Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Legislators finally asking right budget question: "Why?"

This morning the House Audit Review & Oversight Committee held a work session to discuss performance monitoring and management in Washington and the next steps to improve government efficiency. Joining the committee members at the round-table styled meeting were a who's who of state performance experts including . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lawmakers hear higher education reform options

The Governor's Higher Education Funding Task Force briefed lawmakers today on the various reform options that are being discussed to reset the state's role in higher education. Gregoire created the task force this past July to focus on three tasks . . . READ MORE

Friday, September 24, 2010

I-1082: Reforming Workers' Compensation in Washington

In November, Washington voters will vote on whether to allow private-sector competition to provide an alternative to the state-run industrial insurance system (workers’ compensation). The state of Washington has had a government-run monopoly for industrial insurance since 1911, and today is one of only four states that do not allow private competition in this industry . . . READ MORE

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Senate Republicans launch "Reset Washington" website

Facing an immediate $520 million deficit and projected $4.5 billion shortfall in the next budget, state officials are calling on Washingtonians to offer recommendations on how to "reset" state spending. Earlier this year Governor Gregorie launched a website (Transforming Washington's Budget) where citizens could offer their budget solutions. Prior to closing the ability to make new entries, 1951 submissions were entered. To date the Governor has posted 5 videos responding to some of the recommendations. Today Senate Republicans launched their own website (Reset Washington) to gather citizen budget recommendations. From the website . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I-1098: Establishing a state income tax

In November the people of Washington will again vote on whether to impose a state income tax. The income tax proposal will appear on the ballot as Initiative 1098. Currently Washington is one of only nine states that do not impose a general income tax on citizens. The people of Washington first considered an income tax in 1932, when it was enacted by a large majority. In 1933 the measure was struck down by the state supreme court as a violation of the constitution’s uniformity clause. In the years since 1932 Washington voters have rejected a state income tax four times, and the supreme court has invalidated income tax bills passed by the legislature . . . READ MORE

Dept. of Labor and Industries wanders into political crossfire

Last week the Department of Labor and Industries announced that it will wait to release its preliminary rate change for 2011 until after the November 2nd general election because Initiative 1082 would fundamentally alter the way rates are calculated . . . READ MORE

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Other shoe drops: Revenue forecast down $1.4 billion

After today's shocking revenue forecast, budget reform is coming one way or another. While all indications pointed to bad news, few could have predicted that state revenue would be $1.4 billion less than what was forecasted just four short months ago . . . READ MORE

Justice Sanders wins part of public records case against Attorney General

Today the State Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case of Justice Richard Sanders versus the Attorney General's Office concerning a public records dispute. Justices Sanders, Jim Johnson and Tom Chambers did not participate in the ruling and were replaced by Pro Tem Justices William Baker, Mary Becker and J.Robert Leach. Writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, Justice Debra Stephens wrote . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Governor makes Sunshine Committee appointments

Last month we highlighted the need for Governor Gregoire to make her appointments as required by law so the state's Sunshine Committee could operate at full strength . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

History of state's liquor initiatives

When voters pass judgment on Initiatives 1100 and 1105 it will be the sixth and seventh time they've been asked to weigh in on the state's liquor laws since 1932 (many more were filed but didn't qualify for the ballot). It was also be the first time since 1972 voters will have the opportunity to end the state's liquor monopoly . . . READ MORE

Monday, September 13, 2010

Governor orders budget cuts while lawmakers campaign

As Governor Gregoire was signing an Executive Order today to set in motion across-the-board budget cuts, legislators were busy on the campaign trail instead of dealing with the problem. By refusing to come back to Olympia to make rational reductions to balance the budget, legislative leaders have forced Gregoire to use the only tool at her disposal -- blunt and unforgiving across-the-board cuts. The extent of these cuts will be determined after Thursday's revenue forecast . . . READ MORE

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I-1107: Repealing tax increases on food and beverages

In November the people of Washington will vote on Initiative 1107. The measure would repeal four of the tax increases enacted earlier this year. If passed in November, Initiative 1107 would repeal the following taxes . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Generically missing drug savings

In an effort to save taxpayers money the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has adopted a policy to purchase generic drugs versus brand names. This cost savings policy makes sense up to the point it forces state officials to look the other way when some brand name drugs with their rebates may in fact be cheaper than generics. The generics at all cost stance has already cost the state millions of dollars as reported by KOMO News last night . . . READ MORE