June 24, 2013 at 2:02 PM
The governor’s office on Monday directed state agencies to begin notifying state workers of potential layoffs if there’s no budget deal by the end of the month.
Gov. Jay Inslee sent out a personal note to state employees saying, “I know today will be difficult for many of you. Temporary layoff notices will begin being distributed this afternoon as required by law, and I know those notices will generate a high level of anxiety, uncertainty and frustration … I’m doing everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen – and if legislators send me an agreed-upon budget, it won’t.”
In addition, his budget office directed state agencies to immediately begin sending out notices to workers saying that “as of this afternoon, the Legislature has not yet reached agreement on the 2013–15 operating and capital budgets. Therefore, effective immediately, agencies should begin sending out notices required to inform affected employees of a potential temporary layoff. Layoffs will be necessary if a budget is not adopted by midnight on June 30, 2013.”
The notices were expected to go out to around 26,000 general state government employees over the next several days if there’s no budget deal. Higher education, public schools and statewide elected officials — such as the attorney general and secretary of state — are responsible for their own notifications.
Templates were provided to agencies as well, including this one:
This is official notification that unless there is an approved 2013-15 operating budget, or in some instances a capital budget, beginning July 1, 2013, you will be temporarily laid off from your exempt position. The duration of this temporary layoff is unknown.
• You are directed not to perform any work duties while temporarily laid off.
• If you are scheduled to be on any form of approved paid leave during the temporary layoff, your leave approval is rescinded.
• Time spent on temporary layoff is not considered time in pay status for the purpose of holiday compensation.
• Time spent on temporary layoff is not considered time in pay status for the purpose of vacation and sick leave accruals.
Once the state has an approved a 2013-15 budget that funds your position, it is expected you will return to work on your next scheduled work day. The state has set up a website and toll free number to let all employees know when state employees should return to work.
Negotiators indicated Monday that they were very close to a deal, but they’ve been saying that for several days now.
June 20, 2013 at 10:07 AM
Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget office released a memo this morning detailing potential impacts if there is a government shutdown.
The Legislature has to pass a budget by the end of the month in order to avoid a shutdown, and there has been progress between Republicans and Democrats in recent days toward a deal.
Some examples of what could happen, pulled from the report:
- Suspension of state-subsidized child care for mothers moving from public assistance to the workforce.
- Suspension of Fish and Wildlife enforcement activities, hatcheries operations and certain sport and commercial fisheries.
- Suspension of non-emergency investigations of health profession misconduct; HIV client services; Women Infants and Children food and nutrition; inspections of shellfish operations, X-ray equipment, health-care facilities or other operations regulated by agency.
- Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs continue at least for the time being. Suspension of state-only programs such as medical services for aged, blind and disabled, kidney disease/dialysis program, and children’s health care program for undocumented children.
- Closure of state parks and cancellation of current camping/cabin reservations and scheduled special events.
You can read the full report here. More information will be available after a news conference in the governor’s office later this morning.
June 13, 2013 at 9:43 AM
UPDATE 1:15 P.M. | Adds information on House vote
House and Senate negotiators have reached tentative agreement on how the state could get around a 2012 state Supreme Court ruling that allows certain married couples to escape Washington’s estate tax.
The legislation would create a new tax break for small businesses, while increasing the tax rate for wealthier estates.
House Democrats, with the help of two Republicans, passed House Bill 2075 on Thursday by a vote of 53 to 33. But the Republican-led majority in the Senate has not said yet if it will pass the legislation.
Lawmakers are under pressure to act quickly because the state Department of Revenue plans to issue $12 million in refund checks by Friday if the Legislature doesn’t take action, with millions more in refunds in the following weeks. That would increase an already hefty budget shortfall that legislators would have to fill through other means.
DOR had been holding off on the refunds in case the Legislature passed a law that lets the state keep the taxes. The agency said it was “giving deference to the legislative process.”
But those delays were challenged and several lower court rulings have ordered the state to begin issuing refunds. Agency officials have said they can no longer wait.
The estate-tax case deals with something called a Qualified Terminable Interest Property trust. It allows a spouse to transfer assets tax free to a surviving spouse and then onto other heirs upon the death of the surviving spouse.
Under federal law, the value of the trust was taxed only when the surviving spouse died. That also was the case in Washington until the state Supreme Court “Bracken” decision.
As a result of the court decision, the estate also cannot be taxed when the surviving spouse dies under this kind of trust, according to the Department of Revenue.
The proposed legislation would ensure that married couples would still pay an estate tax, said Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, chairman of the House Finance Committee.
“It’s not a comprehensive policy and political deal across the board. We just tried to reach agreement on Bracken and we’ve done that,” Carlyle said.
The current tax applies to individual estates worth more than $2 million. Taxes apply only to the portion of an estate above that amount. The assets of such estates are taxed at a graduated rate. The value of property used primarily for farming can be deducted from the taxable estate.
The key for Senate Republicans was to create a break for small businesses. In simple terms, small businesses valued at up to $4.5 million would not pay estate tax, and businesses worth up to $6 million would only pay estate tax on the $1.5 million above $4.5 million, so they would get a break too.
To make the legislation “revenue neutral,” the bill would make up for money lost through the small business tax break by increasing the tax rate on estates in the highest tax brackets by one percentage point.
Republican State Sen. John Braun, R-Centrailia, confirmed that there is a tentative agreement on the language of the bill, but that’s all.
Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom’s office also said there’s been no decision whether to pass the bill in the Senate.
Senate Republicans have been pushing for Democrats to pass legislation the GOP favors, including controversial changes to the state workers compensation system, before addressing the estate tax change or other tax legislation.
May 6, 2013 at 11:28 AM
Democratic State Rep. Reuven Carlyle released a new state analysis showing King County is a large net exporter of tax dollars to the rest of the state.
Carlyle, of Seattle, contends there’s a misconception in the Legislature and elsewhere “that tax dollars are consumed by city living, whether that’s social programs or subsidizing various services more common in the city. The cold hard reality is that the numbers are the complete opposite of that.”
For example, the analysis indicates Yakima County received $649 million in state expenditures in fiscal year 2011, but generated only $346 million in tax revenue. By comparison, King County received $3.4 billion in state general fund expenditures but generated $5.9 billion in tax revenue, according to the report prepared by the state Office of Financial Management.
Those numbers comes from a composite analysis on page 4 of the report. Carlyle has broached this topic before, but says it’s worth reminding people.
“Here we go into the final budget negotiations and there are these vociferous demands for no new taxes, closing exemptions or anything and yet some of those loudest voices are from those who represent communities who … enjoy a level of spending that they value greatly,” said Carlyle who chairs the House Finance Committee.
The Legislature will go into special session on May 13 to tackle the state budget, among other issues. The key question lawmakers are fighting over is whether to raise additional tax revenue by closing tax breaks or extending existing taxes due to expire this summer.
House and Senate Republicans have argued against any additional tax revenue. The GOP controls the state Senate. Democrats control the House and governor’s office.
Carlyle says that not only have Republicans opposed raising new tax revenue statewide, they’re also arguing against allowing King County to increase taxes locally.
GOP state Rep. Gary Alexander, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee said there’s a hole in Carlyle’s argument, namely that “in terms of the ability of individuals to pay increased taxes the more rural districts are the ones which have the highest unemployment rate … so the imposition of more taxes on … marginal income levels is what I consider to be the more difficult situation.”
Alexander said he understands Carlyle’s point about local option taxes, but voters still view allowing local option taxes as a tax increase, adding “many times we’ve authorized those taxes and they never have done it.”
April 24, 2013 at 3:03 PM
Barring a breakthrough in negotiations, the Legislature appears headed toward a special session to wrap up a state operating budget and possibly other bills.
The GOP-led majority in the Senate maintains it’s possible to finish up by the last day of the 105-day regular session on Sunday. But Democratic budget writers and the governor’s office are either saying more time is needed, or strongly hinting at it.
“I think we’d have to draw to an inside straight to get this done by Sunday night,” Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee said at a news conference on Wednesday.
House Appropriations Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, and House Finance Committee Chairman Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, have both said there’s not enough time logistically to get everything done.
At this point there’s a $900 million gulf between the Democratic House budget and the Senate’s spending plan. That’s the amount of tax revenue in the House budget, which would come from a combination of closing tax breaks and extending a business and occupation tax due to expire this summer.
Senate Republicans say the votes don’t exist in the Senate to close tax breaks or extend the B&O tax. Democrats say there’s no way to adequately fund state services and put more money into education without the revenue. Neither side seems inclined to budge.
On top of all that are several stalled measures that have little or nothing to do with the operating budget, including a proposed $8.4 billion transportation tax package.
Inslee also said he wants the Legislature to approve several controversial measures dealing with drunken driving, gun control, abortion and higher education financial aid for students who are not legal residents.
“I believe it’s my responsibility to do everything humanly possible to get action all of these fronts this year,” Inslee said.
The governor repeatedly said “this year” when talking about the time frame to accomplish all of that.
April 15, 2013 at 5:27 PM
A new Stuart Elway poll found that a slight majority of voters surveyed, 51 percent, don’t consider eliminating tax breaks to be a “tax increase.”
However, 56 percent of the people polled felt that continuing an existing tax due to expire is the same thing as a tax increase.
Both Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and House Democrats have proposed a combination of extending existing taxes and closing tax breaks to put more than $1 billion into education to meet a state Supreme Court mandate.
Elway , in his report, said that “A plausible explanation for these distinctions is that the question about closing tax breaks specifically mentioned industry tax breaks, whereas the question about extending temporary taxes did not specify who was paying the tax.”
The poll surveyed 409 registered voters earlier this month and has margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.
April 10, 2013 at 12:15 PM
House Democrats set the high bar for state spending in a proposed budget released Wednesday that would raise roughly $1.3 billion in additional tax revenue and plow the same amount into K-12 education to comply with a state Supreme Court mandate.
Overall, the House proposal would spend about $34.5 billion. By comparison, Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed a $34.4 billion spending plan and Senate Republicans, $33.3 billion. The GOP budget is the only one that does not include additional money from taxes.
The House Democrats’ proposal is similar to Inslee’s in the mix of tax breaks it would close, including repealing tax exemptions for bottled water and the sales tax exemption for people living outside the state.
April 3, 2013 at 7:47 AM
Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray says the budget being released today by the GOP-led majority has input from Democrats, but he does not consider it bipartisan.
The majority caucus is expected to release its spending proposal at noon on Wednesday. Republicans have said they will meet state Supreme Court demands for more education funding and close a budget shortfall projected at more than $1 billion without increasing any taxes.
When announcing their plans on Tuesday night, Republicans called it a “bipartisan Senate operating budget proposal.”
The Republican budget has a “Democratic imprint,” Murray said in a short message. He noted that Senate Ways and Means Chairman Andy Hill, R-Redmond, worked closely with Democratic Sens. Jim Hargrove, of Hoquiam, and Sharon Nelson, of Maury Island, to craft a budget.
“But the budget is not bi-partisan yet,” he said. Murray did not elaborate.
Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee released his budget priorities last week. The governor proposed $1.2 billion in additional tax revenue to be raised through closing tax breaks and extending existing taxes. He wants to put all that money into education.
House Democrats are expected to come out with their budget next week. Then all three sides will try to hash out a compromise.
March 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Gov. Jay Inslee will get the first word on the state budget. He’s scheduled an 11 a.m. news conference on Thursday to unveil his budget priorities.
The GOP-led majority caucus in the Senate has not set a date yet for releasing its budget. House Democrats are expected to release their proposal after the Senate.
Inslee has said in the past that he will not release a full budget, but will address his take on how to close the budget shortfall projected at up to $1.3 billion and pump more money into education as required by the state Supreme Court.
The governor also has indicated he plans to propose closing tax breaks as a way to raise additional revenue.
March 21, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Cut spending? Increase taxes? Some of each? Here’s your chance to take a swing at balancing the state budget.
We’ve created an interactive budget game that lets you pick from dozens of potential budget cuts and tax increases to balance the budget and find more money for education.
The next two-year state budget faces up to a $1.3 billion shortfall. On top of that, the Washington Supreme Court says lawmakers need to beef up K-12 schools spending to meet the constitutional obligation to educate all children.
So step into the lawmakers’ shoes, and then use the polls below to let us know how you did.
About this blog
Trending with readers