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Tag: Kelli Linville


Hans Zeiger wins House seat

A weeklong hand recount of ballots has confirmed it. Hans Zeiger has unseated state Rep. Dawn Morrell.

The Republican won by just 30 votes.

With other recounts reportedly confirming today the losses by Sen. Randy Gordon and House budget chairwoman Kelli Linville,  Democrats’ majorities have been trimmed to 27-22 in the Senate and 56-42 in the House.

Pierce County’s three-member Canvassing Board certified the 25th Legislative District results this afternoon. The recount narrowed Zeiger’s lead slightly, from 47 in the first count.

“It really helps you to appreciate the value of one vote,” Zeiger said.

The recount by

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Who will write the state budget?

Whoever leads the Legislature’s budget committees next year will have to eliminate a $4.5 billion deficit at a time when federal aid is drying up and voters have all but ruled out the use of tax increases. That means lots of tough cuts.

What glutton for punishment would want this job?

If House Ways and Means Chairwoman Kelli Linville is retired by voters, there’s a host of plausible successors among the chairmen of the budget subcommittees: people like Tacoma Rep. Jeannie Darneille. Finance Committee Chairman Ross Hunter of Medina declined to say if he wants to move to budget chairman.

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Edujobs numbers are questionable, but what about claims of saved cops and firefighters?

In my column today I looked into the origins of the claims about the federal Education Jobs Fund.

The $10 billion appropriation will be distributed to states roughly on a per capita basis and can be used to retain existing teachers, rehire those laid off or hire new teachers. Washington will get about $206 million and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray has said it will save the jobs of 3,000 state teachers who are facing layoffs.

While the exact number is questionable, given that state school districts are not planning significant layoffs for the upcoming school year, one specific claim about the other part of the federal help is even more squishy. That’s the $16 billion to increase federal sharing of Medicaid programs, traditionally a shared state-federal responsibility.

Washington was counting on that money to keep its current state budget in balance. When it appeared that it wouldn’t be coming, Gov. Chris Gregoire began preparing to make across-the-board cuts to all state budget items in the 3-to-4 percent range.

Somehow, the political rhetoric surrounding the Medicaid match money became a debate over police and firefighters. Read more »


Veto pen skewers studies

In a time of pinching pennies, it was hard for lawmakers to get their favorite ideas started up as new projects or even studied this session.

And some that did survive were eliminated today at the 11th hour. Gov. Chris Gregoire said she vetoed more than half of all reports and studies called for in the budget.

One veto saves $250,000 by dumping a proposed government-reform commission designed by Sen. Jim Kastama of Puyallup. The idea was to appoint veteran state leaders to a panel that would pick through the budget to find inefficiency and duplication.

But Gregoire wrote to legislators that the panel would itself duplicate work: “While I strongly support these goals, there are programs that address the same concerns.”

Kastama was caught by surprise by the veto. He said Gregoire promised him in a meeting a week before session ended that she would support the commission, and even talked about how members would be appointed. “She went back on her word, plain and simple,” he said.

He said it’s different from the other agencies that audit government because it would actually come up with legislation. “I really don’t think my colleagues are serious about substantial government reform.”

I’m waiting to hear back from the governor’s budget director about this one. UPDATE: Budget director Marty Brown said the governor supports the concept. “She thinks she can do it without spending any money.”

Another $250,000 study axed would have considered consolidation of some of Washington’s 295 school districts. There are too many districts and too much money spent on superintendents’ salaries, said Rep. Sam Hunt of Olympia, who proposed it.

But Gregoire said there’s already a study being done, and the new commission would only distract school districts when they need to be focused on education reforms that will allow the state to apply for federal Race to the Top funding.

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Attempt to save Maple Lane fails

Lewis and Thurston county lawmakers tried to amend the budget to save Maple Lane School, but couldn’t muster the votes in the House this evening.

The juvenile detention center in Grand Mound would close in the budget, saving about $6 million.

Republicans backed Democratic Rep. Brendan Williams’ amendment, but he couldn’t get much help from his own party, and it failed on a 45-52 vote. Williams then became one of a few Democrats to vote against their party’s budget.

A consulting firm’s 2009 study concluded that closing Maple Lane is a bad idea because the state lacks

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Budget strings on McKenna loosened

Democrats have taken a step back from the restrictions they put on Attorney General Rob McKenna, my Olympian colleague Brad Shannon reports today.

I reported Wednesday the governor’s budget office had subjected McKenna to a  freeze on state contracts, rescinding an exemption it had awarded days earlier. Democratic leaders in the Legislature asked for the exemption to be pulled. Rep. Kelli Linville said they wanted to prevent McKenna from spending state money on his legal challenge to the federal health care overhaul.

Today McKenna’s office said the budget office has lifted its restrictions on contracts, except those that might

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McKenna already dealing with funding backlash

Quietly, Democratic lawmakers have already moved to make it harder for Attorney General Rob McKenna to spend money suing the federal government over health care.

The reaction to the Republican lawman joining a 13-state attack on President Obama’s health care bill has come swiftly. Not only are Democrats considering a budget proviso blocking the lawsuit, but McKenna already faces new controls on his spending.

Office of Financial Management Director Victor Moore sent a letter Tuesday revoking McKenna’s blanket exemption to a freeze on state contracts. The exemption, which Moore had granted days earlier, allowed the attorney

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Budget panel: Give ethics board the ax

The House Ways and Means Committee voted this afternoon to eliminate funding for the Executive Ethics Board.

Find out more about the proposal here.

A couple of comments from before the voice vote:

Rep. Jeannie Darneille, in support: “I believe we are in the toughest of economic times, and I cannot justify to my voters spending $492,000 to maintain this kind of scrutiny of 11 state employees.” The board fined 11 people last year.

Rep. Gary Alexander, in opposition: “To me this is an important area. We need to maintain ethics oversight, as much in the executive

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