The people's right to know has received a serious shot in the arm this session with numerous open government bills under consideration. The Attorney General's proposals to require training of government officials have already received executive action in the House and public hearings in the Senate. Several bills have also been introduced to make more budget related information available online.
During the heat of the debate last year on HB 1128 and whether or not government entities should be able to sue citizens to keep from disclosing public records, the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) sent out a public records request to determine the extent of any problem facing local governments concerning compliance with the people's right to know.
Although 2014 is a general election year with control of the Legislature up for grabs and still unknown ballot measures yet to qualify, perhaps the most important vote of the year will be tomorrow on Boeing's 777X contract offer. Not only does this union vote have the potential to impact tens of thousands of jobs, but it could dramatically change the state's fiscal outlook, not to mention its economic psyche.
After going through multiple special sessions to adopt the state's 2013-15 budget, the last thing lawmakers will want to do is fight about a 2014 supplemental budget. State agencies, however, have already submitted their 2014 supplemental budget wish list requesting a combined increase in spending of $895 million and 806 new FTEs.
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:
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.
Jason Mercier is the Director of the Center for Government Reform at Washington Policy Center and is based in the Tri-Cities. He serves on the boards of the Washington Coalition for Open Government and CandidateVerification, and was an advisor to the 2002 Washington State Tax Structure Committee. Jason is an ex-officio for the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce. In June 2010, former Governor Gregoire appointed Jason as WPC’s representative on her Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Panel.