Without Budget, State to Send Layoff Notices Soon

Washington state has never had a government shutdown. But the Legislature has taken its budget talks to the brink before, including two years ago, when Gov. Jay Inslee signed a budget June 30. State officials say more than 26,000 state employees would be affected by a government shutdown. Many notices will start going out Tuesday.

Imposing Income Tax for State Can Lead to Ruin

According to the Investor’s Business Daily, the seeds of Connecticut’s ongoing budget crisis date back to 1991, when then-Gov. Lowell Weicker Jr. introduced the state’s first-ever income tax as a new revenue source that would solve Connecticut’s budget woes for decades. But just the opposite happened. Spending soared after the politicians had access to a new cash cow of income tax receipts.

State Appeals Judge’s Order for Timely Mental-Competency Evaluations

Health officials said they are only appealing the portion that mandates competency evaluations within seven days of a judge’s order. They said one week was not enough time to allow some defendants who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs to stabilize. Evaluators send people to hospitals before their mental state is fully understood, officials said.

Who Gets Stuck Collecting Government Benefits?

Lots of Americans end up needing government assistance – Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers. And lots of them move off of it once they no longer need the help. From 2009 through 2012, the Census Bureau found that around 50 million people used these programs on average each month. And a big chunk of that group – nearly a third – spent less than a year collecting benefits. Around a quarter spent between 1-3 years. And 43 percent needed government aid for at least three years.

House Looks at Helping Arts, Disabilities Programs

The Washington House’s Finance Committee held a hearing on the bill Monday. A few dozen people — mostly from low-income housing and mental health interests — supported the bill. The Washington Retail Association and Washington Auto Dealers Association opposed the tax increases. The first clue to whether this bill has a chance of surviving the GOP-controlled Senate will be a yet-to-be-scheduled finance committee vote.

Senate Budget Negotiator: No Deal on Spending Level Yet

A Senate budget negotiator disputed statements made last week that indicated lawmakers had reached a tentative deal on the size of Washington state’s next two-year budget, saying Monday that the announcement was “premature.” Officials from the governor’s budget office have already released a contingency plan on what state offices may have to close completely if a budget isn’t signed into law before July 1, when the current two-year budget ends.

Vapor Product Tax, Raising Smoking Age Still Alive in Legislature

The House plan would limit sales of both vapor products and combustible tobacco products to those 19 and older. It also would impose a 45 percent excise tax on wholesale sales of e-cigarette cartridges and liquid nicotine bottles. Republican Sen. Bruce Dammeier, who introduced his own legislation this year, said he remains wary of tying those policy changes to a tax measure.