2015-17 Tax Debate: From “Buck Up” for $1.4 Billion to $180 Million Adopted net Revenue Increase

Although Governor Inslee campaigned on the promise in 2012 to not propose new taxes, the 2015 session started and ended in perfect symmetry with him calling for tax increases. With the exception of changing the B&O tax rate for royalties, neither the House nor Senate voted on any of the other tax increases originally proposed by the Governor.

The 2015 Legislative Session: What Happened?

Despite the best efforts of the Senate Republicans to obstruct progress every step of the way, we were able to make modest gains on some key priorities and we laid the groundwork for bigger wins in the future. We also succeeded in exposing the Senate Republicans’ obstructionism and far-right priorities through the press and social media.

Fiscal Outlook: Ranking the States

The states that were at the bottom of the ranking are generally states that have a high amount of debt or unfunded pension obligations, and OPEB [other post-employment benefits] liabilities, relative to state personal income. Washington State ranks 23rd.

Hill Becomes GOP Star After Long Session

As state Sen. Andy Hill stuck to his message over months of budget negotiations — new taxes only as a last resort — he watched the Democrats’ revenue proposals melt away. In the end, even several tax exemptions closed in the new $38.2 billion state operating budget — a compromise made with Democrats to raise some revenue — were chosen by Republicans. A 53-year-old, soccer-loving Harvard MBA and former Microsoft group manager from Redmond, Hill played the public face of the GOP message during the grueling, extended legislative season that ended Friday.

Senators Take Votes to Wrap Up Longest Legislative Session

Just enough Democrats changed their “no” votes to “yes” on Thursday to enable the Legislature to delay implementing Initiative I-1351’s school class sizes by four years. In return, the Senate Republicans held to their agreement to delay end-of-course biology testing requirements for high school graduation by two years. This also means the Senate’s work is done for the 2015 session. On Friday, the House is expected to pass the revamped testing bill plus two stalled long-range transportation projects bills.

Initiative 1351 Divides Senate Democrats

The Senate’s minority Democrats have been able to keep state lawmakers from making a quick exit after passing a budget, but they aren’t doing it as a united front. Negotiations to try to resolve the impasse were going on much of Tuesday.

Why State Democrats Held Up a Budget Deal Over I-1351

Amending an initiative requires a supermajority. Republicans needed Democratic votes, but because the solution wasn’t revealed to us until the last moment, our caucus didn’t have a chance to discuss the decision to delay it. We have members who are willing to vote to change the initiative, but we were clear with Senate Republicans about what that means: If we are going to pass a bill that is detrimental to kids, let’s do something significant to help them.

Senate Budget Breakdown Over 1-1351: Get Back to Work

State senators should reflect on whether they are truly free and independent of the WEA, which for too long has wagged the dog in Olympia and is now impeding bipartisan progress on fixing the school system’s unconstitutional inequities. Disappointingly, the Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Sharon Nelson of Maury Island and Deputy Leader Andy Billig of Spokane, reneged on a hard-won budget deal contingent on delaying the implementation of Initiative 1351.

Legislature Starts New Week in Same Old Mode

The Senate’s minority Democrats and majority Republicans confirmed Monday they have extended feelers to start talks on this latest deadlock. But both sides are currently in no-budging modes. At stake is an unexpected $2 billion hole in the state’s one-week-old $38.2 billion budget for 2015-2017.

Could Rule Changes Strengthen State’s Balance Budget Requirement?

Senate Democrats refusing to vote for the suspension of I-1351 (unfunded class size reduction) as assumed by the 4yr outlook that was part of the budget deal. Sen. Billig, however, said on the Senate floor the budget deal was only not to fund I-1351, not necessarily suspend it.