Jmercier

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.

Evolution of tax increase proposals for 2013-15 budget

July 30, 2013 in Blog

Despite projected revenue growth of $2 billion for the 2013-15 biennium, proposals for significant tax increases dominated the budget debate and contributed to the Legislature going into two special sessions to finish its work on the budget. The final tax increase package included in the 2013-15 budget was a fraction of what state Democrats initially proposed. Below is a breakdown of how the tax increase proposals evolved.

Does I-517 interfere with private property rights?

July 22, 2013 in Blog

One of the most contentious debates about I-517 (Concerning initiative and referendum measures) is whether its provisions would run roughshod over businesses' private property rights.

There is at least one prominent attorney that believes it does. Former Attorney General Rob McKenna is concerned I-517 doesn't comply with constitutional property right protections for businesses:

Did liquor privatization increase DUIs and alcohol related arrests?

July 16, 2013 in Blog

No. Based on the latest numbers, the alcohol infused Armageddon that we were warned about if voters approved I-1183 ending the state's nearly 80 year old-liquor monopoly was more of a scare tactic than based on the actual experience of the 33 states across the country with private liquor sales.

Here is data provided by the Washington State Patrol:

Public records fail

July 10, 2013 in Blog

Life is full of teachable moments. Consider the following exchange between the Mayor of Coulee Dam and the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WPC serves on the WCOG board) as an example of how a government official should NOT respond to a public records request.