Jmercier

2013-15 Budget: From 'light years apart' to light speed legislative action

June 28, 2013 in Blog

By the time you read this the Legislature will have likely already approved the 482 page 2013-15 operating budget first publicly released around 12:56 a.m. this morning. Don't feel bad if you haven't had a chance to read it; you're in good company. It's doubtful many lawmakers have either.

Budget announcement in tweets

June 27, 2013 in Blog

As you can see from the below tweets of reporters, the just concluded press conference with Governor Inslee and budget writers announcing the details of the 2013-15 budget agreement leaves lots to the imagination of what exactly lawmakers are being asked to vote on and have on the Governor's desk by 5 p.m. tomorrow (of course they'll read it first):

I-517: Are new harassment protections needed for signature gatherers?

June 27, 2013 in Blog

One of the major focuses of Initiative 517 is to provide harassment protection for signature gatherers. The Yes on I-517 campaign has posted a 1995 letter by then Secretary of State Ralph Munro that says (in-part):

You know what's in the pending 2013-15 budget, right?

June 25, 2013 in Blog

With a 2013-15 budget deal "imminent" one of the remaining questions left to be answered is whether lawmakers and the public will be provided adequate time to review the details before a vote on final passage occurs. We believe at a minimum the time provided for budget transparency should be at least 24 hrs.

Heavy hitters line up against I-517

June 20, 2013 in Blog

One of the ballot measures voters will decide this year is I-517: Concerning initiative and referendum measures. The proposal is an initiative to the Legislature but lawmakers did not approve it meaning it will be placed before voters to pass final judgement.

State revenue up another $231 million - $2 billion more for 2013-15

June 18, 2013 in Blog

Good news for state budget writers - today's revenue forecast has further increased projected revenue for the current and next budget by a combined $231 million for a total increase of more than $2 billion for 2013-15.

From today's Revenue Forecast:

State may want to keep those death tax refunds on hand

June 17, 2013 in Blog

Lawmakers may have thought they dodged a bullet last week when passing a retroactive death tax "fix" to a state Supreme Court ruling which would have required refunds but with additional litigation pending due to the retroactive nature of the tax increase the state may still end up paying those court ordered refunds.

While you were sleeping - Senate passes/Inslee signs retroactive death tax increase

June 14, 2013 in Blog

Beating a Friday morning deadline to keep the Department of Revenue from issuing court ordered refunds, the Legislature yesterday approved HB 2075 - a retroactive change to the state's death tax. The new law undoes a unanimous State Supreme Court ruling which required death tax refunds to certain estates. 

Tax increases for compensation enhancements?

June 13, 2013 in Blog

Though various reform bills proposed by the Senate have been pointed to by state Democrats and Governor Inslee as holding up a budget deal, the real sticking point continues to be whether to increase taxes despite the fact state revenues are currently projected to increase by $2 billion for the 2013-15 biennium (and may increase more at next week's Revenue Forecast).

Olympia's Retroactive Tax "Twilight Zone"

June 11, 2013 in Blog

Today is the last day of the 1st Special Session for lawmakers to finish work on the 2013-15 budget. So where do we stand? Here are the thoughts of House Majority Leader Rep. Sullivan (D) as quoted in The Olympian:

“We are still pretty far apart,” Sullivan said, noting that Gov. Jay Inslee had said last month that the chambers were light years apart. “I would say we are still somewhere out in space.’’

New budget due on June 1 under state law

May 16, 2013 in Blog

With it being all quiet on the Western Legislative Front, there is one date to keep in mind concerning the ongoing state budget negotiations: June 1.

While there are rumors that lawmakers may wait for the June 18 Revenue Forecast to see if the recent improvement in state economic activity can help bridge the budget divide, state law may make waiting that long a bit tricky.

According to RCW 43.88.080 (emphasis added): 

Senators may meet via teleconference during special session; remote testimony options for citizens next?

May 15, 2013 in Blog

While there isn't much news coming out of Olympia since the Special Session started on Monday there is one development that could hold huge implications for citizens going forward. At a media availability on Monday Senate Republican Leader Sen. Schoesler said that Senators may meet via teleconference to help keep cost down for members living out of the area.

Here is video of Sen. Schoesler's comments:

Don't forget to include the public in the "sanctity" of budget negotiations

May 14, 2013 in Blog

A few lawmakers kicked off the first 30-day Special Session yesterday to finish work on the 2013-15 operating budget. At a press conference Governor Inslee said some progress had been made concerning the assumptions in the various budgets but that he was not in a position to disclose those assumptions needing to keep the "sanctity" of close-door budget negations intact.

Here is video of Governor Inslee's comments:

State Auditor releases financial management performance audit

May 8, 2013 in Blog

Prior to leaving office State Auditor Brian Sonntag sent a letter to then Governor-elect Inslee encouraging him to focus on reforms to the state's antiquated financial management system. Today State Auditor Troy Kelley released a performance audit which found:

House shows title only bills unnecessary

April 26, 2013 in Blog

The House is about to demonstrate that resorting to title only bills is unnecessary. Two bills that were introduced within the last 10 days of session were just added to the floor calendar (HB 2056 and HB 2058).