Monday, April 4, 2016

Charter schools now law - Cinderella edition

For this Cinderella story, the clock striking midnight was a good thing. With a tick of the clock to midnight on Sunday, Washington joined 42 other states with charter schools. Though we would have preferred to see Governor Inslee sign the bill (and provide those students that testified and rallied at legislature a bill ceremony) we are excited he allowed the bill to become law . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

No new taxes supplemental budget adopted

At long last the legislature has approved a 2016 supplemental budget. Didn't have time to read the budget's 352 pages before the vote? Don't feel bad, neither did most lawmakers . . . READ MORE

Fate of performance audits now rests on Governor's veto pen

Now that lawmakers have adopted the 2016 supplemental budget and taken 74% of the voter-approved dedicated performance audit funding away from the State Auditor's Office, all eyes turn to the Governor and his veto pen. When the budget details were first posted yesterday it looked like the calls to not raid the performance audit funds had been heard. All three budgets (Governor, House & Senate) had originally proposed a $10 million transfer of the performance audit funds . . . READ MORE

Monday, March 28, 2016

Historic votes as Senate overrides Governor's mass vetoes

With the same warp speed the Governor used to veto 27 bills on March 10, the Senate today started to override each of those vetoes. As of now 15 override votes have been taken with more planned for tonight. Here are some of the tweets from today's historic veto override votes . . . READ MORE

Monday, March 21, 2016

All Quiet on the Western Front - Budget Edition

With the House and Senate adjourned until the 13th day of the special session (March 22), things are all quiet on the Western Front, too quiet.  As we wait for word of a supplemental budget armistice, let's take a moment to reflect on the battle lines that put us into a special session to adopt a supplemental budget . . . READ MORE

Congress approves Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act

Exciting news to share - last week Congress approved and sent to President Obama the bi-partisan Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016. The bill was co-sponsored by Washington’s Sen. Patty Murray and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. After receiving a request to comment on the proposal from Sen. Murray’s office in 2014, Washington Policy Center President Dann Mead Smith met with Congressional Senate and House budget committee staff on Capitol Hill to discuss this effort and offer WPC assistance to help move this important reform forward. We are very excited to see Congress finally send it to President Obama . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Public budget details - what, you think this is Sunshine Week?

Like most Washingtonians on day six of the special session, I'm still trying to get caught up on what happened last week when the Legislature adjourned without finishing the supplemental budget. One of the more curious complaints I heard about the new Senate budget proposal is that the details were made publicly available instead of first exchanged in secret behind closed doors as usually happens in Olympia . . . READ MORE

Monday, March 7, 2016

No supplemental budget isn't good but won't result in government shutdown

Today Governor Inslee held a press conference where he issued a blanket veto request for every bill currently on his desk and anything lawmakers send him until a supplemental budget is adopted. Under Article 3, Section 12 of the state's constitution, all bills sent to the Governor become law after a set amount of days unless they are vetoed . . . READ MORE

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Do good end results on bills justify bad process?

With the deadline to save charter schools just a week away, several "title only" bills have been introduced to serve as a "vehicle" in case a last minute deal can be reached by lawmakers. Amazingly, one of those "title only" bills, SB 6670 was actually adopted by a committee today without changes and sent to the Rules Committee as a blank bill. This means the blank bill could potentially be pulled directly to the floor if a deal is reached and voted on without any public comment on the actual details . . . READ MORE

Thursday, February 25, 2016

With two weeks to go budget debate set

An on-time finish to the 2016 Legislative Session is just two weeks away - at least we hope it is. The vastly different approaches taken by the House and Senate in their supplemental budgets, however, does cause concern whether March 10 will be the final end date. The Senate plan takes a more traditional approach for a supplemental budget focusing on tweaks to the base 2015-17 budget while House budget writers believe now is the time to make major changes . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Senate considers 3/5 for taxes amendment

The Senate Ways & Means Committee held a public hearing yesterday on SJR 8215 (3/5 for taxes or voter approval). Prime sponsor Sen. Braun said he was trying to respond to some of the concerns raised against SJR 8211 (2/3 for taxes) when it was voted on earlier this year and offer a more focused approach while still acknowledging the voters' ongoing support for supermajority for taxes protection . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lawmakers target 74% of dedicated performance audit funds

Ignoring a prior warning from Acting State Auditor Jan Jutte that additional raids of the dedicated I-900 performance audit funds would imperil important work, the House budget released this week transfers an additional $10 million. This means nearly 74% of the available funds would have been swept from the purposes intended by taxpayers . . . READ MORE

Friday, February 19, 2016

New tax protection amendment proposed in Senate

Having failed to receive the votes needed to send voters SJR 8211 to implement the six time voter-approved supermajority for taxes requirement, a new proposal has been introduced in the Senate. This new proposal, though different from the policy previously approved by the voters repeatedly since 1993, is a smart compromise that provides the added protection against tax increases that the people have consistently demanded while providing the flexibility for the legislature to quickly respond to an emergency to protect life or public safety . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Treasurer warns lawmakers not to raid rainy day reserve

The State Treasurer's Office (STO) testified last week on HB 2968 (Using rainy day funds for K-12 classes) and warned lawmakers not to use the state's constitutionally protected reserve account for this purpose (STO testimony at 13:40). According to the bill report for HB 2968 . . . READ MORE

Friday, February 12, 2016

No Valentine for voters; 2/3 for taxes fails

No one likes to go through a breakup but it stings even more when it happens around Valentine's Day. Despite voters sending lawmakers six separate love letters asking that their elected officials feel the love for the will of the people, some in the Senate today decided to continue to ignore the clear message from their constituents by not adopting SJR 8211: Amending the Constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature to raise taxes. The vote failed 26-23 (needed at least 33 votes) . . . READ MORE

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Lawmakers consider legislative fiscal office

The House and Senate are currently considering bills (HB 2830 and SB 5915) that would utilize a dynamic fiscal note process as well as study the creation of an independent legislative fiscal office. Both of these proposals are worth pursuing . . . READ MORE

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Public must receive meaningful notice of rule making

Two little known state boards have come under fire recently for lack of meaningful public notice for their ruling making. The Human Rights Commission has agreed there was a lack of adequate public participation in its recent "bathroom" rule while the State Building Code Council has acknowledge violations of the state's Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). Both these examples illustrate the need for more education of government entities, both large and small, on the people's right to know and be involved in the decisions that affect their lives . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Graduated income tax amendment proposed

No legislative session would be complete without a proposed constitutional amendment to impose a graduated income tax in Washington. Today SJR 8214 was introduced to amend "the Constitution to allow an income tax." Judging from the response of voters since 1934 to income tax proposals, SJR 8214 may not get that far . . . READ MORE

Friday, January 22, 2016

State's public unions are right on supermajority protections

With the dust still clearing from yesterday's court ruling on I-1366 and Senate hearing on SJR 8211, it is a good time to reflect on examples from across the country when it comes to supermajority protections. In fact, a couple of good examples can be found in the constitutions of several of Washington's public employee unions . . . READ MORE

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Court tosses I-1366; 65% of voters want legislature to still act

"Unconstitutional!" That's the word from King County Superior Court today on voter-approved I-1366. Does this mean the legislature has just been handed a "get out of jail" free card to punt on this issue? Well, that depends on how much respect lawmakers have for their constituents . . . READ MORE

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Do Eastern Washington voters want to impose slavery?

Although I've only lived on the Eastside for a couple years after more than a decade in Olympia, I am happy to report that overturning Brown v Board of Education or reinstituting slavery is not on the agenda for Eastern Washingtonians. Though our cost of living may more reflect the 19th Century compared to the Westside, we do have running water, plenty of Wi-Fi for our electrical doohickeys and more PhDs per capita than anywhere else in the country . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

State employee contract transparency bill introduced

Later this year Governor Inslee will once again begin secret contract negotiations with state employee unions to determine their compensation terms for the 2017-19 budget. Once this deal is reached behind closed doors the legislature will only have the option to approve or reject the agreement in its entirety - no amendments are allowed. Under a bill introduced today, however, these binding state employee contract negotiations would no longer be conducted in secret . . . READ MORE

Monday, January 11, 2016

Attorney General defends Initiative 1366

Today is the first day of the 2016 Legislative Session. One of the issues facing lawmakers is how to respond to the people's approval of Initiative 1366 last November. Opponents of the measure have filed a lawsuit asking the courts to declare the proposal unconstitutional. That case will be heard January 19 in King County Superior Court. Last Friday the Attorney General filed arguments defending Initiative 1366 . . . READ MORE

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Poll: Lawmakers should act on supermajority for taxes amendment

According to a new statewide poll, a supermajority of voters want lawmakers to act on a constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority for tax increases. The poll, commissioned by the Washington Policy Center, ran December 28-30 and was conducted by Elway Research, INC . . . READ MORE

Monday, January 4, 2016

69% of state's legislative districts approved I-1366

According to a breakdown by the Secretary of State's Office, voters in 69% of Washington's legislative districts (34 of 49) approved I-1366 (supermajority for taxes). This is significant since it takes support from lawmakers in at least 33 legislative districts to refer to voters a constitutional amendment. Assuming lawmakers reflect the preference of their constituents, there should be enough support to finally end the decades old debate about whether to require a supermajority vote to raise taxes with a constitutional amendment . . . READ MORE