Thursday, August 30, 2012

State ramps up LEAN efforts

With only a few months left in her term as Governor, Gregoire is continuing full speed ahead with her efforts to cement LEAN management principles in state practice. Adding to her prior LEAN efforts the Governor will keynote the Washington State Government Lean Transformation Conference on October 23/24 in Tacoma. Today the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) initiated a RFQ for LEAN Consultant Services . . . READ MORE

WA Supreme Court rules against tribes in gas tax case

The Washington State Supreme Court just issued their decision in the tribal gas tax tax, siding with the plaintiff and sending the case back to the trial court to proceed without the tribes as a party. In 2006, Governor Christine Gregoire negotiated an agreement with Washington State Indian tribes that exempts tribally owned fuel stations from paying 75% of state gas taxes. The compacts allow the tribes to spend the money on non-highway purposes, a clear violation of the 18th Amendment. A group called the Automotive United Trades Organization (AUTO) challenged the compacts and a lower court dismissed the case because the tribes had sovereign immunity. AUTO appealed to the Supreme Court . . .  READ MORE

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

State officials start process to lobby Pentagon on Washington State military spending

With the threat of national defense sequestrations looming, Washington State officials are starting efforts to lobby the Pentagon on the next potential shoe to drop: Base realignments and closure. Yesterday the Office of Financial Management released a Request For Proposals (RFP) to . . . READ MORE

Monday, August 27, 2012

Association of Washington Business files legal brief in support of supermajority vote for taxes law

Undeterred by four straight losses at the ballot box (2010, 2007, 1998 and 1993), opponents of Washington's nearly 20 year old supermajority vote requirement for tax increases are once again trying to have the voter-approved requirement declared unconstitutional. In response to this latest legal challenge the Association of Washington Business (AWB) has filed a legal brief defending the law. Among the points AWB makes . . . READ MORE

Friday, August 24, 2012

Initiative 1185 impact on road tolls

There has been some concern expressed that under Initiative 1185 (supermajority for tax increases), a highway or bridge toll increase would be subject to the same two-thirds vote requirement as tax increases. Nothing in the text of the measure supports this interpretation, however. Initiative 1185 does not change the relationship between fee and tax increases in current law. Lt. Governor Brad Owen, as President of the Senate, has already issued parliamentary rulings that road tolls are fees and not subject to the two-thirds vote requirement.The Office of Financial Management (OFM) also defines tolls as fees, not taxes . . . READ MORE

Private Operation Could Help Keep Washington’s State Parks Moving Toward Self-Sufficiency

Thanks to a budget proviso directing the Washington State Parks Commission to develop a report showing how the agency plans "to make the parks system self-supporting," the future of state parks has taken center stage in recent weeks. One of the many interesting details in the State Parks Commission's report was this section . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tax restrictions across the country

Initiative 1185 will provide Washingtonians this November the opportunity to vote for the fifth time in support of the requirement for tax increases to receive a supermajority vote in the Legislature. Including Washington, 18 states currently have some form of restriction on legislative tax increases. I recently contacted the budget office for every state to find out if there were any restrictions on tax increases. The following information was self-reported by the states . . . READ MORE

Voting on a shorter ballot

If you're one of those who likes to wait till the last possible moment to place your ballot in the mail your time is running out. Ballots need to be postmarked by 8 p.m. tonight. Once the "polls" close, we can begin the long wait for results to trickle in over the coming weeks. According to the National Association of Secretaries of State, however, the vast majority of states require mail-in ballots to actually be received by Election Day . . . READ MORE

Monday, August 6, 2012

OFM releases 4-year budget outlook

Judging from the initial budget numbers being projected for 2013-15, the first legislative session for the next Governor will look a lot like the past few legislative sessions: focused on realigning state spending within forecasted revenue. According to numbers released today by the Office of Financial Management (OFM), budget writers are anticipating $1.5 billion more in revenue to help write the 2013-15 budget. This expected revenue increase is based on the state's June Revenue forecast which was adopted with the caution that there is a 40% chance that this increase could be wiped-out depending on economic developments in Europe and actions (or lack thereof) in Congress . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Official descriptions for non-binding tax advisory votes

The Attorney General's Office has submitted the short descriptions for the two non-binding advisory votes that will appear on the November ballot as required by Initiative 960 for tax increases not first submitted to the voters for approval. Here are the short descriptions . . . READ MORE