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.

What's New

Laws enacted by voters need more protections

February 25, 2010 in In the News
Seattle PostGlobe
Source: 
Seattle PostGlobe
Date: 
Thursday, February 25, 2010

Voter-Approved Taxpayer Protection Gone for Now - Economy Shows Signs of Weakness

February 25, 2010 in In the News
Washington Alliance for a Competitive Economy
Source: 
Washington Alliance for a Competitive Economy
Date: 
Thursday, February 25, 2010

Laws enacted by voters need more protections

February 25, 2010 in Blog

Yesterday Governor Gregoire enacted a 2-year repeal of many of Initiative 960's provisions. While this is not the first time a voter approved initiative has been changed, it represents the third time this particular voter enacted policy (2/3 vote for tax increases) has been set aside.

One of the ironies of this latest action is that a 2/3 vote requirement can be repealed by a simple majority vote.

Although initiatives adopted by the people are statutory law just like bills passed by the Legislature, it is a much higher hurdle for citizens to get their laws enacted. As such there should be a high threshold to change or repeal their laws or they should at least have a say.

This is why the Washington Policy Center's Policy Guide proposes constitutional changes:

"Adopt constitutional reform that requires!
a two-thirds vote of the legislature to amend a voter-approved initiative. The two-year limitation on requiring a two-thirds vote of lawmakers to amend an initiative should be eliminated, so that the two-thirds requirement applies whenever the legislature seeks to change a voter-approved law. The only time legislators should be allowed to amend an initiative with a simple majority vote is when they first send the proposed changes to the voters for approval."

If there are technical problems with an initiative or circumstances change that warrant immediate repeal or changes, a 2/3 vote should be sufficient. If this threshold can’t be reached, the Legislature should submit their changes to the voters via a referendum for ratification.

Additional information on this proposal is available on page 13 of this pdf.

Governor signs I-960 bill without vetoing advisory vote repeal

February 24, 2010 in Blog

Governor Gregoire signed SB 6130 as adopted by the Legislature. There was some question as to whether the Governor would veto the 2-year repeal of the non-binding advisory votes.

She said that she delayed the bill signing today to consider the requests to veto that section of the bill.

As a result of today's action the Washington Policy Center will be publishing an I-960 voter's pamphlet.

Comparison of House and Senate budgets

February 24, 2010 in Blog

The following information is courtesy of the state's budget transparency website (fiscal.wa.gov). The House budget decreases near general fund spending by $322 million while increasing total spending by $1.5 billion. The Senate budget decreases near general fund spending by $141 million while increasing total spending by $1.8 billion. Details below:

 
House

style="text-align: center;">Senate

Housevsenate

New taxes not needed to protect Puget Sound

February 24, 2010 in In the News
The Snohomish Times
Source: 
The Snohomish Times
Date: 
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Senate tax bills available

February 23, 2010 in Blog

Here are the tax bills mentioned at today's Senate budget press conference:

Of note from the proposals:

  • The business exemptions repeal bill is 133 pages.
  • The sales tax increase would expire on June 30, 2013.
  • Both SB 6874 and SB 6875 would make permanent changes to the state's spending limit by exempting the deposits into and appropriations from the "dedicated" accounts from the spending limit calculation.

Additional information on the Senate tax increases available here.

Senate targets business tax exemptions and sales tax increase

February 23, 2010 in Blog

The Senate Democrats released their budget blueprint this morning. We'll have additional analysis on the specifics after we've had time to read the proposal but in the meantime here are details on the tax increases being proposed:

Senatetaxes

Here are the details on the tax exemptions being closed:

Taxexemption

Additional information available here.

Senate puts breaks on tax initiative

February 23, 2010 in In the News
The Olympian
Source: 
The Olympian
Date: 
Tuesday, February 23, 2010