Thursday, August 26, 2010

Legal Analysis by Former State Supreme Court Justice says I-1098 Income Tax is Unconstitutional

A new legal analysis written for Washington Policy Center by respected former state Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge finds that, if passed by voters this November, Initiative 1098 would likely be ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. Justice Talmadge was a state Supreme Court Justice from 1995-2001 and served as a Democratic member of the State Senate from 1979-1995, where he chaired the Judiciary and Health Care Committees. According to Justice Talmadge, “Initiative 1098 is clearly unconstitutional on the basis of existing case law. Its enactment will only guarantee protracted litigation to determine if the initiative meets constitutional muster . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Time to reset state union rules

Whether it be state unions fighting the legislature's furlough savings plan or digging lines in the sand over ways to reduce state health care costs, it is becoming clear that the budget isn't the only thing that needs transformation. It is also time to re-evaluate the so-called 2002 Civil Service Reform that put state unions in the driver's seat and policy makers in the back seat when it comes to certain budget decisions. The 2002 "reform" first took full effect during the 2005-07 biennium. Under the new rules state unions no longer had to have their priorities weighed equally with every other special interest during the legislative budget process. Instead they now negotiate directly with the Governor, while lawmakers only have the opportunity to say yes or no to the entire contract agreed to with the Governor. Lawmakers can't make any changes . . . READ MORE

Monday, August 23, 2010

I-1053: Restoring the Two-thirds Vote Requirement for Tax Increases

In November the people of Washington will vote on Initiative 1053. The measure would reinstate the state law requiring that tax increases be adopted with a two-thirds vote in the Legislature. Earlier this year state lawmakers repealed the two-thirds vote requirement until July 1, 2011. Here is our analysis of I-1053 . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Agencies respond to Governor's budget questions

To help address the state's projected $3 billion shortfall for the next budget the Governor has asked agencies to answer eight questions for every activity they do. Those questions are . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sunshine Committee needs Governor's attention

The state's Sunshine Committee (Public Records Exemptions Accountability Committee) has survived legislative efforts the past few years to eliminate its existence. Now it appears the Committee is facing a new threat, gubernatorial neglect. Under the law, the Governor appoints six of the Committee's thirteen members including the Chair. To have a quorum at least seven of the members must be present at a meeting. As of today four of the Governor's six appointee slots are either vacant or expired, including former Chair Tom Carr . . . READ MORE

3,000 teacher layoffs and I-1098

One of the rallying cries for the recent $26 billion federal bailout bill was the need to avoid teacher layoffs. Washingtonians we're told that quick action by Congress would save 3,000 teacher jobs. Here is how prime sponsor of the education spending, Sen. Patty Murray, described her effort . . . READ MORE

Monday, August 16, 2010

Do Californians hate supermajority tax requirement?

Based on a draft con statement for the November voter's guide, it looks like the opponents of Initiative 1053 (Restoring I-960's supermajority requirement for tax increases) plan to focus on California as the reason why voters should reject the measure. According to the draft con statement . . . READ MORE

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Special session still needed

Governor Gregoire announced today that across-the-board cuts are guaranteed to occur in September despite the passage of half a billion in one-time federal bailout funds by Congress this week. This is due to continued weakness in state revenue collections. According to the Governor's press release . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

OFM publishes fiscal analysis of Initiatives

The Office of Financial Management (OFM) has released its fiscal analysis of the six initiatives and one referendum on the ballot this fall. The fiscal reviews are required by RCW 29A.72.025. According to the law . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Citizens engaged on need for budget reforms

According to the Governor's Office more than 1,550 Washingtonians attended four public hearings across the state last month to discuss ways to reform the state's budget. Of those, 400 signed up to testify while 161 were provided the time to do so. An additional 315 submitted comment cards or written material. In addition, nearly 1,900 suggestions have been posted on the Governor's Transforming Washington's Budget website. Users are able to vote for their favorite recommendations. Here are the top ten vote recipients to date . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

State may dodge short-term deficit bullet

State officials took a half a billion dollar gamble and may have won with the river card. Today the U.S. Senate voted to move forward with debate on a bill to provide Washington with more than $500 million in one-time federal bailout funds. Governor Gregoire was quick to respond to the news . . . READ MORE