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Archives: June 2013

June
29th

UPDATE: Senate leaders say no to vote on gas tax hike that would fund SR-167-to-Tacoma

UPDATED 5 p.m. with procedural move and comment from the governor’s office.

Senate leaders pronounced a transportation funding package dead this afternoon as they worked toward adjournment of their second special session as soon as tonight. Democrats fell short in an procedural move to force the proposal to the floor.

That would mean drivers wouldn’t have to cough up an extra 10.5 cents of gas tax and the South Sound would wait another year for help restoring bus service, widening Interstate 5 along Joint Base Lewis-McChord and extending state Route 167 to the Port of Tacoma.

The Senate’s mostly GOP

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June
28th

Governor’s office pushing hard for transportation money, but it’s an uphill battle

Prospects look dim in the Senate, but Gov. Jay Inslee’s office says it’s not giving up on a transportation package that would raise fees and gas taxes to fund highway projects.

“If we had heard a very clear and unified “no,” then we’d be out having a drink right now,” said Ted Sturdevant, who as legislative director is the governor’s point man in lobbying the Legislature. He said some in the GOP-dominated Senate majority want the projects.

Indeed, no one will say the transportation tax proposal is dead. Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom and Senate Transportation Chairman Curtis King have come close, saying it’s late in

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June
28th

State Auditor Troy Kelley seeks vetoes, saying budget threatens his independence

UPDATE 7/1: Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed the sections requested by Kelley.

Original post:

The budget compromise today requests that State Auditor Troy Kelley’s office perform a series of studies that Kelley said are “unfunded mandates” that “compromise the independence of this office.”

He said so in a letter to fellow Democrat Jay Inslee today asking the governor to veto the study requests, especially since lawmakers diverted money from his voter-approved performance-audit fund to pay for audits in other areas of government.

“The unfunded mandates requested in these subsections constitute a large portion of the funds remaining in the performance audit account, and

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June
28th

UPDATE: Senate passes budget on 44-to-4 vote; House votes 81-to-11 to send to Gov. Inslee

UPDATE 6:40 p.m.: The House passed the budget, sending it to the governor. Eleven Republicans voted no.

The lopsided House and Senate votes add up to a combined 125-15 margin in support of the compromise plan.

Original post:

The compromise state budget deal just passed the Senate on an overwhelming vote, with only four senators voting no: two Democrats, Rosemary McAuliffe of Bothell and Bob Hasegawa of Seattle, and two Republicans, John Smith of Colville and Mike Padden of Spokane Valley.

The budget came in for mostly praise — after some critical speeches from conservatives like Smith who would have preferred to add a study of how much fish people

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June
28th

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

… Could “Fish Consumption II” be on the way? Is the controversy over fish that sidetracked budget progress earlier this week about to be replayed?

We should find out soon, but don’t hold your breath. Yes, amendments to the budget have been prepared in the Senate that would restore a study of people’s fish-eating habits. (Background here from Jerry Cornfield  on Boeing’s push for the study and Democrats’ opposition.) And yes, the insistence on the study could blow up Thursday’s budget deal if passed.

But Colville Republican Sen. John Smith, the author of one of the amendments (the other is from

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June
27th

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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June
27th

House tries again, this time approves transportation funding

Two Democrats from rural districts reversed their votes today on a 10-1/2-cents-a-gallon increase in the gas tax to pay for road projects — giving supporters enough votes to pass it through the state House.

The vote came just a day after the exact same measure failed by one vote. But after Rep. Brian Blake of Aberdeen and Rep. Kevin Van De Wege of Sequim joined supporters, the bill passed by a 51-to-41 margin.

“It was kind of depressing yesterday, I have to admit,” said the plan’s author, Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, who insisted she did not promise anything to get the votes. ”It was just

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