Wednesday, July 27, 2011

State view of federal debt debate

With the August 2 deadline less than a week away before the federal government reaches its debt limit, state budget officials across the country are preparing for the potential impact on state budgets depending on what Congress and the President agree (or don't agree) to. According to at least one state budget director, there will be "no happy endings" for states regardless of what occurs. Washington's budget director, Marty Brown, however, is a little more optimistic . . . READ MORE

Monday, July 25, 2011

WEA/House Democrats sue voters over 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases

In the waning hours of the "budget focused" special session Democrats in the House and Senate both attempted to cue up votes on a tax bill not assumed in the budget that no one expected to pass. The strategy was to try to gain legal standing to sue the voters to overturn the 18 year old 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases. Today this legislative charade has come to fruition as several House Democrats have joined the Washington Education Association (WEA) and the League of Education Voters to file a lawsuit to overturn the four-time voter approved 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases. Here is a copy of today's legal filing . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Graphical review of state's 2011-13 budget

Though it took a special session to finish its work on the 2011-13 budget, the legislature took positive steps this year to put the state on a more sustainable budget path. Despite progress, however, an inadequate reserve fund coupled with ongoing economic uncertainty and projected future spending pressure leaves the state’s budget outlook on tenuous ground highlighting the need for additional structural reforms and spending restraint . . . READ MORE

Friday, July 15, 2011

WA lawmakers to hold public work session in Portland, OR

Next Thursday Washington lawmakers from the House and Senate will hold a joint work session in Portland, OR. While it may seem strange for state lawmakers to hold a public meeting in a different state, technically they aren't. At least according to state definitions of out-of-state travel. While there is no danger of Washington attempting to annex parts of Oregon, Idaho, or British Columbia, according to the Senate . . . READ MORE

Thursday, July 14, 2011

JLARC releases 2011 tax preference report

 One of the hot topics from the 2011 Legislative Session sure to resurface next year is what to do about the state's various tax preferences. To assist the Legislature in answering this question, in 2006, lawmakers adopted HB 1069 which set up the Citizen Commission for Performance Measurement of Tax Preferences administered by the Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee (JLARC). WPC's Vice President for Research Paul Guppy serves on the commission. Today JLARC released the commission's 2011 tax preference report. Of the 25 tax preferences reviewed, JLARC recommends the Legislature . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Washington's credit rating: "Stable"

Washington State is faring better than Washington D.C. when it comes to governmental credit rating. While national credit rating firms have put the U.S. on their "watch" list for possible downgrade, Washington State has been given a "stable" rating for its response to balancing the state's budget. That said, clouds remain on the horizon that could impact our future credit rating. Here are the July 2011 reports for the state from Moody's and Standard and Poor's . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

State Auditor releases review of performance-based contracting

At the request of Governor Gregoire, State Auditor Brian Sonntag released a report last week detailing the state's current use of performance-based contracting and identifying opportunities for improvements. The report stems from an Executive Order issued by the Governor last November. From the report . . . READ MORE

Friday, July 1, 2011

Inslee on income tax and 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases

Last night Congressman Jay Inslee did an interview with TVW's Austin Jenkins discussing his positions as a candidate for Governor. Among the policies discussed were Inslee's position on tax increases and whether the voter-approved 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases is constitutional. Here is the video of that interview queued up to the conversation on those issues . . . READ MORE

Department of Revenue Recommends Tax Simplification to Help Small Businesses

A new report from the Washington state Department of Revenue (DOR) makes a positive suggestion, one that is well overdue but welcome nonetheless: simplify the administration of the state and local Business & Occupation (B&O) tax system. Several months ago DOR reached out to the small business community and what they found from over 1,100 comments was that the greatest tax complexity problems faced by Washington small businesses related to . . . READ MORE