Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gregoire releases 2011-13 budget

As a result of the economic climate and the voters' passage of I-1053 (2/3 requirement for tax increases) major changes are coming to the way the state spends money. This fact became crystal clear today at the Governor's budget press conference. Describing her 2011-13 budget proposal, Governor Gregoire said . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Governor proposes agency consolidation

Governor Gregoire announced this morning her proposals for agency consolidations as recommended by her Budget Transformation Committee. As a member of the committee I was asked to participate at her press conference and even had the opportunity to field a press question . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Weathering the pension-debt storm

A pension-debt tsunami is threatening states across the country. According to the Pew Center, states are facing nearly $1 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities including retiree health-care costs. While our situation is not as bleak as it is in some states, Washington nevertheless faces significant pension pressures that must be addressed . . . READ MORE

Ending state's liquor monopoly still worth pursuing

The Senate Labor Committee will hold a work session today to discuss the way the state sells liquor. This will be the first legislative meeting on the state's liquor monopoly since voters rejected Initiatives 1100 and 1105. The question for lawmakers, was the voters' rejection of these measures an endorsement of the state's prohibition era liquor monopoly or instead a rejection of the specific privatization models proposed by the initiatives . . . READ MORE

Monday, December 6, 2010

Congress must provide states more Medicaid flexibility

Earlier this year Washington State officials debated the possibility of opting-out of the federal Medicaid program in order to preserve flexibility in providing health care services to needy families in Washington. As it currently stands, Washington faces a nearly a $6 billion projected budget shortfall. The alternative to opting-out of Medicaid is the potential elimination of all state-only health care programs such as the Basic Health Plan, prescription drug coverage, and the disability lifeline . . . READ MORE

Friday, December 3, 2010

Put Legislature back in charge of employee compensation decisions

Though it remains to be seen if the Legislature will take the action necessary to balance the budget in a special session, recent developments once again underscore the importance of restoring lawmakers' authority to make changes to state employee compensation. According to the Washington Federation of State Employees, the Governor and union agreed last night to change the health-care ratio for state employees from the current 88-12 split to 85-15. This is far below the 74-26 split the Governor had previously said was necessary . . . READ MORE