Jmercier

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.

Columbian: Legislators must regain public confidence by emphasizing transparency

January 2, 2013 in Blog

The Vancouver Columbian has re-issued its call for state lawmakers to adopt much needed legislative transparency reforms reflecting our recommendations. From the Columbian editorial:

Budget priorities: Compensation increases?

December 18, 2012 in Blog

In my post earlier today I broke down Governor Gregoire's proposed tax increases. In her document explaining her Book 1 Budget (no tax increases), she said she proposed these tax increases because not doing so would result in:

Gregoire's lame-duck tax increase proposal

December 18, 2012 in Blog

Taxes took center stage today in Olympia. Out-going Governor Gregoire released her last budget proposal along with her suggested tax increases.

Potential Democrat sponsors for supermajority for taxes constitutional amendment

December 12, 2012 in Blog

With almost all of the legislative Republicans on the record in support of providing the voters an opportunity to consider a supermajority for taxes constitutional amendment, are there any Democrats that believe the voters should have this chance? 

Comparing late ballots in OR and WA

December 10, 2012 in Blog

In response to our recommendation that lawmakers act on retiring Secretary of State Sam Reed's proposal to change Washington's postmark ballot deadline to Oregon's 8 p.m. election day deadline (with exceptions for military and overseas voters), some have expressed concern that doing so would reduce voter participation and disenfranchise voters.

Michigan shows need for Washington legislative transparency reforms

December 7, 2012 in Blog

When I saw this headline today out of Michigan I didn't think the article would become the poster child for legislative transparency reforms, but that's exactly what the story demonstrates: Right-to-work bills pass in Lansing

Voters' mandate on tax increases

December 5, 2012 in Blog

What constitutes a clear mandate from the voters?

Let's consider the electoral history of the state's supermajority for taxes requirement.

Is it going five for five at the ballot box? Check (passed in 1993, 1998, 2007, 2010 and 2012).

Is it nearly 20 years of consistent support? Check.

Is it receiving the highest % support of any other statewide measure or office? Check (64%).

Is it receiving the most total number of votes of any other statewide measure or office? Check (1,892,969).

Is it passing in every county in the state? Check.

Average Washington State Pension Benefits

November 29, 2012 in Blog

According to the State Actuary’s 2011 valuation report of Washington’s pension system, the average annual state pension for all plans is $21,493 (weighted by headcount). 

Here is a summary of the average annual pensions for the state’s major plans (As of June 30, 2011; Service retirees only; Excludes the value of the Plan 3 defined contribution (DC) account) 

Budget outlook released for 2013-15

November 14, 2012 in Blog

When the Legislature adopted the state's first balanced budget requirement last session (SB 6636) it also required a standardized 4 year budget outlook to be published. Today's revenue forecast saw the release of the first official 4 year budget outlook required under SB 6636.

58 lawmakers support letting voters decide supermajority tax issue

November 14, 2012 in Blog

If the election results hold (still 178,863 ballots left to count) there will be at least 58 lawmakers in Olympia next January that answered yes to this question:

If Initiative 1185 is adopted, would you vote to allow the people of Washington to have the opportunity to vote on a state constitution amendment to require a supermajority vote in the legislature to raise taxes?

Olympia: Can you hear taxpayers now?

November 7, 2012 in Blog

Not only did voters for the fifth time in the past twenty years approve a supermajority for taxes requirement but they also are recommending that lawmakers repeal the two tax increases they adopted last session. Just in case a translation for these votes is really needed, lawmakers should focus their attention on balancing the 2013-15 without tax increases.

Newspapers call for election reform

November 6, 2012 in Blog

As Americans head to the polls today, Washingtonians who haven't voted yet should drop their ballot off at designated drop sites. Although our ballots only need to be postmarked by today's deadline, election officials advise instead to drop off your ballots versus take the chance on the mail today to ensure they are eligible for counting.

Our neighbors in Oregon also are voting exclusively by mail. Unlike Washington, however, Oregon's ballots need to be received by 8 p.m. tonight versus postmarked.

Sam Reed forecasts what to expect on Election Night

November 2, 2012 in Blog

Retiring Secretary of State Sam Reed was a guest on TVW's Inside Olympia last night discussing what to expect on Election Night next week.

According to Reed:

Lawmakers schedule LEAN work session

October 30, 2012 in Blog

Whether it is at the forefront of the race for Governor or the focus of a recent 2-day state conference led by Governor Gregoire, LEAN is taking Washington by storm. Now it looks like the Legislature is getting in the mix. The House General Government Appropriations & Oversight Committee will hold a work session on state LEAN activities on November 29: