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