Jmercier

Tax increases explained by the beer glass full

February 15, 2013 in Blog

While sitting parched in the Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing yesterday on various tax increase bills, I was very enticed, intrigued rather, by the testimony of Steve Gano representing Miller Coors explaining the impact of extending the "temporary" and expiring beer taxes as proposed SB 5039.

Where's the love for jobs?

February 14, 2013 in Blog

No matter where your turn the word from the White House to the Governor to our state lawmakers is jobs, jobs, jobs.

Despite the professed love of entrepreneurs and growing our economy back to respectability, Washingtonians will be provided a glimpse this afternoon of five tax increase proposals that would cost jobs.

Tax increase proposals scheduled for public hearing on Valentine's Day

February 8, 2013 in Blog

The Senate Ways and Means Committee has scheduled public hearings for various tax increase bills on Valentine's Day next week (2/14). If all the bills were adopted, the projected 10-year tax increase would exceed $38 billion.

That's a whole lot of love for taxpayers’ wallets but may not be the love letter Washingtonians were expecting in this tough economic climate.

Here are the 10-year tax increase projections for the bills according to the Office of Financial Management:

Senate considers supermajority for taxes constitutional amendments

February 6, 2013 in Blog

The Senate Government Operations Committee will hold a public hearing tomorrow (2/7) on three proposed constitutional amendments to cement the voters consistent support for requiring a supermajority vote to raise taxes.

Voters in Washington have enacted or affirmed the two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases five times during the past 20 years:

Budget transparency bills introduced

February 5, 2013 in Blog

Two bills were introduced in the House today that would improve the transparency of the state's various budgets (operating, capital and transportation).

HB 1721 proposed by Representatives Pike, Alexander, Wilcox, Harris, Crouse and Overstreet would create a 72-hour timeout before votes could occur on appropriation bills. According to the intent section of HB 1721:

What to do about the state’s B&O tax and various preferences

February 4, 2013 in Blog

The Everett Herald ran our op-ed yesterday calling for a Single Business Tax to eventually replace the current Business and Occupation Tax (B&O). From the op-ed:

Senate Ways & Means holds work session on competitive contracting

January 29, 2013 in Blog

The Senate Ways and Means Committee held a work session yesterday on the opportunities for competitive contracting. I was invited to participate on a panel along with a representative from the Washington Federation of State Employees.

My presentation focused on the need to simplify the state's current competitive contracting process while utilizing performance-based contracts. From my testimony:

Legislative transparency constitutional amendment proposed in California

January 23, 2013 in Blog

A constitutional amendment to increase legislative transparency has been proposed in California. According to the Los Angeles Times:

A bipartisan group of California lawmakers concerned by the past rushing of legislation has proposed asking voters to require all bills to be in print and online for 72 hours before final passage.

Supermajority vote proposed for tax breaks; How about tax increases?

January 21, 2013 in Blog

Fulfilling the annual rite of session, Sen. Chase today introduced a graduated income tax proposal (SB 5166) and companion constitutional amendment (SJR 8207). Of note from SJR 8207 is section 4 which would require a supermajority vote (3/5) or voter approval for creation of any tax break.

When will Supreme Court rule on 2/3 for taxes?

January 17, 2013 in Blog

That's the billion dollar question. Another week has gone by without the State Supreme Court issuing its ruling on the state's 20 year old supermajority for taxes requirement. With each passing week the chances of a decision not coming during the 2013 Legislative Session increase. But will a ruling from the Court really change the options for lawmakers?

Not really.

Governor Inslee: "We will provide efficiency, effectiveness and transparency"

January 16, 2013 in Blog

Newly inaugurated Governor Jay Inslee delivered his first speech as Governor to a joint session of the Legislature today. His wide ranging speech touched on many issues. Among them was his goal "to bring disruptive change to Olympia."

From Governor Inslee's speech:

Coalition calls on lawmakers to adopt legislative transparency reforms

January 14, 2013 in Blog

A coalition of good government, media and business groups have signed a letter encouraging state lawmakers to adopt the Washington Policy Center's proposed legislative transparency reforms.

The letter was delivered to lawmakers today on the first day of the 2013 Legislative Session.

From the coalition letter:

Dear Lawmakers,

U.S. Government Accountability Office tackles tax exemptions

January 8, 2013 in Blog

The debate about tax exemptions and their effectiveness is sure to be raged during the 2013 Session.

Rep. Carlyle, Chair of the new House Finance Committee, wrote this insightful blog about what he hopes to accomplish:

State Auditor recommends financial management reforms

January 4, 2013 in Blog

After 20 years in office it is no surprise to see retiring State Auditor Brian Sonntag continue to fight for good government reforms up to his last day.

Yesterday Sonntag released his final annual report highlighting the need for ongoing open government reforms as well as a performance audit recommending improvements to the way Washington State Ferries contracts for ferry construction.