Jmercier

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.

State Supreme Court grants prior Governor's office request for shroud of secrecy

October 17, 2013 in Blog

Channeling former President Nixon, the state Supreme Court today showed Washington State isn't that different from Washington D.C. after all by granting the Governor's office the claim of executive privilege to deny citizens access to public records.

Editorial boards pan I-517 and I-522

October 15, 2013 in Blog

Are the state's editorial boards reflective of the general voting public? We'll know after the votes are counted on Initiative 517 and Initiative 522. Based on the near consensus of the editorials to date, supporters of the proposals may be feeling a bit nervous. Here's a roundup:

Seattle Times

Principles of a good tax system

October 8, 2013 in Blog

The House Finance Committee held a work session yesterday reviewing the state's tax structure and how it compares nationally. I had the opportunity to present on the principles of a good tax system

I encouraged the committee to focus its tax reform efforts around the following fundamental building blocks of a good tax structure:

Revenue forecast helps grow budget reserves

September 19, 2013 in Blog

While those following the state's monthly revenue receipts expected state revenue collections to continue to grow, the amount of yesterday's increase was a bit of a surprise.

According to the state's economist, Dr. Steve Lerch, revenues are now projected to grow by another $345 million for the current budget and $342 million for the 2015-17 budget:

Coalition requests performance audit of I-937

September 17, 2013 in Blog

A coalition of lawmakers and business groups sent State Auditor Troy Kelley a letter yesterday requesting a performance audit of I-937 (Energy Independence Act).

From the letter:

Dear State Auditor Troy Kelley,

Questions on I-517

September 16, 2013 in Blog

On Thursday we published our analysis of Initiative 517. Our study concluded (in-part):

Summary of I-517

September 12, 2013 in Blog

In November the people of Washington will vote on Initiative 517. The measure would make several changes to state law concerning signature gathering for initiatives and referendums. Initiative 517 would increase the time period for gathering signatures, require that proposals that receive an adequate number of valid signature proceed to the ballot, change the penalties for interfering with signature gathering, and increase the number of locations, both public and private, where signature gathering can occur.

Governor kicks off "soft" launch of Results Washington effort

September 10, 2013 in Blog

Today Governor Inslee put his stamp on the state's long track record with performance management efforts with a "soft" launch of Results Washington. As noted by his press release:

Gov. Jay Inslee today formally launched Results Washington, which will provide faster and easier answers to those questions and access to an unprecedented array of performance data related to his top goals.

Review of 2013-15 Operating Budget

August 29, 2013 in Blog

Now that we've had time to review and digest the state's new 2013-15 budget, how did lawmakers do? As with all budgets there are good and bad items included, though the biggest policy success was that lawmakers allowed the 2010 “temporary” tax increases to remain temporary and to expire as promised on July 1st. The enacted budget also includes revenue and spending projections that balance in compliance with the state’s new four-year balanced budget requirement.

I-517: What is a public building for purposes of signature gathering?

August 23, 2013 in Blog

Among the provisions of Initiative 517 is the requirement to allow signature gathering “inside or outside public buildings such as public sports stadiums, convention/exhibition centers, and public fairs.” Public buildings, however, is not defined by the measure. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, Department of Enterprise Services, and the Attorney General’s Office there is currently no standard rule for signature gathering on public property though most public entities provide some opportunity for signature gathering with certain restrictions.

Farmer for a Day

August 15, 2013 in Blog

What do you get when you add more than a dozen lawmakers, beautiful weather, an irrigated desert, policy wonks and the efforts of the Franklin County Farm Bureau, Washington State Potato Commission and Washington State Farm Bureau?

A successful "Farmer for a Day" program in Pasco.