Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Voters may be asked to increase sales tax by half a billion dollars

Thanks to Washingtonians' approval of I-1053's 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases in 2010, voters will have the final say on any potential tax increases in 2012. When announcing her budget yesterday, Governor Gregoire said she wants voters to weigh in on her plan to raise the sales tax by $500 million for the current budget. Involving the voters in this decision would not be occurring if not for the four-time voter approval of the state's 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases (currently under legal challenge) . . . READ MORE

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Budget writers keep eye on Europe

If you see your lawmakers monitoring news in Europe, chances are it's not for vacation planning but instead state budget planning. According to the state's economist Dr. Arun Raha, economic turmoil in Europe could play a huge role in our state budget debate. From today's state revenue forecast . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Open Letter to Governor Gregoire detailing Small Business Recommendations

While the focus of lawmakers during the upcoming special session will be on the budget, one of our best opportunities to combat the economic recession lies with Washington's small businesses. In light of this, Washington Policy Center sent Governor Gregoire a letter outlining small business owners’ top policy recommendations selected at our Small Business Conference in September. We hope that these recommendations from the business community can guide lawmakers as they seek to balance the budget and reinvigorate Washington’s economy . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

State's liquor monopoly repealed

It may have taken nearly 80 years but Washington's liquor monopoly has finally been repealed by voters. By a somewhat surprising margin, voters across the state are approving I-1183 60-40%. Ending the state's liquor monopoly has been a long time goal of the Washington Policy Center. It is exciting to see voters embrace the idea of focusing government efforts on strict enforcement of the public health, safety and drinking-age laws related to liquor sales, while leaving the business of distributing, pricing and selling liquor products to the competitive marketplace. Washingtonians are also approving SJR 8206 to enhance the state's rainy-day savings account. The measure is passing by a margin of 67-33% . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Election Week

As voters across America head to the polls today, Washingtonians instead will be busy getting their ballots postmarked for the state's vote by mail election. While some results will trickle in tonight, it is likely that several races won't be finalized until later this week (or month) as ballots dropped in the mail this evening make their way through the postal system. Unlike our neighbors to the south in Oregon, who also vote exclusively by mail, our ballots aren't due today but instead need only be postmarked. In the vast majority of states mail-in ballots must either be received by Election Day or must be dropped off before the polls close. Washington, however, only requires that a ballot be postmarked by Election Day. This policy unnecessarily complicates the tabulation of votes and can leave the results of close races a mystery for weeks . . . READ MORE

Friday, November 4, 2011

TVW takes a look at budget options

This week's edition of Inside Olympia takes a look at the state's budget outlook. Here is the teaser: "How to bridge the state's $2-billion budget gap? Are new taxes an option? What should state lawmakers do to create jobs and boost the economy? Host Austin Jenkins hears from business and labor, plus liberal and conservative think tanks."Interviewed for the show were Jeff Johnson (Washington State Labor Council), Don Brunell (Association of Washington Business), Remy Trupin (Washington State Budget and Policy Center), and myself . . . READ MORE

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2/3 vote requirement for tax increases goes on trial January 14, 2013

It looks like lawmakers better get used to abiding by the 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases - at least until 2013. Earlier this year several House Democrats 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 . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

DES seeking public comment on draft procurement rules/OFM rejects liquor warehouse proposals

The new Department of Enterprise Services is seeking public comments on its proposed draft procurement rules and the Office of Financial Management has recommended that neither of the proposals received to lease the state's liquor warehouse be accepted . . . READ MORE

Colorado voters reject education tax increases

Election day came a week early in Colorado and based on the results, proponents of tax increases may want to focus on plan B. Granted this was a Colorado election but voters there last night crushed a proposal to raise taxes for education spending. Here are the details courtesy of KWGN in Colorado . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Should tribal gaming revenue sharing be on the table?

While lawmakers consider the Governor's proposed budget reductions, discussions of ways to generate new revenues are growing louder. The perennial favorite is to close business tax exemptions. WPC's Vice President for Research, Paul Guppy, addressed that topic in an op-ed today published by Publicola (in-part) . . . READ MORE

Boeing helps state with Lean management reforms

When announcing her proposed budget reduction strategy, Governor Gregoire also highlighted one way the state hopes to improve service delivery even as changes are made to program funding levels: Lean management. Gregoire noted at her budget press conference: "One example is we have partnered with Boeing to launch lean-management tools across our agencies, and we already are seeing early successes." What exactly are Lean-management tools . . . READ MORE