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Governor Inslee proposes capital gains tax to fill budget gap

By | December 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

 

Gov. Jay Inslee says it’s time to “buck up” and invest in the state of Washington. He’s recommending a new capital gains tax to help close a $2 billion dollar gap in the next two-year budget.

“It is time to reinvest in our state and this budget does that,” Gov. Inslee said.

The Governor released his 2015-17 budget proposal Thursday. The $39 billion plan is a combination of cuts to current programs and new revenue. The focus is on four key areas: stronger schools, healthier kids, cleaner air, and a fairer tax system.

“There is one simple fact: we cannot balance this budget and educate our children on cuts alone.”

In addition to the charge on carbon polluters unveiled earlier in the week, Gov. Inslee proposes a seven percent capital gains tax on money made from the sale of stocks and bonds above $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for joint filers. It would begin in 2016 and is estimated to raise $800 million dollars in the first biennium.

“This is a tax on fewer than one percent of Washingtonians,” the Governor explained.  “For those folks who have retirement accounts, stock in those accounts when they sell that stock, there will be zero capital gains on that.”

The Governor says Washington’s capital gains tax would be less than similar taxes in Idaho, Oregon and California.  Also exempt is money earned from the sale of homes, farms, and forestry.

“This is not intended to show any lack of respect for those who would pay under this proposal. We honor success in Washington. In fact, we treasure it, but we always have to push for fairness.” The Governor later explained why he believes a capital gains tax is a better option over a sales tax increase. “It would be unfair to working families in this tough economy, where you have such incredible income inequality, to put more tax burden on working families. I believe, in this circumstance where we’ve had such wealth creation in this state… That giving a beginning teacher, or a person who’s making $500,000 selling stocks and bonds, at this point we outta ask that wealthier person to step up to the plate.”

Among the other ideas on the list of new revenues, Gov. Inslee wants five tax breaks repealed, the state cigarette tax increased by 50 cents a pack, a new tax on e-cigarettes and vapor products, and a tax on bottled water.

Those new revenues add up to $1.4 billion dollars.

Given the size of the budget shortfall and the State Supreme Court mandate on McCleary, the Governor says statewide cuts are also needed. His budget proposal includes $211 million in General Fund spending cuts. Another $212 million was found by shifting General Fund costs to other fund sources and maximizing federal funds.

“The fact of the matter is we have made reductions of $12 billion dollars since the recession started. We have already slashed mental health way past the bone. We’re in the arteries.”  Governor Inslee said as a result the courts have held the state in contempt. “The point is this recession has put us $1 billion dollars in the hole, and we have slashed to the bone and now we’re looking into the cartilage to the tune of about $400 million dollars.”

The largest chunk of Gov. Inslee’s budget is dedicated to schools. He wants to spend $18.2 billion in order to meet McCleary. That would include money for smaller K-3 classes and full-day kindergarten for all students across the state.

Social and Health Services would get $6.4 billion. Washington colleges and universities would be allocated $3.4 billion, but in-state undergraduate tuition would be frozen.

When asked whether he changed his tune from the 2012 campaign when then-candidate Inslee vowed not to raise taxes: “The combination of the legislature not closing these loopholes… and increasing demands in education and mental health, we simply have not been able to generate the revenues necessary to provide vital services to Washingtonians. I have hoped to avoid this route. I have tried to avoid this route, but we now have an obligation to our children. They oughta have a first class education. It is a duty of ours and I intend to fulfill it.”

Immediately following the Governor’s news conference, the Senate Republican’s chief budget writer issued a statement. Sen. Andy Hill (R – Redmond) said, “Investing in student achievement and providing essential services should not depend on risky tax schemes that threaten our economy. Educating our children, caring for those in need and supporting our local economy demands thoughtful, bipartisan budget leadership. Tax increases should be the last resort, not the first response.”

You can see more of the details of the Governor’s 2015-17 budget proposal here.

You can also hear more from Governor Inslee’s budget director, David Schumacher.  He is the  guest on this week’s “Inside Olympia.”

Governor Jay Inslee to Release Entire Budget Proposal Thursday

By | December 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Governor Jay Inslee will release the entirety of his proposed 2015–17 biennial budget on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

TVW will carry the event live, both on TV and on our website.

Here’s the link to watch it live from your computer.

Washington Works to Protect Students From Natural Disasters

By | December 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Oso landslide and fierce summer wildfires show how natural disasters might impact Washington schools. And to help school districts plan ahead, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has released its final “K-12 Facilities Hazard Mitigation Plan.”

For three years, staff researched the natural dangers facing our schools, making us one of the first states in the country to tackle such a large study.

The six major natural disasters most likely to occur in Washington: earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, wildfires, volcanic events and landslides.

The hope is school districts will use the report to help plan renovations to old buildings, and safer designs for new ones that can be ready for the disasters pinpointed for their region.

The final report is available here.

It’s also one of the topics on “The Impact” this week which airs on TVW Wednesday at 7 & 10 p.m.

Also on the show this week: The Governor’s budget proposal, including a carbon pollution charge to raise money for schools and transportation, and the school district building an innovative new school to protect kids from an earthquake followed by a tsunami.

Categories: The Impact, Uncategorized

Inside Olympia: Paroles & Pardons

By | December 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

Deciding whether to parole or pardon prisoners is a difficult, politically dicey task. Austin Jenkins interviews Gov. Jay Inslee’s General Counsel Nick Brown, Clemency and Pardons Board Chair Jennifer Rancourt, and Indeterminate Sentence Review Board Chair Lynne DeLano.

Watch here:

Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

By | December 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

It’s Officially Christmas at the Washington State Capitol. For the 26th year, the annual Holiday Kids’ Tree is lighting up the Capitol rotunda.

Photo: Courtesy AWB

It’s a noble fir grown in Olympia and donated by the Winkleworld Noble Fir Tree Farm. The tree is 35 feet tall and wrapped with five-thousand LED lights. The 200 decorations covering the tree fit the theme of Disney’s “Frozen.” Once the tree is taken down after Christmas, all the stuffed characters will be wrapped and given to patients at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital.

The Tree is sponsored by the Association of Washington Business and also helps raise money for rural families in need.

You can get in the holiday spirit and watch the Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony here.

Categories: Uncategorized

House Environment Leaders Talk About Priorities for the 2015 Legislative Session

By | December 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

Climate change legislation is just one of the many big topics Washington’s House Environment Committee will tackle during the 2015 legislative session.

Committee Chair, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D – Burien), and ranking minority member, Rep. Shelly Short (R – Addy), stopped by TVW this week to talk about that and another big priority, oil train safety.

Be sure to watch this week’s episode of The Impact.

 

 

House Democrats Announce Committee Leadership

By | December 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

After reorganizing House committees for the next biennium, Democrats announced Wednesday who will be leading those committees.

The list is as follows:

·       Agriculture and Natural Resources: Rep. Brian Blake (Aberdeen), chair; Rep. Kris Lytton (Anacortes), vice-chair

·       Appropriations: Rep. Ross Hunter (Medina), chair; Rep. Timm Ormsby (Spokane), vice-chair

·       Business and Financial Services: Rep. Steve Kirby (Tacoma), chair; Rep. Cindy Ryu (Shoreline), vice-chair

·       Capital Budget: Rep. Hans Dunshee (Snohomish), chair; Rep. Derek Stanford (Bothell), vice-chair

·       Commerce and Gaming: Rep. Chris Hurst (Enumclaw), chair; Rep. Sharon Wylie (Vancouver), vice-chair

·       Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Affairs: Rep. Sherry Appleton(Poulsbo), chair; Rep. June Robinson (Everett), vice-chair

·       Early Learning and Human Services: Rep. Ruth Kagi (Lake Forest Park), chair; Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (Seattle), vice-chair

·       Education: Rep. Sharon Santos (Seattle), chair; Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (Everett), vice-chair; Rep. Chris Reykdal (Tumwater), vice-chair

·       Environment: Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (Burien), chair; Rep. Strom Peterson (Edmonds), vice-chair

·       Finance: Rep. Reuven Carlyle (Seattle), chair; Rep. Steve Tharinger (Dungeness), vice-chair

·       General Government and Information Technology: Rep. Zack Hudgins (Tukwila), chair; Rep. Tana Senn (Mercer Island), vice-chair

·       Health Care and Wellness: Rep. Eileen Cody (West Seattle), chair; Rep. Marcus Riccelli (Spokane), vice-chair

·       Higher Education: Rep. Drew Hansen (Bainbridge Island), chair; Rep. Gerry Pollet (Seattle), vice-chair

·       Judiciary: Rep. Laurie Jinkins (Tacoma), chair; Rep. Christine Kilduff (University Place), vice-chair

·       Labor: Rep. Mike Sells (Everett), chair; Rep. Mia Gregerson (SeaTac), vice-chair

·       Local Government: Rep. Dean Takko (Longview), chair; Rep. Mia Gregerson (SeaTac), vice-chair

·       Public Safety: Rep. Roger Goodman (Kirkland), chair; Rep. Tina Orwall (Des Moines), vice-chair

·       State Government: Rep. Sam Hunt (Olympia), chair; Rep. Steve Bergquist (Renton), vice-chair

·       Technology and Economic Development: Rep. Jeff Morris (Mount Vernon), chair; Rep. Gael Tarleton (Ballard), vice-chair

·       Transportation: Rep. Judy Clibborn (Mercer Island), chair; Rep. Jessyn Farrell (Seattle), vice-chair; Rep. Jake Fey (Tacoma), vice-chair; Rep. Luis Moscoso (Mountlake Terrace), vice-chair

You can find the entire list of House Democratic committee assignments on their website.

 

Categories: Democrats, WA House

House Democratic Leaders Reorganize Committees

By | December 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Democrats have a new structure for House committees for the 2015 legislative session. Some committees have been canceled, others added, and some of the remaining will have new names and roles.

According to a document given to House members, there are now 21 committees instead of 23. The committees canceled include the appropriations subcommittees on education and the one on health and human services, along with the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee.

There is a new committee being formed to deal specifically with issues related to marijuana and gambling. It’s called the Commerce and Gaming Committee. The description on the document: “The House Commerce & Gaming Committee considers issues relating to commerce in alcohol, tobacco and cannabis and issues relating to the regulation and oversight of gaming, including tribal compacts.”

Also new next session, a State Government Committee. It will take over the ethics, campaign finance and other state agency issues often heard by the Government Operations and Elections Committee.

There is a new name and focus for the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Information Technology. It’s no longer considered a subcommittee and will address issues of state government, LEAN management, and audits.

The new Labor Committee has a shorter name. The Workforce Development part was dropped from that committee and moved to the Higher Education Committee.

To read the House committee descriptions: 2015-16 committee issue areas (2)

Majority Coalition Caucus Selects all Republican Committee Leaders

By | December 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

With Republicans firmly in control of the Washington State Senate, the Majority Coalition offered all committee chairmanships to members of the majority party. No Democrats were included on the list of chair assignments released by the caucus Tuesday afternoon.

For the last two year, with two Democratic members of the MCC, the caucus had given the chair position to Democrats on two committees: Financial Institutions & Insurance, chaired by Sen. Steve Hobbs (D – Lake Stevens), and Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development, chaired by Sen. Brian Hatfield (D – Raymond). In 2014, Sen. Hobbs was demoted to co-chair in order to share the position with Sen. Jan Angel (R – Port Orchard). Former Sen. Tracey Eide (D – Federal Way) co-chaired the Transportation Committee. The Democrats turned down other chair positions that had been initially offered.

This year the only Democratic member of the Majority Coalition Caucus is Sen. Tim Sheldon (D – Potlach).

New this year, the Majority Coalition created the Accountability & Reform Committee. Senator-elect Mark Miloscia, who was once a Democrat, (R – Federal Way) will chair that committee. In a Senate Republican press release, new Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler (R – Ritzville) said the committee is a priority for the caucus. “We have a crisis of confidence and competence,” said Schoesler. “Our main focus will be to restore people’s trust and to make sure state government works for the people who pay the bills and not just special interests.”

Other committees that will be lead by new chairs:

-Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development
Chair: Senator-elect Judy Warnick (R – Moses Lake)

-Commerce & Labor
Chair: Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R – Spokane)

-Financial Institutions & Insurance
Chair: Sen. Don Benton (R – Vancouver)

-Trade & Economic Development
Chair: Sen. Sharon Brown (R – Kennewick)

-Transportation
Chair: Sen. Curtis King (R – Yakima)

The remaining committees will be led by the same chair:

-Early Learning & K-12 Education
Chair: Sen. Steve Litzow (R – Mercer Island)

-Energy, Environment & Telecommunications
Chair: Sen. Doug Ericksen (R – Ferndale)

-Governmental Operations
Chair: Sen. Pam Roach (R – Auburn)

-Health Care
Chair: Sen. Randi Becker (R – Eatonville)

-Higher Education
Chair: Sen. Barbara Bailey (R – Oak Harbor)

-Human Services, Mental Health & Housing
Chair: Sen. Steve O’Ban (R – Tacoma)

-Law & Justice
Chair: Sen. Mike Padden (R – Spokane Valley)

-Natural Resources & Parks
Chair: Sen. Kirk Pearson (R – Monroe)

-Ways and Means
Chair: Sen. Andy Hill (R – Redmond)

Clarification on the League of Women Voters of Washington

By | October 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

TVW would like to clarify the position of the League of Women Voters of Washington. In our question to Sen. John Braun on the Oct. 8 edition of “The Impact,” we stated the league was opposed to Initiative 1351, which would reduce class sizes. The league’s board voted to take no position, and neither supports nor opposes the initiative.

The following is a statement from their website: LWVWA.org.

“Initiative 1351 – The League of Women Voters of Washington does not take a position on this initiative.This measure would direct the legislature to allocate funds to reduce class sizes and increase staffing support for students in all K-12 grades, with additional class-size reductions and staffing increases in high-poverty schools. Although the LWVWA has studied K-12 education numerous times (1968, 1975, 1977, 1991, 1997 and 2009), it has not studied class size as a way “to ensure that every child regardless of race, color, gender, national origin, age, sexual orientation, or disability is ready to learn (K-12 – 2). The League’s position on Initiative and Referendum supports having sponsors of these measures suggest ways to pay for them.Therefore the LWVWA Board voted to neither endorse nor oppose Initiative 1351.”
Categories: TVW

Gov. Inslee releases supplemental budget proposal

By | December 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

Governor Jay Inslee unveiled his proposed supplemental spending plan for 2014 on Tuesday, specifically highlighting prisons, education and technology upgrades.

This is the first time in six years the state legislature won’t start the next session with a budget shortfall. Instead, the Governor proposed increasing the $33.6 billion state budget by about about $200 million.  Governor Inslee referred to his proposal as a, “hold steady budget in a get ready year.”

The good news, he pointed out, is that our state’s economy is slowly and steadily improving.  But slow and steady, the Governor says, is not enough to keep pace with rising mandatory costs for state services.

“We have yet to regain the jobs even today that we have lost in the great recession, and revenue collections have not yet returned to pre-recession levels,” Governor Inslee told reporters. “So, holding steady this year will allow us to prepare for next year when the situation and the task before us will be greater.”

The Governor was critical of the budget passed earlier this year that included $1 billion for education in order to meet the McCleary requirements laid out by Washington’s Supreme Court. He believes it includes short-term fixes that are not sustainable, and leaves holes the legislature will have to fill next session.  Governor Inslee hinted that the next budget negotiations will have to include serious discussions on closing tax exemptions in order to generate the almost $5 billion his office says is needed for education in the next few years.

Immediately following the Governor’s news conference Republican Senator Andy Hill responded by saying, “In a lot of ways, raising taxes is the lazy way out.”

Here are some of the proposed spending ideas included in the Governor’s budget:

- $11 million to cover wildfire costs

- $7 million to address prison capacity

- $8 million for a legal settlement to provide more mental health services for children

- $10 million for a collectively bargained rate increase for childcare providers

- $13 million for critical information technology upgrades

The supplemental budget highlights are online.

You can also watch the Governor’s press conference on TVW’s website.

Categories: Budget, Governors Office

Shorter sentence recommended for woman who participated in murder plot as teen

By | September 13, 2013 | 0 Comments

Washington’s Clemency and Pardons Board is recommending the governor grant a shorter sentence for one of the teens involved in a brutal murder-for-hire plot in Everett.

Marriam Oliver could be released after three more years in prison, if she remains infraction free within that time period.

“Today, I have a deeper understanding of not just my life, but human life,” Oliver told the board during Friday’s hearing.

Oliver has been in prison since 2001 when she was sentenced to 22 years for her role in the murder of 64-year-old Jerry Heimann. She and four other teens were recruited by family friend, Barbara Opal, to stab and beat Heimann to death. Opal worked as a caretaker for Heimman’s mother, and allegedly wanted to steal thousands of dollars from his bank accounts.

In exchange for the crime, Oliver’s attorney says Opal promised the teens money and rewards. Oliver was supposed to get free rides and visits to the roller-skating rink.

During her emotional telephone testimony, Oliver described the crime:

“I remember Jeff (Grote) and I checking his pulse and we both confirmed that he was dead, but Jeff insisted I hit him over the head to make sure he was dead, and that I would be as much guilty as them. I grabbed the bat and I raised it above my head. As I savagely hit him over the head… I remember sitting in county jail ashamed of myself. That wasn’t me.”

Barely 14 at the time, Oliver was charged as an adult.  She admitted to the crime from the start and agreed to a non-jury trial and to testify against the others.  Friends and family felt the penalty was too stiff for someone so young.

 Melinda Terry was Oliver’s 7th grade teacher. ”We were absolutely dumbfounded at the response of the legal team, of the community,” Terry said. “We knew these kids, and we knew what had happened was a total travesty,” said Terry.

Close to 40 people packed the Olympia hearing room to testify to the board that Oliver deserves a chance to give back to society, based on her remorse and the steps she’s taken to improve her life.

(more…)

Categories: Criminal Justice

Sen. Pam Roach defends herself against allegations

By | January 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

Sen. Pam Roach at the press conference

State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, met with members of the media Thursday to respond to recent and past allegations made against her regarding the treatment of legislative staff.

She told the journalists in attendance she wanted to explain who she was, highlight her accomplishments, and provide background on what lead up to sanctions imposed on her in 2010 by the Senate for the mistreatment of staff.

Those sanctions were lifted by the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee this week, allowing Roach to serve as Chair of the Senate Governmental Operations Committee.

New Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, told The Associated Press the Senate will investigate how the news organization obtained documents related to a more recent case in which Sen. Roach was accused of verbally attacking a Senate Republican staff member.

Due to TVW’s commitment to covering Washington’s legislative committee hearings, TVW did not have a camera at Sen. Roach’s press event.  We did, however, send a representative who recorded the audio.  Here is that unedited audio.

Click the link in the following window to listen: Pam Roach Press Conference (AUDIO)

Categories: WA Senate
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