Budget

Did State Value Money Over Justice in Horrible Abuse Case?

The case in question resulted in the largest ever settlement payout by the state in a child abuse case — $9.75 million for five siblings who suffered terrible abuse at the hands of their parents. Faced with a tough case, internal records show that the AG’s office signed contracts with experts for hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to downplay the long-term psychological problems the five siblings could be expected to experience.

Public Paychecks: Seattle’s Mayor Not Among Highest-Paid City Employees

At the city of Seattle, it turns out, overtime pay is not just for emergencies. It’s more than half of some people’s annual paychecks. In fact, 18 of last year’s 25 top-paid Seattle city employees made the list thanks to overtime pay — up to $119,194 for one City Light worker.

Don’t Expect a Budget Before This Time Next Year

With the implementation of federal health care reform, Medicaid enrollment is now split between the Department of Social Health Services and the new state Health Benefit Exchange (HealthPlanFinder). The result is a net reduction in federal matching funds for administration, duplication of efforts, and more confusion for enrollees.

Metro Service May Not Need to Be Slashed as Much as Initially Expected

Did King County cry wolf to voters with predictions of 16 percent cuts to bus service? The County Council is now considering ways around the deepest cuts. Late in the campaign came new county sales-tax projections for Metro that are up $32 million for 2014 and $31 million for 2015, compared to earlier assumptions.

Legislature Punts Education Funding Back to Supreme Court

The Joint Select Committee recently approved an education report detailing some actions taken by the Legislature in response to the ruling from the state’s Supreme Court that lawmakers are under-funding basic education. Whether or not the Court will consider the report adequate – which they likely won’t – is yet to be seen, though some experts claim that they have no legal means of enforcing the issue anyway.

After All the Fuss and Bother, an Unremarkable Session Comes to an End

You can say the 2014 legislative session started with low expectations, and it lived right up to them. Washington lawmakers ended their 60-day session just before midnight Thursday after passing a do-no-harm budget and a handful of policy bills of mostly modest import. As two months of caterwauling, fingerpointing and partisan debate finally came to an end, they could point to one big achievement: They managed to wrap it all up on schedule, with seven minutes to spare. Now the big problem. How do you sum up a session in which nothing much really happened?

As Vapers Organize, Legislature Scrambles to Impose New E-Cig Tax – ‘Compromise’ Proposal Even Higher Than the Original

E-cigarettes, the come-from-nowhere issue of the year, seem to have prompted one of the strangest “compromise” proposals in state legislative history. Lawmakers eager to slap a whopping tax on the burgeoning biz started with a plan that would have doubled the cost of “vaping.” Now the solons are floating what they call a compromise plan – which would quadruple it. Maybe it’s just a big stupid goof, but it demonstrates a lack of understanding about a business lawmakers are poised to snuff, perhaps the first truly effective way to get people to stop smoking.

E-Cigarettes Bring Heavy Breathing to Statehouse – House D Tax Proposal Would Nearly Double the Cost

New Thing in Nicotine Weans People From Smoking – Yet House Would Impose Punitive 75 Percent Tobacco Tax in Name of Health

On Saturday you’re going to see one of the most amazing protests ever at the statehouse — an angry crowd that actually fumes. E-cigarette users and sellers are planning to storm the Capitol to show what they think of a House Democratic tax plan that would nearly double the cost. And the issue poses one of the most delightful quandaries in ages — lawmakers are happy to punish the tobacco industry, but should they use taxes to snuff a burgeoning business that appears to offer a far-safer alternative? Like the old Camel ads said, e-cigarettes tickle the T-zone. T for throat. T for taste. And T for taxes.

Unusual House Budget Proposal Looks Big, but Really Isn’t That Different Than the Senate – Two Weeks of Head-Scratching Before Final Gavel

It’s maybe one of the most confusing budget proposals in state history — a plan from the House Democrats that looks big, but really isn’t. If the supplemental budget proposal released Wednesday by House Democrats was written the normal way, lawmakers could be sure that they would be spending all springtime in Olympia waiting for a deal to be negotiated. But most of it is a conversation-starter for next year’s big tax-and-education debate. At its core the House plan is pretty much like the Senate’s, and everything points to adjournment in two weeks.