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Tag: Ross Hunter


UPDATE: Some vague budget strategies fall out; others fall in

UPDATE 10:25 a.m. 6/28: The budget contains at least $190 million in unspecified savings.

In addition to the $140 million in reversions mentioned below, it assumes agencies will save $30 million through lean management techniques, $5 million from more efficient use of computer technology and $5 million from more efficient delivery of back-office services to agencies.

Then there is a budget item calling for $10 million in savings “related to providing health benefits.” That would come, according to the budget, from either efficiencies or coordination with the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

Original post:

The budget still hasn’t been released publicly, so

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No budget deal this week would mean layoff notices Monday for thousands of state employees

Thousands of state employees may receive temporary layoff warnings Monday if state lawmakers don’t approve a budget before then, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office said Thursday.

The notices would warn employees that they will be temporarily laid off starting July 1 if if the Legislature fails to finalize a budget by June 30, said Mary Alice Heuschel, the governor’s chief of staff.

The planned layoff notices are part of the state’s contingency plan for how to deal with a potential government shutdown, which would affect roughly two-thirds of government agencies next month if lawmakers’ don’t reach a budget deal.

Most state

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House budget advances from Appropriations Committee; floor vote expected Friday or Saturday

A budget plan that would raise $1.3 billion through new taxes in Washington state passed the House Appropriations Committee late Thursday night, setting it up for a vote on the House floor Friday or Saturday.

The spending plan proposed by House Democrats would eliminate 15 tax breaks for certain businesses such as travel agencies, while raising taxes on commodities including beer and bottled water. That money would help put $1.9 billion toward basic education in Washington state, which legislators are under a court order to fully fund by 2018.

The budget passed the House committee on an 18-13 vote at

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Gov. Inslee says a longer life for temporary taxes on businesses, beer do not violate his no-tax pledge

About 24 hours into his new job, Gov. Jay Inslee told reporters today that it would not violate his no-new-taxes pledge if the Legislature chose to extend the 3-year life of temporary taxes on service businesses and beer beyond their June expiration. The new governor’s remarks are sure to stir controversy even though he said several times he was not actually advocating a longer life to tax surcharges on service businesses and beer beyond June 30.

At least he isn’t proposing anything as yet.

What he said when first asked about temporary taxes was:

“So I

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The budget problem that Jay Inslee and the next Legislature will face

The state budget shortfall is roughly unchanged after new projections. Forecasters are slightly downgrading their expectations for state revenue through mid-2015 (by $80 million), but officials said savings in state programs such as Medicaid more than outweigh the reduction.

The bottom line: An expected $900 million hole in the next two-year, $33.8 billion budget.

But those numbers are misleading because they don’t include court-mandated obligations to schools. Depending on who you ask, those demand somewhere between $1 billion and $4 billion in the next budget period.

House budget chairman Ross Hunter figures when you add those school obligations (perhaps $1.9 billion,

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State pension contributions to rise; state cost $390 million

UPDATED: Washington state’s Pension Funding Council voted Wednesday to recommend higher contribution rates for several state pension plans. The moves ultimately affect state and local government employers as well as workers, and the changes had mostly been assumed, according to Matt Smith, state actuary.

Smith had outlined options in an earlier report. You can see the many new rates here. Option B was selected, which means rates go up for most plans but remain the same for the Washington State Patrol Retirement System and Public Safety Employees Retirement System (which had faced

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Wednesday’s dueling press conferences showed just how far Legislature is from a budget deal

I knew they were in trouble when both sides used the same wording to describe what they have done to reach a deal.

At a morning press conference Wednesday, House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said they hadn’t been spending much time on the budget because “we’ve been negotiating a set of reform bills that move significantly toward their position.”

Later at their own presser, the Republican/Democrat coalition in the Senate responded that they’d been doing most of the giving.

“If you are not getting something, you just keep moving to the other side,” said Sen. Joe Zarelli, the GOP budget

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Budget negotiators aim for partial solution

Top Republican and Democratic budget writers in the House say they are now trying to reach a deal on some of the less controversial proposed budget cuts, with hopes of eliminating just a fraction of the state’s $2 billion budget shortfall in the Legislature’s emergency session.

An “early-action” plan in the works might carve out $400 million or $500 million that both parties can agree on, said the House GOP’s lead budget negotiator, Rep. Gary Alexander. He hopes they can reach a deal by next week that can be presented to the public and the Senate.

He declined to detail

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