Judging from the initial budget numbers being projected for 2013-15, the first legislative session for the next Governor will look a lot like the past few legislative sessions: focused on realigning state spending within forecasted revenue.
The Attorney General's Office has submitted the short descriptions for the two non-binding advisory votes that will appear on the November ballot as required by Initiative 960 for tax increases not first submitted to the voters for approval.
Earlier this year State Auditor candidate Rep. Mark Miloscia (D) and Secretary of State candidate Sen. Jim Kastama (D) asked the Attorney General's Office to review the decision by the Office of Financial Management (OFM) to advise agencies to not comply with a state requirement to undergo a quality management assessment.
When adopting for the third time the state's supermajority requirement for tax increases in 2007 with the passage of Initiative 960, voters also approved the requirement for a non-binding advisory vote for any tax increase not first sent to the voters for ratification.
This legal requirement means voters should have the opportunity to consider at least one tax increase advisory vote this fall.
The Secretary of State's Office has certified I-1185 for the November ballot. If approved by voters, I-1185 will mark the fifth time in the last 20 years that voters have adopted the requirement for tax increases to receive a supermajority vote or voter approval.
Here is the track record for the state 2/3 vote requirement for taxes policy at the ballot:
Though somewhat lost in the background of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the federal health care law, the Court's decision to give states discretion on whether to pursue the law's expansion of Medicaid could have the biggest impact on state budgets going forward.
Lawmakers received some good news today with the state's caseload forecast adding approximately $56 million to the minuscule budget ending fund balance. Had the caseload forecast instead gone the other way and resulted in an increase of $56 million in costs, the balance sheet for only the general fund would have been a negative $33 million.
Based on a state brief in the roll-your-own cigarette "tax" lawsuit being heard today at 2 p.m. in Franklin County, lawmakers may be able to ignore a law without first repealing it by passing a new law.
Next week the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide the fate of the controversial federal health care law. With the Court's ruling less than a week a way it was interesting to see the following sole-source contract notice posted yesterday by the Office of Financial Management (OFM):
State Auditor candidate Rep. Mark Miloscia (D) and Secretary of State candidate Sen. Jim Kastama (D) are unhappy with the decision by the Office of Financial Management (OFM) to advise agencies to not comply with a state requirement to undergo a quality management assessment. Rep. Miloscia and Sen. Kastama have asked the Attorney General's Office to review OFM's action and provide an official opinion on the legality of the decision.
Jason Mercier is Director of the Center for Government Reform at Washington Policy Center. He is a contributing editor of the Heartland Institute’s Budget & Tax News, serves on the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, and was an advisor to the 2002 Washington State Tax Structure Committee. In June 2010, former Governor Gregoire appointed Jason as WPC’s representative on her Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Panel. Jason holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Washington State University.