Topic: Washington Legislature
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November 8, 2013 at 11:20 AM
OLYMPIA — The House Finance Committee approved a proposal Friday to extend tax breaks for Boeing and other aerospace industries.
House Bill 2089 goes to House Appropriations next and then, presumably, the House floor. The Senate is expected to take up companion legislation Friday as well.
Boeing has asked for the extension, paired with other incentives, in return for keeping the 777X in Washington. It also has said the Machinist union must accept a new eight-year contract with big cuts in future pension and health-care benefits in exchange for securing the 777X work.
Lawmakers this morning were clearly taken aback by news that the union could reject the offer.
A story in The Seattle Times today noted that District 751 President Tom Wroblewski tore up a copy of Boeing’s contract proposal and said he would try to have it withdrawn. “I know this is a piece of crap,” Wroblewski said.
It’s not clear how the union turmoil could affect the debate in Olympia.
July 24, 2013 at 6:34 PM
An initiative to the Legislature was filed Wednesday that would apparently name the infamous Skagit River bridge — that collapsed on Interstate 5 in May – after Tim Eyman.
The measure reads: “That portion of state route number 5 from the junction with state route number 538 in Mount Vernon, thence northerly to the junction with state route 20 in Burlington is designated “the Tim Eyman Memorial Bridge”, dedicated to the efforts of Tim Eyman to reduce Washington State tax revenues and the collapse of the Skagit River Bridge on May 23, 2013.”
The initiative was filed by Nicholas Santos of Bothell. He could not be immediately reached for comment. Eyman is an anti-tax advocate who has filed many initiatives over the years aimed at reducing or controlling the growth of taxes.
Part of the Skagit River bridge collapsed May 23 when a oversize truck struck the north end of the bridge, causing one section to crumble. It has since been reopened with a temporary repair.
Initiatives to the Legislature require 246,372 signatures of registered Washington voters by Jan. 3. Measures that qualify are sent to the Legislature, where lawmakers can enact them, or let them go to the ballot in 2014. Or the Legislature could place the measure and an alternative on the ballot.
June 28, 2013 at 3:42 PM
By Staff Reporter Colin Campbell
The parking lot of the Bellevue Burgermaster was filled Friday morning with people hungry, not for burgers, but for state transportation funding.
A coalition of local elected officials and businesspeople gathered at the fast food joint near I-520 to again urge the state Senate to pass a $10 billion transportation tax package that would fund local roads, bridges and transit services.
After a drawn-out process, state legislators Thursday reached a tentative $33.6 billion two-year budget to avert a government shutdown. One likely point of argument in the transportation bill will be the inclusion of a light rail in the Columbia River crossing. Senate Republicans oppose funding the light-rail line, which they say is a waste of potential road space.
The theme of the Friday news conference — “moving ahead together” — was clear, and the handful of speakers who took the podium didn’t miss the opportunity to directly compare the state economy to a road, requiring investing and upkeep.
King County Executive Dow Constantine, thanked the Democrat-controlled state House of Representatives for approving the package, which includes a 10-cent gas tax increase, a $20 vehicle fee increase and a 1.5 percent MVET renewal fee. He called on the Senate, which has a Republican majority, to do the same, asking them to “join us and get on the bus and pave the way to prosperity.”
Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis cited his credentials as a fiscal conservative and said the bill isn’t so much about spending money as it is about investing it. He said the coalition of groups was encouraging and sending a clear message.
“It is good fiscal sense,” Lewis said. “We need to have the partnership we see here before us. I’ve talked to labor; I’ve talked to businesses; I’ve talked to the cities. Cities from the east side to the west. The farmers in Yakima need this to happen just as much as the people in downtown Seattle.”
“We call on that one more step of bold leadership from our senators to represent us and to move our state forward,” he added.
Bob Donegan, president and CEO of Ivar’s restaurants, put the need in more concrete terms. He said one of his truck drivers used to be able to make three trips to and from the company’s Mukilteo facility in Snohomish County, where its chowder is made, but because of worsening traffic, he now can only make two.
Put simply, Donegan said, “If we want chowder, we have to have a transportation bill.”
Organizers said they chose Burgermaster for the 20-minute event because the backdrop, a loud bridge construction site, perfectly illustrated the importance of transportation investment. Maud Daudon, president of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, who emcee’d the conference, thanked the various groups represented, as well as the burger restaurant for hosting it.
But one Burgermaster waitress, looking on from inside, wasn’t amused at the choice of location.
“It’s frustrating,” she said, gesturing to the group through one of the restaurant’s windows. “It’s a business, not a banquet hall.”
June 26, 2013 at 5:15 PM
A $10 billion transportation tax package failed in the state House on Wednesday when it didn’t muster the 50 votes needed for passage.
Democrats control the House with a 55-seat majority, but seven members of their caucus voted against the proposal and one was excused from voting. Only one Republican voted for it, and the measure failed 48-42.
Democrats say they had been expecting more Republican votes than they got and are likely to try again, possibly by Thursday. But it’s not clear where they’ll get the additional votes needed to pass the bill. Senate Republicans don’t want to vote on the package, which includes a state gas-tax increase of 10.5 cents per gallon, and they have sent that message to House Republicans.
“I’ve been in a couple of meetings with Sen. (Curtis) King. He was doubtful he would be able to pass it on that side. He had some influence on how we think about it here. We don’t want to waste our vote here and have it go over there and nothing happens,” said Rep. Terry Nealy, R-Dayton.
King, R-Yakima, is co-chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.
He’s not the only Republican senator talking to counterparts in the House. Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, said he’s also talked to House Republicans. “We were saying ‘make sure you understand what the transportation budget is doing,’” Litzow said, adding that he did not ask them to vote no.
Under the proposal, the gas tax would increase 6 cents per gallon this year and an additional 4.5 cents per gallon next year.
In addition to the gas tax, the proposal would increase various weight and title fees, including a 15 percent boost in weight fees for freight trucks of more than 10,000 pounds. It also includes local option taxes, including a motor-vehicle excise tax of up to 1.5 percent of vehicle value in counties with more than 1 million people, if approved by voters.
The package allocates nearly $3.3 billion for major projects including work on Interstate 405, Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90, and a new Columbia River crossing on Interstate 5. Nearly $1.1 billion of it would go toward preservation and maintenance of highways and bridges.
More than $500 million would go to support public transportation, and millions more would be spent on bicycle and pedestrian paths and safe routes to schools.
April 3, 2013 at 11:58 AM
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — A bipartisan group of state senators released a transportation budget proposal Wednesday that both sides call “bare bones.”
The $8.7 billion proposal, released Wednesday, puts $4.1 billion into maintaining and improving roads, banks $200 million in projected toll revenue toward the Alaskan Way Viaduct project and puts $1.2 billion toward servicing bonding debt.
The plan doesn’t include funding for the Columbia River Crossing necessary to trigger federal matching funds and doesn’t pay for linking state Route 167 and state Route 509 to Interstate 5.
Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, and Sen. Curtis King, R- of Yakima are the co-chairs of the Senate Transportation Committee. King and Eide agreed that more money could be put into transportation this year, though King said any new taxes should have the support of voters.
March 29, 2013 at 1:05 PM
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — A key Washington state lawmaker says state funds are too scarce to extend college aid to illegal immigrants. The statements by Republican Sen. Barbara Bailey dim the prospects of the measure supporters call the Washington Dream Act.
Writing Friday in Washington Focus, Bailey said the state makes too many promises it can’t afford to keep. Bailey is chairwoman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, which held a hearing on the measure Thursday. Also on the committee is Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom of Medina. Tom, a Democrat, supports the measure, giving it a likely majority on the committee. But he said that Bailey will determine if it gets a vote.
The measure passed the state House earlier this month with bipartisan support.
Bailey did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
March 25, 2013 at 1:34 PM
OLYMPIA — The state House passed legislation Monday aimed at developing ways to reduce state greenhouse-gas emissions, and meet targets set by the Legislature in 2008.
The measure already passed the Senate and now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee, who had requested the legislation. It’s the first bill requested by Inslee to clear the Legislature.
Senate Bill 5802 creates a work group that’s supposed to come up with recommendations by the end of the year.
The measure passed the House 61-32 and now goes to the governor.
Rep. Dave Upthegrove, D-Des Moines, argued in favor of the measure, saying, “Our constituents are seeing the effects of climate change in their daily lives — extreme weather, a rise in temperatures and the economic costs that result. They are hungry for leadership and solutions and I’m confident our state can lead the way.”
Rep. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, voted no, saying that climate change requires an international solution. “If Washington state decides to lead the way and is going to take steps down this path (it) would only disproportionately impact our state and our economy,” he said.
Inslee and his staff actively lobbied for the legislation and the governor testified at committee hearings in the House and Senate. The measure that passed the Senate removed language talking about problems associated with climate change.
Inslee had wanted to retain the language talking about problems associated with climate change, but in the end decided to accept its removal in order to get the bill through both chambers.
March 20, 2013 at 12:20 PM
Budget writers got a rare dose of good news Wednesday. The latest tax-revenue projections show a net plus to the state’s bottom line.
A revenue forecast released Wednesday projects the state will take in $59 million more than expected in the current fiscal year and $19 million less over the next two years. Bottom line: Budget writers have an extra $40 million to work with.
Many legislators had privately expected a significant drop in projected revenue in part because of the automatic federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, that kicked in earlier this month, and the expiration of federal payroll tax cuts.
While the situation is better than expected, the Legislature still has a big problem –- an overall budget shortfall of up to $1.3 billion and a state Supreme Court mandate to increase education funding. Estimates peg the cost of meeting the Supreme Court ruling at anywhere from an additional $500 million to $1.7 billion over the next two years.
The mid-session revenue forecast typically kicks off the serious negotiations to balance the state budget. The GOP-led majority in the Senate is expected to produce a budget proposal first, followed by the House. Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee also is expected to weigh in with a proposal, but has not set a date.
March 19, 2013 at 11:44 AM
This post was updated at 12:12 p.m.
By Mike Baker
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — A group of Washington state senators vowed Tuesday to increase funding for higher education by $300 million but declined to say how they would get the money at a time when lawmakers are already struggling to balance the budget.
Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner, who developed the plan supported by a GOP-dominated coalition, said it is possible to write a budget that balances state spending while increasing funding for state colleges and universities. He said it will be a matter of prioritizing where government dollars go.
“We’re going to make higher education a priority,” Baumgartner said.
Senate leaders declined to explain how they would pay for the proposal. Lawmakers already face more than a $1 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget cycle and are separately under court order to expand funding for K-12 education.
The senators also propose to require a 3 percent reduction in tuition for in-state students. They also say this will help manage the long-term financial concerns in the state’s prepaid tuition program.
Under the plan, $50 million of the new higher education money would be awarded to schools based on metrics, such as the number of undergraduates in degrees such as science or engineering, the retention rate of first-year students and the average time it takes to complete an undergraduate degree.
March 14, 2013 at 10:48 AM
OLYMPIA — The state’s budget shortfall grew by $300 million Thursday, primarily because the state miscalculated how much money it would save from moving certain Medicaid patients to managed care.
The hit means the budget shortfall lawmakers must close is now roughly $1.3 billion. And that’s not counting additional money the state Supreme Court says the Legislature must put into education. Many legislators are expecting more bad news when the revenue forecast comes out next week.
The biggest driver behind the increase is related to a move in the last budget approved by the Legislature to move certain people on Medicaid from a fee-for-service plan to a managed care plan, state officials said. The state significantly overestimated how much money would be saved in doing so.
The new numbers came from a Washington State Caseload Forecast Council briefing Thursday.
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