Jmercier

Budget negotiations begin in earnest

April 16, 2013 in Blog

Last Friday the House approved its 2013-15 state operating budget proposal on a party-line 54-43 vote. The only lawmaker to cross-party lines was Rep. Stonier (D) who voted against the budget saying:

Olympian calls for more legislative transparency

April 16, 2013 in Blog

Looks like editors at The Olympian decided to declare April 16 as "Legislative Transparency Day." The capital city newspaper ran two editorials today highlighting our recommendations to improve the public's access to the legislative process.

House budget will require supermajority vote for approval

April 10, 2013 in Blog

Place this in your irony file, after fighting to have the voter-approved supermajority vote requirement for tax increases ruled unconstitutional, the budget proposed today by House Democrats will require a supermajority vote for approval.

House budget on deck

April 9, 2013 in Blog

Last Friday night the Senate approved its operating budget with a bipartisan 30-18 vote. The House is expected to release its counter proposal on Wednesday. As with most budgets there are good and bad components of the Senate plan.

OFM highlights concern with use of dedicated performance audit funds

April 5, 2013 in Blog

With the Senate about to take action on its 2013-15 budget proposal, the Office of Financial Management (OFM) is weighing in. OFM said this about the proposed use of dedicated I-900 performance audit funds:

Senate budget studies

April 4, 2013 in Blog

Having finished reading the 237 page budget summary I'm now digging in to the actual 401 page bill language. At the pace I'm going I'll be reading the Senate "approved" versus "proposed" budget. Despite being only a few pages in some very interesting studies proposed for the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC).

Among them:

Senate 2013-15 budget released

April 3, 2013 in Blog

The Senate Majority Coalition released its $33.2 billion 2013-15 blueprint for the state today at a noon press conference with Republican and Democrat budget writers speaking. Joining GOP Sen. Hill and Sen. Parlette were Democrat Sen. Hargrove and Sen. Nelson. As tweeted by Tacoma News Tribune Columnist Peter Callaghan:

Senate work session focuses on WPC B&O reform proposal

March 28, 2013 in Blog

Business taxes took center stage today in Olympia. While the morning started with a work session in the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee on how to reform the state's hated Business & Occupation Tax (B&O), the afternoon began with Governor Inslee's attempt to re-define what a tax increase is.

The budget speech we should hear today

March 20, 2013 in Blog

At noon today the final piece of the state's 2013-15 budget debate will fall into place as the March Revenue forecast is officially released. Due to the impact of the federal sequester, indications are that the currently projected nearly $2 billion increase in revenue for the next budget will be slightly reduced. While this will still mean revenues will be growing, it will likely fall short of funding the projected baseline spending increases and new policy adds Olympia would like to pursue.

Title only bills used to circumvent state Constitution

March 18, 2013 in Blog

Not only are title only bills (essentially blank pieces of legislation) not the most transparent way to introduce changes to state law (or perhaps too translucent) but they are used by lawmakers to circumvent the state Constitution. This is why it is disappointing to see 26 title only bills (13 in the House by Rep. Hunter and 13 in the Senate by Sen. Hill) introduced today. Budget chairs typically introduce title only bills so they "don't get stuck" at the end of session.

Here are some of the titles of the 26 title only bills (HB 2003-2015 and SB 5870-5882) introduced today:

Improving the performance of tax preferences

March 15, 2013 in Blog

By a vote of 47-0, on March 7 the Senate adopted ESB 5843: Strengthening the review of the legislature's goals for tax preferences. This bill would require explicit legislative intent for new tax preferences and require performance metrics to help evaluate their impact.

Dead, alive and NTIB (necessary to implement the budget)

March 14, 2013 in Blog

With yesterday's 5 p.m. House of Origin cutoff date behind us, here is a status report on several of the bills I've been following:

Open Government

SJR 8205 (Supermajority for taxes) on life support

March 13, 2013 in Blog

With just hours to go until today's 5 p.m. cutoff in the Legislature, it isn't looking promising for SJR 8205 (Supermajority for taxes) being brought to the floor in the Senate for a vote. The proposed constitutional amendment would implement the policy adopted by the voters on five separate occasions over the past 20 years (since 1993) that tax increases require a 2/3 vote of the Legislature or voter approval.

Sun rising in House Rules Committee?

March 9, 2013 in Blog

Tomorrow (March 10) marks the beginning of National Sunshine Week - a time dedicated to celebrating the importance of the people's right to know and the need for strong open government laws. Judging from rumors in the House Rules Committee, the sun may continue to shine bright on Washington's landmark public records law.