "be dismissed with prejudice" one section of the state's brief today said:
The third time was the charm for the Benton County public safety sales tax increase. After voters rejected a 0.2% increase in 2007 and 2008 they are giving approval to Proposition 14-5 (0.3% increase). Now that the voters have given their trust to elected officials it is time for these leaders to come through on their promise to enact performance audits to ensure the new resources are efficiently and effectively spent to deliver on the important public safety goals.
Tomorrow the Governor's Office will continue secret contract negotiations with state employee unions focused on compensation related issues for the 2015-17 budget. Not only is the public and media not allowed to monitor these conversations but the legislative committee created in the same law that authorized closed door contract negotiations still hasn't been consulted as required by law. This lack of legislative consultation isn't new, however, as the committee the Governor is charged to consult with has never met since the law went into effect in 2002.
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.