Friday, May 28, 2010

States go bust in blackjack budgeting

The collective gasp being heard in capitols across the country is a result of Congress dealing gambling state officials a bust card in their game of blackjack budgeting. Earlier this month we highlighted how Washington was putting its faith in Congress to deliver $480 million in one-time federal Medicaid funds to help balance the budget. By leaving only $452 million in reserves, should Congress not come through with the assumed $480 million, the Governor said she will be forced to issue across-the-board cuts as required by law or call a special session.  It looks like that is becoming more of a possibility with each passing day . . . READ MORE

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lawmakers passed 14% of tax or fee bills introduced in 2010

The Office of Financial Management (OFM) has published its I-960 Bill Analysis Statistics for the 2010 Session. According to OFM . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Serve on your own dime

Earlier this year the Legislature passed HB 2617 eliminating 45 boards and commissions. Among the provisions of the bill was the prohibition of reimbursement for travel or expenses for those serving on certain boards. Yesterday the Director of the Office of Financial Management released a memo to executive branch agencies with details on how to implement this new policy . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Book 'em Danno (but don't release the photos in Washington)

Hawaii Five-O fans will remember most episodes ending with the phrase "Book 'em Danno." In Hawaii, police booking photos (or mug shots) are subject to public disclosure. They aren't in Washington. The state's Sunshine Committee met today and had a very spirited discussion about this practice and whether police booking photos should be subject to public disclosure.  A bill was introduced last year (HB 2115) to make these photos available to the public but it was not voted on. A recommendation offered today by Sunshine Committee member Rowland Thompson would not only require booking photos to be posted publicly on an agency website but also . . . READ MORE

Friday, May 14, 2010

UW set up for touchdown with new stadium funding plan

After several false starts, the University of Washington has positioned itself to score a touchdown with its new funding plan to renovate Husky Stadium. As reported by the Seattle Times . . . READ MORE

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Governor puts universities on notice

Those attending this morning's GMAP session on education performance saw the Governor repeatedly voice displeasure with the performance of the state's four-year universities. Saying that the performance agreements with the universities have resulted in zero change, Governor Gregoire served notice that she expects better results and wants to see them provide incentives to students to graduate in four years.  The Governor used a personal example of how she was able to encourage her daughters to graduate in four years. She said she told them that after four years they had to pay their own way. Here is the audio of the Governor's agitated comments . . . READ MORE

Monday, May 10, 2010

R-52 subject of ballot title challenge

The Association of Washington Business (AWB) filed a ballot title challenge today to R-52, the green jobs bond bill. From AWB's press release . . . READ MORE

Is your favorite candy a taxable candy?

To help the state's shop owners decipher whether the candy sitting on their shelves will be subject to the state's sales tax starting June 1, the Department of Revenue (DOR) has created a list of which candies failed the tax exempt lottery. The good news, around 260 candies are still exempt from the sales tax. The bad news, more than 3,000 aren't. So what qualifies as taxable candy . . . READ MORE

Friday, May 7, 2010

Race to the top in union pay

Earlier this week the state Department of Personnel (DOP) released the results of its salary survey to help determine how state worker pay stacks up against market rates . . . READ MORE

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Is an income tax the only alternative to the dreaded B&O tax?

This November voters will likely have the opportunity to vote for the tenth time on an attempt to create an income tax in Washington. As evident by the lack of an income tax in the state, past attempts have not been successful at the polls (with the exception being in 1932 though the tax was ruled unconstitutional). What is interesting about the new income tax proposal being discussed is the attempt to sell it as small business relief from the state's unique and onerous Business and Occupation (B&O) tax. There is, however, a better way. Last year Governor Gregoire said, "If you want to come forward with an alternative to the B&O tax system in the state of Washington, the welcome mat is out from me." The Washington Policy Center decided to take her up on her offer and modeled the impacts of various replacement taxes . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

2010 new laws

By signing the budget yesterday Governor Gregoire wrapped up (hopefully) the 2010 actions of the Legislature. The House Office of Program Research has put together a good summary of the more than 300 bills passed by the Legislature this year. From the report . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Washington's budget motto: "In Congress we trust"

Today Governor Gregoire signed the 2010 supplemental budget. In doing so she put her faith and trust in Congress that additional federal funds will be approved to help her avoid making across-the-board cuts. By making 60 vetoes to SB 6444, Gregoire reduced the state's reserves to $452 million (just over one percent) for the 2009-11 biennium. Unfortunately, to temporarily balance the budget, lawmakers rely on an extension of $480 million in one-time federal Medicaid funds that have yet to pass Congress. According to, assuming these new federal funds is no longer the sure thing it was once thought to be . . . READ MORE

Monday, May 3, 2010

State Supreme Court hit with audit finding

When thinking of the various grievances one could have with the state Supreme Court, financial mismanagement doesn't usually come to mind. According to an audit released today, however, it looks like even the state's highest court is in need of a watchful eye. From the audit . . . READ MORE