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McCleary responses range from compliant to defiant

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

You might have read the AP story about legislative pushback coming from both sides of the aisle on the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner has a bill that would shrink the court from nine members to five. Part of it is a response to what he sees as judicial overreach, but he also said it would save money.

During AP’s Legislative Preview earlier in January I wondered if state Sen. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville was chafing at the McCleary decision follow-up when he said, “If money were the key to education we’d all long for our kids to be in the Washington, DC schools.” If we were not in the midst of a period in which the court had demanded the Legislature spend more on schools, it would be just another political statement. Coming at this time, however, it seemed like it might be more than partisan posturing.

Jim Hargrove, a Democratic state senator, is also on the record saying he sees “separation-of-power problems” with the court’s approach.

Doug Cloud, who was one of the Republican candidates to replace Jan Angel in the House, said he sees problems with the court’s actions.

If legislators, almost all of whom say they will allocate more money to education regardless, decide to challenge the court’s authority, it could mark a precedential moment in Washington history.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing spending $200 million more from this budget on education, including $74 million that would give teachers a 1.3 percent raise. It would be the first cost-of-living raise since 2008, despite the fact that voters approved annual COLAs in 2000. The governor also cited not just the decision, but the court’s statement that the Legislature was not moving fast enough to get to full funding by 2018.

The governor’s press release follows:
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State payout to local counties $800,000 for election to replace Inslee in Congress

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Kitsap County received $55,706.21 for its share of last year’s election to replace Jay Inslee in Congress for a month.

Jerry Corn at the (Everett) Herald has the story revealing the final amount the state paid to local counties to add an election to replace Jay Inslee in Congress.

Inslee resigned for his seat in Congress early in 2012 to focus on the governor’s race, which I’m guessing most of you know he won.


State shows economy on the red side of ‘flat’

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Mike Baker’s Associated Press story today on the state’s economic forecast emphasizes the most salient point, something that could be lost in the press releases.

“Washington state government can expect to bring in $16.1 million less than projected in the current budget cycle because of a lackluster economic recovery, forecasters said Wednesday” is what Baker wrote in the AP story Wednesday.

That might be confusing to some who read the state’s Office of Financial Management press release that carries the headline “Washington quarterly revenue projection for 2011–13 increases $156 million.”

Both are correct, but context is important. State revenues are up $172 million for the two-year budget because of “policy changes and fund shifts,” wrote Brad Shannon at the Olympian. Subtract $16 million from revenues lost by the overall economy and you get that $156 million increase.

In relative terms the $16 million is more or less flat, according to House Ways and Means Chairman Ross Hunter, a Medina Democrat. Compared to the forecast a year ago when revenues were projected to be down $780 million from earlier predictions, that’s true. The celebrations over the most recent numbers, however, are tepid at best and fraught with warnings about events that could make the numbers a lot worse.

OFM’s press release follows, as does the governor’s official statement and those from Republican budget leadership. If Democratic leadership from the Legislature issues any statements I’ll add them.
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Fallout from Inslee’s resignation

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

The announcements from both parties were politically predictable in the wake of Jay Inslee’s decision to quit being a member of Congress for the rest of the year.

“It’s shameful of Congressman Inslee to lie to his constituents and the people of Washington about his intentions,” said WSRP Chairman Kirby Wilbur.

“It was a difficult decision, but what I need to do right now is focus all my attention on talking to people about what’s really important – creating jobs and growing our economy,” said Inslee.

The reaction from traditional allies on the left, however, has not been kind. Joel Connelly at seattlepi.com and Nina Shapiro at SeattleWeekly.com compared his decision to Sarah Palin’s resignation as Alaska governor. There is other precedent for it being a successful move. Neil Abercrombie left Congress to run for governor of Hawaii.

For locals the bigger impact is half of Kitsap County will not have a member of Congress to vote for them for the rest of the year and a few days into 2013. His staff will continue to work to help constituents. I don’t know how much heft is loss when those staff members don’t have a member of Congress.

Some members of the First District will have a member of Congress for the month between election certification and inauguration. Whoever wins the First District race in November will begin serving the district as soon as the election is certified. That new member of Congress however, will be serving in the new boundaries drawn up as part of redistricting. That means about half of all Kitsap residents will still have to wait until Jan. 3, 2013 when the new Sixth District member of Congress is sworn in.

Because of redistricting, it also means that some Washington residents will have two members of Congress, wherever the new First and the old districts overlap. Lucky them, I guess.


Same-sex marriage gains higher profile with governor’s backing

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

When I wrote the story last week about Heather Purser, who lobbied to get same-sex marriages licensed and recognized within the Suquamish Tribe, it was done with the idea that the issue could be a big one in the upcoming legislative session. Gov. Chris Gregoire’s decision to put forward her own bill now guarantees it.

As part of the story the interviews included discussions about the possible political realities and addressed questions that were not part of the piece on Heather. A story has its focus, and that one was more about her and her possible upcoming role. This might be a good time to discuss some of those other conversations.

We should start with some of the arguments against expanding marriage rights. Two Republican state legislators’ e-mails arrived in my inbox. State Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane Valley said he was surprised the governor and Democrats were making this an issue when the state was still in a budget crisis. He referenced how people have taken advantage of the state’s domestic partnership rules.

State Sen. Val Stevens of Arlington was more direct about the issue itself:

“Marriage between one man and one woman gives strength to society. Marriage and the family, instituted since the beginning of time, is the cornerstone of our nation and gives stability in our society. Children look to their mother and father to teach them family principles, which gives them a foundation to become contributing members of society.

“Same-sex marriage will erode that foundation. It will undermine the value that is statistically upheld for children being parented by a mother and father.

“Domestic partnership claimed to be the goal of the homosexual community, in order to give them the legal foundation they claimed was needed. However, only one-quarter of one percent of Washington citizens have taken advantage of the domestic partnership legislation passed in 2009. But now they want marriage.

“This is a tactic to divert attention from the emergent issue of the state’s financial crisis.
“The Washington State Constitution protects freedom of conscience and our religious heritage. I will oppose this legislative proposal for the sake of maintaining our stable society.”

That third paragraph was a particular point I addressed with Joshua Friedes, director of marriage equality for Equal Rights Washington. I asked if Washington voters approved the “Everything but Marriage” measure in 2009, don’t gay and lesbian couples already enjoy all the same legal protections that straight couples do. He said it hasn’t worked out that way.

People pressed with legalities and policies and rules understand what “marriage” offers someone, particularly in a crisis situation. They can’t be assumed to understand what rights a “domestic partner” has, he said. The classic example of gay couples not being able to exercise decisions or even visitations in hospitals still exists, he said, even if the law has changed in their favor.

The bigger stumbling blocks are with federal rules, he said. Gay couples don’t get the same benefits straight married couples do when it comes to taxes and Social Security benefits, he said. Providing marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples won’t change that, he said, but it will send a message.

“What’s important is Washington will be making clear for the first time that gay and lesbian families deserve the same rights as other families. That in itself is very important. We will have equal dignity in Washington state as we continue to work for the federal rights and responsibilities,” Friedes said.

And, he continued, the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act is bound to fall. When it does, Washington gay and lesbian couples would be among the first to benefit if marriage rights are extended.

State Rep. Sen. Christine Rolfes, a Bainbridge Island Democrat, will support a same-sex marriage bill and protections for religious institutions to be sure the churches are not forced into supporting something they are opposed to. I asked if she knew of any ways churches had been harmed by same-sex marriage laws in other places, and she didn’t.

The website for PBS NewsHour show sheds some light. Every expert takes time to illustrate that churches won’t have to marry same-sex couples, which when you’ve read that for the sixth time gets old. There are ways, however, that churches could be affected. Churches that deliver services to the public could be targeted if they’re found to be denying them based on marriages it doesn’t recognize. There are issues of health benefits for employees and hiring practices generally. Another site pointed to a lawsuit in New Jersey in which the owner (a church) of a park site, didn’t want to allow a same-sex marriage ceremony to be performed by someone renting space.

For Friedes I asked the question if they weren’t afraid the same-sex issue wouldn’t have the same impact some thought it had in 2004. Many states had measures they called, “Defense of Marriage” initiatives or ballot items and some thought it helped get George W. Bush re-elected, because it ignited a base on the right that might otherwise have skipped the election. Were that to happen in Washington, would it hurt the chances of Jay Inslee, who supports same-sex marriage, in his run for governor against Rob McKenna, who is against it? Friedes said he thinks public sentiment has changed dramatically in the eight years since that election. And, he said, they’re working to get the measure passed in the Legislature. He has no delusions that it wouldn’t likely end up on the November ballot anyway in the form of a referendum. But, he said, what was a wedge issue for the right has in the last eight years become a wedge issue for the left.


Are you wondering whether Jay Inslee is running for governor?

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Now that Gov. Chris Gregoire is about to make it official she will not seek a third term, you may be wondering whether fellow Democrat, Bainbridge Island Congressman Jay Inslee would announce his intentions today.

He won’t.

That’s what his campaign contact Joby Shimomura said to me just moments ago. She also said the suggestion that now that Gregoire has announced that Inslee isare not true.

“That is not the case,” she said. He is still considering it. “He’ll make his decision known shortly.”

If you’d be surprised if Inslee decided to not run, you would not be alone.

UPDATE: Here’s the official statement from Inslee’s office: “I appreciate the Governor’s service during these difficult economic times. Today is her day. I will make my intentions on the Governor’s race known shortly.”

President Barack Obama issued this statement: “I applaud Governor Gregoire for her decades of outstanding service to the people of Washington. From Seattle to Pullman, Gov. Gregoire has demonstrated relentless determination in her efforts to foster economic growth, strengthen the communities she serves and improve the lives of millions of Americans. As a fierce advocate for American businesses, she continues to work tirelessly to promote American goods, open up new markets and strengthen American businesses abroad. As chairwoman of the National Governors Association, Gov. Gregoire not only fosters strong bipartisanship among her colleagues, she helps build common-sense solutions to some of our nation’s toughest problems. Michelle and I, along with the people of Washington, will miss her outstanding leadership and thank her for her years of service.”


Inslee ‘darn close’ to announcing governor run

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Jerry Cornfield at the (Everett) Herald reports U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, sent out an invitation for a Sunday fundraiser in Mukilteo advising:

“We know it’s early in the cycle, but the Congressman is trying to put some funds in the bank early for his Congressional race and also if there is an opening to run for Governor”

Cornfield checked with the stat’s Public Disclosure Commission to see if what the invite said was enough to require Inslee to file as a candidate for governor. Cornfield said it was “darn close,” but not quite enough of an official announcement.

The “opening” for Inslee would come if Gov. Chris Gregoire decided not to run for a third term, which most are predicting won’t happen.


Frances Haddon Morgan Center update

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

We posted online on Tuesday and plan to have in print a story updating the future of the Frances Haddon Morgan Center, a facility for the developmentally disabled that has been open since 1972.

At issue is whether the state’s executive branch, through the Department of Social and Health Services, is treating the center’s closure as a done deal and whether the agency has the right to do that.

I have a call into DSHS officials to find out what the agency’s plans are for the center and if it is as legislators contend, what authority they’re relying on to proceed that direction.

State Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, said she believes the agency is attempting to relocate the center’s residents before the Legislature passes a final budget. Doing so would take the decision about the center out of the Legislature’s hands. The questions being discussed now are whether that is really happening and whether that is within the executive branch’s right to do.

More as it arrives.


Anticipating the 2012 governor’s race

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, in an interview on KCTS, said he will have to decide sometime this year, and not too late, whether he plans to run for governor in 2012.

The most often mentioned potential opponent, Bainbridge Island Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee, will be speaking to the island Rotary club tonight. The Kitsap Sun’s Tristan Baurick will be there. I would not expect Inslee to make any kind of announcement tonight. It might be too soon after the most recent election and the current governor has not officially made her plans known yet.


Early, in Some Cases Way Early, Campaign Maneuvers

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

In general, we don’t make a lot of fuss over most endorsements or advertising. On endorsements we’ll usually provide a list of them, but we don’t write a story every time a candidate is endorsed by Washington Ichthyologists or the ASB President at Klahowya. For negative ads there might be a story or two, say when a candidate’s photo is doctored to make him or her like the victim of bad plastic surgery or it’s alleged that the candidate wants to sterilize sections of Poulsbo.

On Thursday we received notices that cause us to make two exceptions. Attorney General Rob McKenna has endorsed one of Jay Inslee’s challengers. The other is a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ad highlighting alleged negatives of someone who has not publicly stated an intention to run. Both developments make sense, but it doesn’t mean there’s little surprise.

The DSCC’s Web site, Dirty Deals Dino for Senate charges that Dino Rossi has profited mightily from his campaigns even though he lost.

“In 2004, after I lost my first race for governor, I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself – until I realized that this was not a political setback, but a business opportunity! I had lots of great ideas – and a rocking stump speech. Why not use those things to make a tidy little profit? The “nonprofit” Forward Washington Foundation was born. Forward Washington – which is what I called my campaign, too – was supposed to improve the state’s business climate. And it did! Without Forward Washington, my former political aides might have been out of work, and I would have had $75,000 per year less to live on! Of course, those whiny Democrats complained that I was evading campaign-finance disclosure laws. They were just jealous that the state’s Public Disclosure Commission found that the foundation had raised a whopping $360,000 from unidentified donors. When I left my foundation to run for governor again, I worried about my income loss, but it helped that the foundation spent nearly $10,000 on copies of my book to give to donors. Thanks, guys!”

The site doesn’t just focus on Rossi’s defeats. The committee argues that Rossi was put into politics by shady types and benefited from industries he supported when he was in office.

That I know of, there are no other negative ad campaigns against any of the announced candidates. The reason is simple. Scroll down the list of the dozen or so candidates who have announced they’re running against Democrat Patty Murray and see if you find someone who has better name recognition than Rossi. See anyone who immediately is a stronger bet against the incumbent?

McKenna’s endorsement of Republican James Watkins surprises me only because there is another Republican in that race. Why it makes sense is because it’s clear that McKenna is the favorite to carry the Republican banner in the governor’s race, while Inslee has been emerging lately as a strong possibility among the Democrats. Inslee has been blistering McKenna lately over the AG’s decision to challenge the constitutionality of the health care reform legislation just passed.

Horsesass.org posted a video of Inslee calling out McKenna. The video appears in a blog post longing for Inslee vs. McKenna in 2012.

Watkins’ press release references that potential race in announcing McKenna’s endorsement.

“We’ve shown that Congressman Inslee is vulnerable, and Congressman Inslee has shown us that he’s not terribly interested in being the 1st District’s representative, but is already itching to start his 2012 campaign for governor. (See here and here)

“With the support of Attorney General McKenna and people throughout the 1st District who want change in Washington, D.C., I look forward to retiring Mr. Inslee this November so he can devote himself full-time to seeking yet another political office.”

McKenna, for his part, is quoted only in endorsing Watkins.

“James has the real-world experience and solid principles to be a great congressman working for the 1st District,” said McKenna. “He will make a big difference in D.C. and help put our nation on a better path.”

Still, if Inslee were to lose his congressional seat, it would seem to hurt his chances to be the Democratic ticket bearer in 2012. If you’re one to believe there were political machinations in McKenna’s decision to challenge health care reform, it would not be a stretch to see it here, too.

About Watkins’ point that “We’ve shown that Congressman Inslee is vulnerable,” you may recall we took a look at that claim made by Watkins using a survey he commissioned.

The owner of the company that performed the survey was mentioned on another site.

Finding out who paid for the poll also is critical, said pollster Bob Moore of Oregon-based Moore Information. If a candidate has paid for it, then the numbers can’t be taken at face value, he said, and reporters should do everything they can to speak to the pollster about the results, not someone working with the campaign.

“The pollster may get some numbers that the campaign doesn’t like, and won’t release,” Moore said.

I contacted both the pollster and the campaign. The pollster told me I’d have to get the information I wanted from the campaign. A staffer from Watkins’ campaign contacted me Thursday by e-mail, stating in part:

“Since the poll has some information we would prefer not to have the Inslee campaign get wind of, we’re not going to release all the details.”

So that means either Watkins got some info the campaign is saving to lob onto Inslee later, or the pollster got some information the campaign didn’t like. Either way, without that information I don’t know how we can assume the conclusion “Inslee is vulnerable” is any more credible than an ad suggesting a candidate for the House wants to dump Hanford nuclear waste into the Columbia River.


Examining McKenna’s Motives

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Two local writers dive into the motives of state Attorney General Rob McKenna in suing the federal government over the health care bill just passed. I think they both do a pretty good job, with the caveat that each is assuming there is something beyond a legitimate belief that the health care reform just passed is unconstitutional. If McKenna believes the reform law is unconstitutional, you could rightly ask what choice he had but to challenge it.

The writers, though, are probably right in making that assumption. We can never assume that meeting constitutional muster is the only issue at play in constitutional issues. Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes said:

“We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is . . . “

He was also quoted by fellow justice William O. Douglas as saying 90 percent of the decisions made at the Supreme Court are based on emotions, that justices find ways in the document to back up their beliefs.

McKenna, though, seems at first blush to be the one AG in this fight with the most to lose by sticking his neck out. He’s a Republican who hasn’t been demonized by the left and is seen as a legitimate contender for the governor’s office. And yet the state is more left than right, and I think it’s not a bad bet to assume that most Washingtonians favor health care reform generally.

Let’s do assume again, as most of us have, that McKenna wants to be Washington’s governor. David Brewster at Crosscut.com offers this possibility:

Judging by the over-the-top reaction by local Democrats — talking about defunding his suit, slicing away A-G authority, even a recall — maybe McKenna was engaging in some “performance art.” That form of political craftiness consists of doing something so that your opponents fall right into the trap of extreme behavior, making you look sensible.

Then Peter Callaghan at the (Tacoma) News Tribune reminds us that to win in a November 2012 governor election, he’d first have to make it to that election, qualifying as one of the top-two vote getters in the primary. A move like this at least sets him apart from other Republicans. And if he hadn’t done it:

Had McKenna not joined the litigation he would have been savaged by Republicans and become a target of conservative talk radio. In the short term, it doesn’t hurt him much to instead be savaged by Democrats. They take their own risks by using budget maneuvers to block Mc-Kenna’s participation in the suit.

And then of course, Callaghan reveals the ultimate truth in all of this:

Anyone who claims to know how it will play in 2012 is making it up.


Health Care War Continues in Washington

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

On Tuesday the president signed the health care reform bill, which to some is a BFD, and I’m not talking about fire departments. Locals were talking about it. Also on Tuesday some state attorneys general, including ours, joined in a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of some of the bill’s provisions.

In response the Legislature might write into the budget a provision limiting the AG’s ability to offer such a lawsuit.

It all made for interesting radio on KIRO Tuesday. State Attorney General Rob McKenna, Gov. Chris Gregoire and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, were all on the Dave Ross show. McKenna made a repeat appearance on the Dori Monson show.

If you’ve got a few minutes, and if you’re here you clearly do, listen to the conversations. They’re available after the jump.

McKenna is clearly in the position that elements of the bill are unconstitutional, and he goes to some length to argue why. Gregoire and Inslee both say his interpretation is wrong, but spend more time talking about what impact it would have if McKenna’s case is ultimately upheld in the courts. If you’re a fan of the bill, that should worry you.

The U.S. Justice Department plans to defend the bill, so it isn’t as if no one thinks the bill passes muster. The problem comes, though, because the attorneys general could win. McKenna argues that they’re only going after particular elements of the bill, but Inslee and others argue that the elements they’re going after are pins that hold the whole thing up. Kill the mandate and you’ve essentially killed the bill.

The next question, then, is do Republicans really want to win this fight? If they do, will it give Democrats the opening to put forward something closer to a single-payer system? Dave Ross argues that if you turn this whole thing into a tax, rather than a forced entry into the market, you probably don’t get the same constitutional debate. At least those kind of cases have been argued and settled in the past.

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Gov’s State of the State

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Thanks again to TVW for making the governor’s state of the state address embeddable. Have you seen it yet? I haven’t either. The video follows the jump. (more…)


Legislative Preview Video from TVW

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

The one piece of technology that failed me this weekend was audio from the AP Legislative Preview in Olympia last week. TVW, however, made it easy. They’ve made the videos from the preview embeddable. If you’ve got a few hours and an ear for wonkiness, the videos follow the jump.
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Governor Anticipates ‘Shared Pain’ from Budget

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire was clear she didn’t like the budget she published last week. I’ve received probably a dozen or more e-mails from different organizations in response to the budget. No one of those liked it either.

In a letter to state workers the governor emphasized again she didn’t like the budget, saying, “This document is not true to the values I believe in and which have guided me through a 30-year career in public service. It’s not a budget I can live with nor is it one I believe Washingtonians can live with.”

Further in the letter (A PDF of which you can get here) her next budget should include funding for the state’s Basic Health and Apple Health plans; the state’s general assistance program; levy equalization; higher ed financial aid; early childhood education; adult medical, dental, vision and hospice programs; and developmental disability and long-term care services.

As for increased revenues Gregoire anticipates the federal government will ante up more for safety net programs, but will also work with the Legislature to find “additional needed revenue.” That first will come from exemptions and loopholes, savings and “we will experience shared pain from this work. While it is evident we cannot cut our way out of this budget dilemma, it is just as certain we cannot tax our way out of it.”

A copy of the letter was given to us by Dr. Bette Hyde, director of the Department of Early Learning, and Earl, executive director of the State Board of Technical and Community Colleges. The two visited with the Kitsap Sun editorial board.


State Budget Shortfall Up to $2.2 Billion

Friday, November 13th, 2009

A report by the state’s Caseload Forecast Council has created a potential increase of $520 million in what the state needs to spend, according to an e-mail sent to members of the House’s Ways & Means Committee.

Yona Makowski, senior fiscal coordinator for the House Democratic Caucus, wrote that the council’s revised forecast will be shown in the governor’s 2010 supplemental budget, which had already been expected to address a projected $1.7 billion shortfall.

Makowski wrote that the state’s Office of Financial Management computed the cost of the changes at $277.4 million, but other costs not directly related to the caseloads would add another $243 million.

State Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, shared the e-mail with us and pointed out that there is still another revenue forecast due, which could show another negative revision to the budget.

You can download the Caseload Forecast Council report here.

Some of the PowerPoint presentations offered at Friday morning’s meeting can be accessed here.


Good News! We’re Not as Bad Off as California, Oregon . . .

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Got a report to tell you about, but first let’s dig into some context.

Like any educated citizen, I rely on talk radio for much of my information.

Earlier this year one host in particular was making the case that Washington’s deficit budget shortfall was actually worse than California’s, because per capita it was higher, or close to it, or something. I suspected the talker might astonishingly be incorrect about that, but the Seattle Times backed him up, kind of.

Turns out he was incredibly wrong.

My suspicion about it was based on the notion California had reached its $42 million hole after years of dealing with other holes. So, if after years of wrangling and cutting everything we could we were still left with the same hole we had last year, then that would be a California-sized problem. That makes the talker wrong, but not incredibly so.

The incredible part comes in once you realize California’s budget is done every year. Washington’s is for every two years. So take Washington’s deficit and divide by two. Uh oh.

It still might be bad, but it’s not California bad.

So now the Pew Center on the States, a think tank that studies state issues, listed 10 states that are “in fiscal peril.” Guess what! Washington isn’t on the list!

If you look at the study itself this is not to suggest Washington is in good shape, it’s just not among the worst 10. It is tied with three states for 14th. From the press release for the study:

California’s financial problems are in a league of their own. But the same pressures that drove the Golden State toward fiscal disaster are wreaking havoc in a number of states, with potentially damaging consequences for the entire country.

This examination by the Pew Center on the States looks closely at nine states, in addition to California, that are particularly affected by the recession. All of California’s neighbors–Arizona, Nevada and Oregon–and fellow Sun Belt state Florida were severely hit by the bursting housing bubble, landing them on Pew’s list of states facing fiscal difficulties similar to California’s. A Midwestern cluster of states comprising Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin emerged, too, as did the Northeastern states of New Jersey and Rhode Island.

From the press release you can download the study if you like.

Pew compiled its list based on high foreclosure rates, increasing joblessness, loss of state revenues, the
relative size of budget gaps, legal obstacles to balanced budgets—specifically, a supermajority requirement for some or all tax increases or budget bills, and poor money-management practices.

Where Washington appeared to fare badly was in the size of the budget deficit and the fact that Washington is one of 17 states to require a supermajority to raise taxes.


‘Don’t Cut’ Not Cutting it with Governor

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Brad Shannon at the Olympian writes about Gov. Chris Gregoire’s apparent frustration with legislators saying “Don’t cut this.” There’s a projected need to cut between $1.2 billion and $1.7 from the current budget, starting in January. A report that made specific recommendations has drawn some defensiveness from some legislators. From the story:

“The message to us to not cut anything really is not helpful. We need to be working together and figuring out how to get from where we are to the end,” Gregoire said.

Yet “don’t cut” is mostly the message she’s gotten after a consultant’s report last week recommended closures of some adult prison, juvenile prison and developmentally-disabled care facilities. And some lawmakers are faulting the study.

By the way, governor, don’t cut that new midday ferry run in Bremerton.


Gov’s New Chief From Here

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Gardner here.

Just in case you don’t regularly check in with Chris Dunagan’s Watching Our Water Ways blog, allow me to refer you to his entry on the newly appointed chief of staff for Gov. Chris Gregoire. He’s Jay Manning, and he grew up here.

Here’s the AP story and an earlier story Dunagan wrote about Manning’s role at Ecology.


Governor Wants More from Feds in 2011

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

The Seattle Times’ Andrew Garber reports that Gov. Chris Gregoire told reporters that she made the case to President Obama that states are going to need help again in 2011, particularly with Medicare.

Almost everyone (And I only include “almost” because I’m allowing that there may be a contrarian out there somewhere.) agrees that the economic recovery, which may have already begun, will be slow. Gregoire is among them.

That we may already be in recovery, slow as it is, may mean the Legislature won’t have to hold a special session in October. Legislators have said economic projections might make it necessary to readjust the budget, but the last forecast was positive in that it wasn’t worse than expected.

State Rep. Fred Finn, D-Olympia, said Wednesday he ranks the odds as 60-40 against a special session. Part of that is because of the recovery we are rumored to be in. The other part is the logistical nightmare of opening up that conversation again. The session could address anything. “Once you call the Legislature back, it’s kind of hard to control where it goes,” Finn said.


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