Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More signs for a statewide transportation tax measure in 2012

There are more signals that point to a statewide transportation tax package in 2012. Here is an RFP from the WSDOT on funding a poll. According to the scope, the poll will test . . . READ MORE

Friday, June 24, 2011

Washington leaders driving national agenda

Prior to closing down, the motto for Olympia Beer was "It's the water." Based on recent news from the Attorney General's Office, there is definitely something in the water in Washington that leads to our leaders being recognized nationally. Yesterday a press release was issued announcing that Attorney General Rob McKenna has been selected by his peers to be President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) . . . READ MORE

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Breaking down state employee compensation as a percentage of spending

One of the major points of contention this past year in the Legislature was the impact state employee compensation has as a cost driver of state spending and whether changes should be made to help rein in costs. Based on the razor thin margin the June revenue forecast has left for the state's budget balance sheet, it is likely this conversation will continue in the future. So how exactly does state employee compensation impact state spending? There are a couple of ways to look at this question . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June revenue forecast explained

Remember all the "fun" last week as reporters and budget junkies tried to make heads or tails out of the June revenue forecast? The revenue forecast showed a negative $12 million difference between the March and June forecasts for the two budgets yet the impact on the ending fund balance for 2011-13 showed a reduction of $575 million. So how exactly does that math work? Quite well when you account for the fact the Legislature didn't assume any future revenue loss as a result of booking the tax amnesty funds in its budget balance sheet and then making adjustments for economic and non-economic activity since the March revenue forecast . . . READ MORE

Monday, June 20, 2011

Governor signs agency consolidation/contracting reform

Last week Governor Gregoire signed a proposal to consolidate several administrative agencies and create a review process to help identify opportunities for some competitive contracting. Sponsored by Senators Baumgartner and Zarelli, SB 5931 creates a new Department of Enterprise Services and Department of Consolidated Technology Services by consolidating several administrative agencies and activities . . . READ MORE

Thursday, June 16, 2011

2009-11 budget balanced for a day

That didn't take long. The 2009-11 supplemental budget (rolled into the 2011-13 budget) Governor Gregoire signed yesterday is already projected to end in an $84 million deficit thanks to today's revenue forecast. According to the state's budget director Marty Brown, the ending fund balance for 2009-11 is projected to be minus $84 million and plus $163 million for 11-13. That $163 million reserve for 11-13 is nearly $600 million less than was assumed yesterday when the Governor signed the budgets . . . READ MORE

Liquor "emergency" and performance audit fund raid stand

Over the past few weeks there was speculation as to whether Governor Gregoire would veto the emergency clause off of a liquor contract bill as well as veto the Legislature's raid of the voter-approved dedicated performance audit fund. The answer is no - both actions stand as approved by the Legislature. Here is video of the Governor explaining why she didn't veto the emergency clause off of SB 5942 . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

McKenna on tax increases, 2/3 vote requirement and competitive contracting

Last week Attorney General Rob McKenna did an interview with TVW's Austin Jenkins discussing his positions as a candidate for Governor. Among the policies discussed were McKenna's position on tax increases, whether the voter-approved 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases is constitutional and if the state is fully taking advantage of opportunities for competitive contracting. Here is the video of that interview queued up to the conversation on those three issues . . . READ MORE

Monday, June 13, 2011

Governor to decide if liquor contract is state emergency

This Wednesday Governor Gregoire will take action on the remaining bills from the special session including a proposal to request a contract for running the state's liquor distribution monopoly. Despite this proposal (SB 5942) not being assumed for the budget, an emergency clause was added to the bill meaning a referendum could not be run on the bill and the contract review process would take effect immediately. The emergency clause has worried supporters of a new initiative to end the state's prohibition era liquor monopoly. They believe SB 5942 could short circuit voters' opportunity to consider their new liquor reform proposal . . . READ MORE

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sonntag requests veto of performance audit fund raid

State Auditor Brian Sonntag sent Governor Gregoire a letter last week asking her to veto an $8 million raid of the voter approved dedicated performance audit account. From Sonntag's letter requesting the veto: "Diverting performance audit funding to support unrelated, specific activities at other agencies is wrong. It sets a precedent for future use of this money that is not in keeping with provisions of Initiative 900 . . ." READ MORE

Friday, June 3, 2011

Former Governor Locke still preaching Priorities of Government

While awaiting Senate confirmation of his appointment as U.S. Ambassador to China, outgoing U.S. Commerce Secretary and former Washington Governor Gary Locke is still pushing Priorities of Government (POG) budgeting . . . READ MORE

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Did Senate mess up potential tax lawsuit script?

Yesterday we highlighted Governor Gregoire's comments where she hoped that the State Supreme Court would rule on the constitutionality of the state's 18 year old 2/3 vote restriction for tax increases. Today Tacoma News Tribune Columnist Peter Callaghan dedicates his column to teasing out the legal strategy of House Democrats in trying to gain legal standing to overturn the law through the courts versus through legislation. Callaghan quotes the attorney that last argued before the Supreme Court that the 2/3 vote requirement is unconstitutional as saying that the Democrats may have had a stronger case if the Senate had tried the same vote maneuver . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gregoire wants Court to rule on 18 year old tax restriction

It appears the new motto in Olympia is "If we can't beat voters, sue em." Governor Gregoire has now joined with Democrats in the House and Senate calling on the Courts to throw out the nearly 20 year old requirement that tax increases require a 2/3 vote claiming the restriction is unconstitutional . . . READ MORE