Jmercier

Legislature focuses on open government reforms

January 22, 2014 in Blog

The people's right to know has received a serious shot in the arm this session with numerous open government bills under consideration. The Attorney General's proposals to require training of government officials have already received executive action in the House and public hearings in the Senate. Several bills have also been introduced to make more budget related information available online.

Brian Sonntag releases Seattle pension study

January 22, 2014 in Blog

Former State Auditor Brian Sonntag released a study today highlighting the need for pension reform in Seattle. Sonntag worked on the study at the request of the Washington Policy Center.

Senate Ways & Means to act on revenue forecast reform

January 15, 2014 in Blog

The Senate Ways and Means Committee held a public hearing yesterday on SB 5910: Providing that a quarterly revenue forecast is due on February 20th during both a long and short legislative session year. The committee is scheduled to take executive action on the bill later today. The proposal passed the Senate unanimously twice last year (April 28 and June 23) but was not acted on by the House.

Anatomy of a budget gimmick

January 8, 2014 in Blog

When the Governor announced his first full budget proposal (his 2013-15 proposal was an outline) on December 17 releasing his recommended 2014 supplemental budget, I was very curious to see how it would comply with the state's spending limit. After careful review, it looks like it doesn't.

Missing public records and "harassing requesters"

January 6, 2014 in Blog

During the heat of the debate last year on HB 1128 and whether or not government entities should be able to sue citizens to keep from disclosing public records, the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) sent out a public records request to determine the extent of any problem facing local governments concerning compliance with the people's right to know.

JLARC releases guidance for drafting tax preference performance statements

January 3, 2014 in Blog

Last year the Legislature passed a requirement for bills creating or expanding tax preferences to include a performance statement to identify the expected outcome for the policy change. We were very happy to work with Rep. Carlyle, Chair of the House Finance Committee, on this concept.

The most important vote of 2014 - Boeing 777X contract

January 2, 2014 in Blog

Although 2014 is a general election year with control of the Legislature up for grabs and still unknown ballot measures yet to qualify, perhaps the most important vote of the year will be tomorrow on Boeing's 777X contract offer. Not only does this union vote have the potential to impact tens of thousands of jobs, but it could dramatically change the state's fiscal outlook, not to mention its economic psyche.

House Finance Committee discusses B&O reform

December 11, 2013 in Blog

The House Finance Committee continued its important interim work discussing the state's tax structure by holding a work session yesterday on ways to reform the B&O tax. Earlier this year the Committee discussed what the principles of the state's tax system should be.

2014 supplemental budget will need to keep state spending limit in mind

November 26, 2013 in Blog

After going through multiple special sessions to adopt the state's 2013-15 budget, the last thing lawmakers will want to do is fight about a 2014 supplemental budget. State agencies, however, have already submitted their 2014 supplemental budget wish list requesting a combined increase in spending of $895 million and 806 new FTEs.

No more ludicrous speed lawmaking

November 9, 2013 in Blog

Now that lawmakers have saved the state's Boeing "destiny for a generation" (pending a Wednesday vote by Boeing unions), let's hope we can get them to commit to abandoning future "ludicrous speed" lawmaking.

Tax exemptions, transparency, and a hotel bill

November 6, 2013 in Blog

I was supposed to be on the road to Olympia this morning for a Thursday House Finance Work Session to discuss tax exemptions and WPC's recommendation to eliminate targeted tax exemptions and instead replace the B&O tax with a revenue neutral single business tax.

Look for election results tonight, tomorrow, and in the weeks to come

November 5, 2013 in Blog

For most election races we will probably know the outcome sometime tonight. For those close races, however, it will take a few more days and perhaps weeks to know the victors. That is because that although Washington is all vote by mail, ballots aren't due on Election Day but simply need to be postmarked.

For our neighbors in Oregon, however, their ballots are actually due on Election Day. How is that process working for Oregon? Here is what I was told last year by Brenda Bayes, Elections Deputy Director for Oregon:

I-517: Win or lose, lawmakers should consider next steps

November 4, 2013 in Blog

Tomorrow Washingtonians will head to the drop box or mailbox and turn in their ballots passing judgment on I-517 and the changes proposed to the state's initiative system. Depending on the outcome lawmakers will be faced with a couple of options.

State Supreme Court considers $1.3 billion pension case

October 21, 2013 in Blog

The State Supreme Court will hear a pension case this Thursday at 9 a.m. brought by various unions that could cost taxpayers an additional $1.3 billion at the state and local level during the 2015-17 biennium and billions more in the future. At issue is whether lawmakers had the legal right to make changes to what they thought were conditional pension benefit increases.