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WA lawmakers head into third session

WA lawmakers head into third session

Washington legislators are headed into an unusual second special session, still hoping to bridge stark partisan differences and avoid a June 30 deadline for averting a partial government shutdown. Dejected and weary lawmakers were closing out their 30-day special session Tuesday with little to show for their labors.  Gov. Jay Inslee, a freshman Democrat who once served in the state House himself, called a special session to convene at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. At a Capitol news conference, Inslee sought…

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WA lawmakers & new gov gird for grueling session

WA lawmakers & new gov gird for grueling session

Washington lawmakers and incoming Gov. Jay Inslee are arriving in Olympia for a grueling budget-year legislative session that begins at high noon on Monday. The 63rd Legislature and the newly elected governor face a big budget shortfall — perhaps $2 billion, counting pay raises, rising cost of services for a growing and graying population and a state Supreme Court order to invest more in the state’s public schools.  Democrat Inslee and a number of legislators say they will try to…

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House tax plan: cats and dogs

House tax plan: cats and dogs

House Democrats have weighed into the tax debate in Olympia, offering an assortment of tax hikes – called “cats and dogs” in Capitol-speak – rather than a package that is anchored by a state sales tax increase. The $858 million package is closer in approach to Governor Gregoire than the Senate Democrats. The Democratic governor proposed a $605 million mix of taxes, including a $1-a-pack tax on cigarettes, a tax on pop and candy and a higher hazardous materials tax on petroleum…

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WA budget battle is on: Taxes, cuts & Uncle Sam

WA budget battle is on: Taxes, cuts & Uncle Sam

In an unusual rush of budgetry at the Capitol, the Senate and House went public with their dueling budget plans within hours of each other, setting up a dash to adjournment within a few weeks. Both proposals rely on another round of spending cuts, more federal bailout bucks, fund transfers galore, and, yes, tax increases.  The prob: closing a budget gap of $2.8 billion, just a few short months after dealing with a $9 billion projected deficit. The Senate tax…

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Oregon update: Voters OK income tax hikes

Oregon update: Voters OK income tax hikes

While Washington lawmakers and Governor Gregoire contemplate the prospect of tax hikes to help close a $2.6 billion budget shortfall, Oregon voters have upheld the Oregon Legislature’s decision to boost corporate and personal income taxes to the tune of over $730 million. Oregon voters, balloting by mail, on Tuesday approved a pair of referenda, both by a margin of better than 53-47.  Measure 66 will raise the margin income tax rate on personal income above $125k for individuals and $250k…

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Furlough days: new plan for 16 days of ‘temporary layoffs’

Furlough days: new plan for 16 days of ‘temporary layoffs’

Senate budget Chairwoman Margarita Prentice has introduced a plan for closing state agencies one day a month for the next 16 months, as a way of cutting costs as the state deals with a multibillion-dollar budget crisis. Prentice, a Renton Democrat, outlined  in Senate Bill 6503  introduced on Friday, specific closure days starting with Friday, March 12, and lasting through June 10, 2011. Most of the closures would be Fridays, as California currently does, giving state workers a long weekend, and…

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Budget woes dominate new legislative session

Budget woes dominate new legislative session

Washington’s election-year session gets under way at high noon on Monday, with lawmakers and the governor facing 2.6 billion problems. That, of course, is the size of the new projected budget deficit, $2.6 billion.  Less than a year ago, lawmakers closed a $9 billion gap, but the anemic economy, coupled with soaring demand for state services during this recession, has produced yet another yawning chasm. Governor Gregoire says a no-new-taxes budget fix would require service cuts and layoffs totaling $1.7…

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Gregoire budget: All cuts, for now

Gregoire budget: All cuts, for now

Governor Gregoire has proposed, “with the greatest reluctance,” a  new Washington State budget that fills a projected $2.6 billion deficit by cutting $1.7 billion from state programs and using $900 million in “rainy day” savings and fund balances. But she says she hopes the Legislature won’t pass her own no-new-taxes budget that she was required by state law to submit. She called her proposal “balanced, but unjust” and said she’ll propose a second budget next month that restores many of…

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Sea of red ink: WA treasury plunges $760 million

Sea of red ink: WA treasury plunges $760 million

It’s true that the state and national economy are finally recovering, but consumers aren’t spending and unemployment keeps edging upward.  That odd situation, dubbed a “revenue-less recovery,” today led the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council to slash another $760 million from the expected tax revenue for the next two-year period. State budget Director Victor Moore says the grim development means the Legislature and Governor Gregoire now have a budget hole of $2.6 billion to fill, just months after fixing a…

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State government money woes sweep West Coast

State government money woes sweep West Coast

Governor Gregoire and the Washington Legislature are cringing at the thought of a projected $2 billion budget gap this winter, and that number is expected to rise a bunch more in Thursday’s revenue forecast update.  This after closing a $9 billion gap in April. Does misery love company? Then take note that our sister states of Oregon and California are facing dire straits. Today’s LA Times says the fresh deficit of $21 billion is looming for the not-so-Golden State, even…

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