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.

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)