Topic: state budget
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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 12, 2013 at 1:57 PM
UPDATE 5:00 P.M. | Adds information on memo from governor
The prospect of a government shutdown has spurred many state agencies to start building a case for why they should remain open — including state treasurer’s office.
This may be more important than you think, considering the treasurer’s office writes all the checks for the state. It also gets its operating funds from the state budget, which will expire on June 30 unless the Legislature passes a new one.
“We are absolutely certain that we are absolutely essential to keeping money moving. That we are absolutely essential to making payments on the obligations created,” Assistant State Treasurer Wolfgang Opitz said.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean the courts would agree. “We are doing a lot of research,” Opitz said.
Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has scheduled a cabinet meeting for Wednesday afternoon to discuss possible options if there is a shutdown. State Attorney Gen. Bob Ferguson also has convened a legal team to meet with state agencies.
Inslee also sent a letter on Wednesday to agency directors, higher education, boards and commissions, and statewide elected officials asking them to report back by June 17 with information about services that don’t require money from the state operating budget, among other things.
In addition, the governor asked agencies to identify services necessary “for the immediate response to issues of public safety, or to avoid catastrophic loss of state property.”
Budget negotiations have been stalled for weeks, with both parties blaming each other for the lack of progress.
Marty Brown, former Gov. Gary Locke’s budget director, noted the state was in a similar situation back in 2001 when the state house had a 49-49 tie between the parties.
Locke went so far as to draft an executive order that spelled out which state services should continue in the event of a shutdown. The order would have continued operating state prisons, public assistance including Medicaid,and the Washington State Patrol, as well as furlough what were deemed nonessential state workers. However, Brown said he wasn’t sure it would have withstood legal challenge.
One thing seems certain: If there is a government shutdown there will be legal challenges from those who oppose spending money without a budget, and those who want to keep state services running.
Brown said this raises an interesting question, considering the court system runs on money from the state operating budget. “Technically, the question is how do you go to court? They should be closed too,” he said.
While Washington has apparently never had a government shutdown, it came awfully close back in 1951 when the legislature approved a budget containing the corporate franchise tax. There was a legal challenge and the state Supreme Court threw out the budget along with the tax. (See page 148 of this document)
The state was without a budget for several days until the Legislature could pass a new one. Opitz noted it wasn’t as critical back then because all the bills were paid with paper warrants.
“The time scale’s different. Ten days was about as long as you could go before people had spasms over not receiving things. Ten minutes is about as long as you can go now,” he said.
When asked if a government shutdown could have implications for the state’s bond rating, Opitz said, “Oh yes, none of it good.”
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 23, 2013 at 12:19 PM
House Democrats today dropped a proposal to permanently extend a beer tax that’s due to expire this summer.
They also killed proposals to eliminate a tax break for stevedoring, impose a sale tax on janitorial services and eliminate a tax exemption for insurance agents. Combined, the proposals would have raised around $165 million in additional tax revenue.
The beer tax, worth nearly $60 million over the next two years, was the biggest proposal eliminated as Legislators work their way through budget negotiations in the final week of the regular session.
The proposal would have extended the current tax on beer, but reduce it from 50 cents to 25 cents per gallon for mass market beer and charge microbreweries a rate of 15 cents per gallon.
House Finance Committee Chairman Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, said it was dropped because the beer lobby proved particularly effective in swaying legislators. “Just the viability of the large commercial scale beer companies to fund an initiative” to challenge the tax, he said, adding that “$10 million to them is a walk in the park.”
Dropping the beer tax and others proposals should help ease passage of a tax package through the House, Carlyle said. Although the GOP-led majority in the Senate has argued no new tax revenue is needed.
With the reductions, Democrats are proposing $899 million in new revenue. The taxes were passed out of the Finance Committee on Tuesday.
Roughly $365 million would coming from the repeal or reduction of tax breaks. The rest would be generated by a proposal to permanently extend a 0.3 percentage point increase in the business-and-occupation tax rate paid by doctors, lawyers, accountants and others. The tax rate would increase from 1.5 percent to 1.8 percent of gross revenue, under the proposal.
April 22, 2013 at 4:30 PM
After years of talk, Congress is moving toward possibly ending a loophole that has prevented states from collecting sales taxes on many Internet purchases.
The U.S. Senate could vote this week to approve the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would end the longstanding tax advantage enjoyed by Internet retailers like Amazon.com over their brick-and-mortar competitors.
The proposal, which passed a test vote Monday in the Senate, would require companies with sales of more than $1 million to begin collecting sales and local taxes for purchases over the Internet.
That could mean a big windfall for the Washington state treasury – bringing in an additional $184 million for the 2013-15 budget, according to an estimate by the state Department of Revenue. That would rise to more than $567 million in 2015-17 as compliance ramps up, the state predicts. Cities and counties would also get a share – more than $278 million by 2015-17.
But lawmakers currently haggling over the state budget are not expecting that money to bail them out — at least in the short term.
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.
January 17, 2013 at 1:35 PM
Gov. Jay Inslee, during his first news conference as governor, said he’s open to extending temporary taxes due to expire next year as a way to pay for education or help balance the state budget.
Inslee while campaigning for governor vowed not to increase taxes if elected. On Thursday, he said that extending a business and occupation tax and a beer tax would not break his promise.
“I do not believe we would be increasing taxes if we extend the existing tax rates in that regard,” he told reporters. “The reason I believe that is it’s true.
“We would not be increasing taxes for consumers in that regard. That’s something that as an economics major at the University of Washington is pretty clear to me and I think people will come to understand that over time.”
Inslee stressed he’s not advocating for the taxes to be extended, but wants to leave it on the table for lawmakers to consider.
Gov. Chris Gregoire in her final budget released in December advocated extending a 0.3 percent increase to the business and occupation tax paid by doctors, lawyers, accountants and others and a 50-cent-per-gallon tax on beer. The taxes are due to expire next summer.
Gregoire proposed extending both taxes by three and a half years. Keeping in place certain exemptions, the tax extensions would yield $636 million 2013–15 and $565 million in 2015–17.
September 28, 2012 at 10:54 AM
In The Seattle Times editorial board meeting Wednesday, 1st District Congressional candidate John Koster, a Republican, said he voted against five of six state budgets as a lawmaker in the second half of the 1990s because he hadn’t had a chance to read them. Koster’s explanation is important as he seeks to make himself a palatable candidate for moderates in the 1st District, which runs from Redmond to the Canadian border.
His opponent, Suzan DelBene, has called him extreme. Koster is working his way toward the middle, scoffing at the term Tea Party and saying that, though he is conservative, he would be willing to work across the aisle to get things done in Congress.
In the taped interview at The Seattle Times, Koster said:
“My opponent is kind of taking me to task a little bit, because when I was down in the state Legislature, I didn’t vote for five out of six budgets. And there’s a good reason for that. I won’t vote for legislation I haven’t read. The way it works in the Legislature, we’re supposed to have that budget on our desk in time for us to read that. That didn’t happen most of those times … if I don’t have time to read it, I won’t vote for it.”
But a fundraising letter Koster sent out during the Congressional primary in 2000 offers a different explanation. On the second page of that three-page letter, Koster wrote:
“My opponent is a nice fellow, but the truth is, he votes like a liberal — and his voting record from his days in Olympia tell the story. On fiscal issues and cutting the size of government we differ. While I was voting NO on budgets that expanded government, my opponent was consistently voting YES. In fact, his YES votes on budgets that I voted NO on expanded state government by $3.5 billion in only four years!
Koster clarified in a Friday interview that “there were two reasons.” One was that he hadn’t had a chance to read the budgets, and “one is we were elected to reduce the size and scope of government, and that means reducing spending,” he said. Five of six budgets didn’t do that, so he voted against them.
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