Friday, June 28, 2013

Environmental Effectiveness in the Proposed Budget

There are some promising signs that legislators are beginning to demand environmental effectiveness when funding projects designed to protect Washington's natural resources. In addition to the clause in the Governor's climate bill requiring projects to be prioritized based on carbon reductions per dollar spent, there is budget language requiring a similar approach in other environmental arenas . . . READ MORE

2013-15 Budget: From 'light years apart' to light speed legislative action

By the time you read this the Legislature will have likely already approved the 482 page 2013-15 operating budget first publicly released around 12:56 a.m. this morning. Don't feel bad if you haven't had a chance to read it; you're in good company. It's doubtful many lawmakers have either. The disappointingly opaque process aside, here as some of the tidbits I've been able to pull from the budget thus far . . . READ MORE

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Budget announcement in tweets

As you can see from the below tweets of reporters, the just concluded press conference with Governor Inslee and budget writers announcing the details of the 2013-15 budget agreement leaves lots to the imagination of what exactly lawmakers are being asked to vote on and have on the Governor's desk by 5 p.m. tomorrow (of course they'll read it first) . . . READ MORE

Recommendations on a Transportation Tax Package

Late in a second special legislative session, House and Senate leaders are pushing different transportation tax proposals. People in Washington have continually voiced opposition to tax increases in the past, and officials should focus on the needs of the public when proposing another. WPC has compiled five policy recommendations that lawmakers should include in any legislation that is funded by a tax increase, to ensure any new transportation bill improves mobility and serves the public interest . . . READ MORE

I-517: Are new harassment protections needed for signature gatherers?

One of the major focuses of Initiative 517 is to provide harassment protection for signature gatherers. The Yes on I-517 campaign has posted a 1995 letter by then Secretary of State Ralph Munro that says (in-part) . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

You know what's in the pending 2013-15 budget, right?

With a 2013-15 budget deal "imminent" one of the remaining questions left to be answered is whether lawmakers and the public will be provided adequate time to review the details before a vote on final passage occurs. We believe at a minimum the time provided for budget transparency should be at least 24 hrs. Based on his comments during yesterday's press conference, however, Governor Inslee seems to believe the public already knows what's going to be in the final $33 billion plus budget running hundreds of pages long . . . READ MORE

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Heavy hitters line up against I-517

One of the ballot measures voters will decide this year is I-517: Concerning initiative and referendum measures. The proposal is an initiative to the Legislature but lawmakers did not approve it meaning it will be placed before voters to pass final judgement. According to the ballot title for I-517 . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

State revenue up another $231 million - $2 billion more for 2013-15

Good news for state budget writers - today's revenue forecast has further increased projected revenue for the current and next budget by a combined $231 million for a total increase of more than $2 billion for 2013-15. From today's Revenue Forecast . . . READ MORE

Monday, June 17, 2013

State may want to keep those death tax refunds on hand

Lawmakers may have thought they dodged a bullet last week when passing a retroactive death tax "fix" to a state Supreme Court ruling which would have required refunds but with additional litigation pending due to the retroactive nature of the tax increase the state may still end up paying those court ordered refunds. Here is the Washington State Bar Association's testimony about such retroactive tax increases likely being unconstitutional. While saying we don't want to be like the other Washington (D.C.), policy makers appear to have taken a page out of the Congressional playbook by utilizing retroactive tax policy. But even for Congress (which is no stranger to retroactive taxes) making retroactive tax changes apply longer than during the current fiscal year is tempting fate . . . READ MORE

Friday, June 14, 2013

While you were sleeping - Senate passes/Inslee signs retroactive death tax increase

Beating a Friday morning deadline to keep the Department of Revenue from issuing court ordered refunds, the Legislature yesterday approved HB 2075 - a retroactive change to the state's death tax. The new law undoes a unanimous State Supreme Court ruling which required death tax refunds to certain estates. The House approved HB 2075 early Thursday with the Senate voting late last night and the Governor immediately signing the bill into law utilizing an emergency clause. Though responding prospectively to the Court ruling was never in doubt, it is a bit shocking to see the Legislature make retroactive changes to the state's tax law . . . READ MORE

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tax increases for compensation enhancements?

Though various reform bills proposed by the Senate have been pointed to by state Democrats and Governor Inslee as holding up a budget deal, the real sticking point continues to be whether to increase taxes despite the fact state revenues are currently projected to increase by $2 billion for the 2013-15 biennium (and may increase more at next week's Revenue Forecast). The Majority Coalition Caucus in the Senate has gone on record saying they'd agree to some tax increase if the House acts on the reform bills but it is likely Senators would readily agree to a no-new-taxes budget even without the reforms . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Olympia's Retroactive Tax "Twilight Zone"

Today is the last day of the 1st Special Session for lawmakers to finish work on the 2013-15 budget. So where do we stand? Here are the thoughts of House Majority Leader Rep. Sullivan (D) as quoted in The Olympian: “We are still pretty far apart,” Sullivan said, noting that Gov. Jay Inslee had said last month that the chambers were light years apart. “I would say we are still somewhere out in space.’’ With budget negotiations apparently "Lost in Space" and a 2nd Special Session around the corner, another strange phenomenon is manifesting in Olympia - "The Twilight Zone" of retroactive tax policy . . . READ MORE