Open Government

WPC's Center for Government Reform's mission is to partner with stakeholders and citizens to work toward a government focused on its core functions while improving its transparency, accountability, performance, and effectiveness for taxpayers.

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Gregoire: No guarantee of federal bailout money

January 21, 2010 in Blog

Governor Chris Gregoire was the keynote speaker at today's Association of Washington Business Lobby lunch. The Governor spoke about the budget, green-jobs bond bill, government reform, education reform and tax exemptions. Here are some of the highlights:

Budget

  • She doesn't know what the state can expect now from the federal government in light of Tuesday's election in Massachusetts. She said there is the potential for nothing from the feds but she is waiting to see if anything might still be passed before sine die.
  • She is stressing with lawmakers that the state's budget problems are at a minimum for three-years and they shouldn't approach this year as merely a supplemental budget. Long-term reforms are not discretionary.
  • She is open to tax increases that "won't hurt the economy."

Green-jobs bond bill

  • The Governor was asked whether she supports EHB 2561 adopted yesterday by the House. She said that she wants to find a way to stimulate jobs but we can't continue to focus on stimulating public sector jobs; we need to stimulate private sector jobs.
  • She also said that until the State Treasurer tells her this proposal will not jeopardize the state's credit rating she cannot support it. Yesterday the Treasurer warned that the bill "would threaten the state’s bond rating and increase debt service obligations on the general fund by $126 million a biennium once fully implemented."
  • Gregoire then reiterated instead, "It's time for us to stimulate private sector jobs that will continue in the future."

Government reform

  • Discussing legislative concerns with her reform proposals the Governor said that if "we keep the attitude going of not in my backyard, nothing will get done." Lawmakers need to get things in perspective and not put their heads in the sand. She closed by saying that the state must re-boot and called on the business community to encourage lawmakers to enact meaningful reforms since they are "losing their stomach" for the changes needed.

Education reform and Race to the Top

  • The Governor was asked if the education reforms she's proposing will guarantee the state will qualify for the Race to the Top funds. Gregoire said she can't guarantee we'll be eligible if her education package is enacted but she can guarantee we won't be if the legislature doesn't act on it. She was also asked about charter schools but said she has no plan to pursue them since the voters have consistently rejected them.

Tax exemptions

  • The other noteworthy comment the Governor made was in regard to efforts to close business tax exemptions. She said that getting rid of exemptions is a nice thing to say but you can't get rid of a lot of them without hurting our economy. This comment appeared to throw cold water on some of the efforts for large scale repeal of tax exemptions.

Budget transparency bill scheduled for hearing

January 21, 2010 in Blog

It looks like the state budget may receive a little more sunlight. The bipartisan 72 hour budget timeout bill is scheduled for a public hearing next Monday and may receive executive action later in the week. Here are additional details:

Sponsors: Representatives Alexander, Seaquist, Bailey, Ericks, Dammeier, Schmick, Wallace, Morrell, Simpson, Smith

2010 REGULAR SESSION
    Jan 15  First reading, referred to Ways & Means. (View Original Bill)
    Jan 25  Scheduled for pu!
blic hearing in the House Committee on Ways & Means at 3:30 PM. (Subject to change) (Committee Materials)
    Jan 26  Scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Ways & Means at 3:30 PM. (Subject to change) (Committee Materials)
    Jan 27  Scheduled for executive ses!
sion in the House Committee on Ways & Means at 3:30 PM. (Subject to!
change) (Committee Materials)

Will sun set on Sunshine Committee?

January 21, 2010 in Blog

The House Committee on State Government & Tribal Affairs heard public testimony this morning on HB 2617: Eliminating certain boards and commissions. Among the boards targeted for elimination is the Public Records Exemptions Accountability Committee (a.k.a. Sunshine Committee).

This is not the first time the Sunshine Committee has been in the legislature's crosshairs. Last year Sen. Darlene Fairley (D-32) introduced SB 5119: Eliminating the public exemptions accountability committee.

The bill was not brought up for a vote.

According to the Attorney General's Office, the cost to operate the Sunshine Committee has been $32,323!
since 2007. The majority of that was during the 2007-09 budget. The cost for the current budget has been $5,563.

Perhaps more troubling than the proposal to eliminate the Sunshine Committee is the fact that none of its recommendations from 2009 have been introduced for consideration this session. This includes the sense of the Committee that the legislature's exemption from the public records act should be repealed.

Although none of the Sunshine Committee's 2009 recommendations have been introduced, lawmakers have found time to propose several c!
hanges to the public records act that concern open government advocates.

WashingtonVotes is the best way to follow the Legislature

January 21, 2010 in In the News
Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal
Source: 
Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal
Date: 
Thursday, January 21, 2010

The impact of national health care reform on Washington State

January 21, 2010 in In the News
Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal
Source: 
Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal
Date: 
Thursday, January 21, 2010

McGinn's folly? Time to step back from constant tax hikes

January 21, 2010 in In the News
SeattlePI.com
Source: 
SeattlePI.com
Date: 
Thursday, January 21, 2010

U.S. losing ground in global competitiveness

January 20, 2010 in Blog

A new report out today from The Heritage Foundation reports that the United States is losing ground to its major competitors in the global marketplace. The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom, co-published with The Wall Street Journal, reports that out of the top 20 world economies, the U.S. suffered the largest drop in overall economic freedom. 

"Scores declined in seven of the 10 categories of economic freedom. Losses were particularly significant in the areas of financial freedom, monetary freedom and property rights. Driving it all were the federal government's interventionist responses to the financial and economic crises of the last two years, which have included politically influenced regulatory changes, protectionist trade restrictions, massive stimulus spending and bailouts !
of financial and automotive firms deemed "too big to fail." These policies have resulted in job losses, discouraged entrepreneurship and saddled American with unprecedented government deficits."

The U.S. was previously ranked at 6th most free and now occupies the 8th place. Canada now ranks higher and boasts the highest North American ranking. Hong Kong continues to lead the rankings, for the 16th consecutive year, followed by Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. 

Why is economic freedom important? Because it leads to innovation, risk-taking, entrepreneurship and ultimately, a higher standard of living. This helps alleviate poverty and leads to higher levels of education. Not only that, but successful economies churn out product and profit and tax revenue, which is used to help pay for vital infrastructure such as roads, schools, police, a cleaner environment and social safety nets. 

It's no coincidence that gro!
ups like Washington Policy Center advocate for freer economies!
and streamlined, accountable government. The smaller the tax and regulatory burden on our businesses and entrepreneurs, the more successful they will become. This results in a win-win for folks in the private and public sectors. 

How Government Officials Increase Home Prices

January 20, 2010 in In the News
Insider Online (Heritage Foundation)
Source: 
Insider Online (Heritage Foundation)
Date: 
Wednesday, January 20, 2010