Voters want legislators to finish business on time

Voters don’t like special sessions. They don’t like brinksmanship and games of budgetary chicken. Voters want legislators to debate a state budget, negotiate, and find agreement so they can conclude their business on time. Special sessions should be for extraordinary circumstances, but they’ve been used far too often in the last decade. A biennial budget is […]

In 2015, legislators should focus on the basics

The state Legislature opens its 2015 session today, and there are some big proposals on the table. Legislators would do well, though, to focus on the basics this year and make it a keep-it-simple session. Given the political realities in Olympia, state leaders should focus on getting the basics right and helping Washington’s economy. Realistically, […]

Tax tanker shipments and oil-by-rail the same

For decades, Washington’s oil spill regulatory program has helped ensure that we’re prepared to handle the oil tanker traffic in our state’s waters. The program is funded by a tax on oil that arrives by ship to be processed at Washington’s five refineries. It’s a marine-focused program that pays for inspections, regulations, and oil spill […]

Senate should put voter-approved tax restrictions into its rules

Now that the 2014 election has been certified we know the official make up of the Legislature. Based on the responses to our supermajority for taxes legislative survey, we also know that the members of the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) in the Senate support allowing the voters to consider a constitutional amendment to put the […]

Calling employees’ fraud tips “junk” not accurate or useful

KING 5’s “Their Crime, Your Dime” series from 2010-11 exposed some serious problems with welfare fraud against state government. Since then the state’s welfare agency, the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), has made some strides against fraud, but more remains to be done. Frontline state employees were happy to help the effort. From […]

Metro bus system: cuts to service hours well below predictions

When King County leaders put the Prop. 1 tax measure on the ballot to further fund the Metro bus system this past spring, they went into full-pessimism mode, warning of draconian cuts. That’s a standard tactic when government is trying to convince voters to raise taxes, but it’s rarely effective. It certainly wasn’t with Prop. […]

Health care is like the rest of life: financial incentives work

You’ve been meaning to get started on a fitness program to stay healthier, but you haven’t got around to it. That sounds like a lot of us. But what if it meant $125 a year off your insurance premiums? It’s not a lot of money. In fact, you might spend more on some workout clothes […]

Dispute over, but governor’s actions put state’s interests at risk

If you read my column two weeks ago about the labor standoff at the United Grain export terminal in Vancouver, you know that I disagreed with Gov. Inslee’s decision to end State Patrol protection for state grain inspectors. The inspectors were being threatened and harassed by picketing members of the union, which is why the […]

A good first step: state audit to look at problem of “independent” in-house judges

In May, a story broke about the state Insurance Commissioner’s top deputy pressuring an administrative law judge to rule the way Commissioner Mike Kreidler wanted. The judge’s rulings are supposed to be independent, but Kreidler’s office clearly felt they could dictate to the judge how she should rule. At SGW, we asked a simple question: […]

Four-year balanced budget helping save taxpayer money

After much wrangling and back-and-forth, Washington legislators passed a law in 2012 requiring them to pass budgets that balance with expected revenues over four years instead of just two. Proponents said the four-year balanced budget rule would not only reduce opportunities to use budget gimmicks but it would smooth out budget cycles and force legislators […]