Tax Talk Back On Table, Governor Declares – Blames it on Supreme Court

Forget what he said last month – taxes are now a central issue for this year’s legislative session, declares Gov. Jay Inslee in his state of the state address. The Supreme Court made him do it. Though he did everything but mention the deadly T-word itself, he said the Legislature needs to comply with last week’s Supreme Court order that it write a plan to pay the $5 billion cost of its McCleary decision by April 30. A measure of the Legislature’s opinion on the subject came when Supreme Court justices were introduced at Tuesday’s joint session of House and Senate. James Johnson, author of a dissenting opinion, was cheered.

Session Set to Open in ‘Bizarro World’ – Supreme Court Decision Turns Everything Upside Down

For a few days last week, it looked like this was going to be a sleepy year at the statehouse, the long-expected transportation debate aside — and then the state Supreme Court issued an order dictating that the Legislature debate taxes this session. Suddenly lawmakers are supposed to figure out how to come up with $5 billion to fully fund education by the 2017-18 school year. It means a long-deferred debate on taxes may finally take place, but in the next few days we’ll find out whether there will be organized resistance to the court mandate. And does anyone now think the session will really wrap in 60 days?

Indian Tribal Gas-Tax Suit on its Way Back, at a Most Inconvenient Time for Legislature’s Transportation Debate

It probably couldn’t have happened at a worse time for the Legislature’s upcoming gas-tax debate, but the state’s independent service station operators are back in the state’s capital city with a long-running lawsuit that challenges the cut of fuel-tax money the state gives to Indian tribes. They’re asking the state Supreme Court to decide whether state gas-tax money can be used to pay Indian tribes for signing ‘compacts’ many believe were not necessary. Tim Hamilton’s gas-station group calls it a sweetheart deal, and if the court hears the case, the issue will surface right about the time voters may be deciding whether to raise their own gas taxes.

New Poll Shows Statewide Support for Coal Terminal, Big Opposition to Gas Tax Increase

A new poll shows voters statewide favor a coal terminal proposed for Longview 56-31, two-thirds oppose a gas-tax increase, and public confidence in the economy is on the decline. But maybe the most striking thing about the survey of voter mood statewide, released Friday by Gallatin Public Affairs and GS Strategy Group, is that for all the agitation over the last year for pro-environmental “progressive” policies, primarily from the greater Seattle area, the rest of the state just isn’t on the same page.

House Republicans Appear to Be Rallying Behind $85 Billion Budget Deal

Meanwhile, in a speech on the Senate floor, Reid dismissed the effort by House Democrats to extend unemployment benefits before the Christmas break, saying he would “push here after the first of the year for an extension of emergency unemployment insurance.”

Budget Deal Easing Spending Cuts Faces Republican Ire

Chief architects Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan in announcing the deal said that while imperfect, the plan would provide economic certainty by establishing a bipartisan budget for the first time in four years.

U.S. Senate Reaches Deal, House Will Vote First

The deal would also deliver back pay to furloughed federal workers, require income verification for people seeking health-insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and also allow the Treasury Department to use extraordinary measures to pay the nation’s bills if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling by Feb. 7.

Congress in Game of Chicken as Shutdown Looms

The high-stakes chess match in Congress will resume on Monday when the Democratic-controlled Senate reconvenes at 2 p.m. Senate Democrats will then attempt to strip two Republican amendments from the spending bill: the one that delays the 2010 healthcare law known as Obamacare and another to repeal a medical device tax that would help pay for the program.

Inslee Administration Communicates via 140-Character Haiku – Holds ‘Twitter Town Hall’ on New Strategic Plan

Complicated Topics Boiled Down and Abbreviated– One-Sentence Communication Might be Biggest Innovation of All

Gov. Inslee’s staff embraces the brave new world of Twitter for a forum on one of the most complicated ideas in ages, an ambitious goal-setting program for the state that takes performance-measurement down to the nitty-gritty level. And with a 140-character-limit, the discussion had every bit as much depth as you might expect. Inslee touts the plan as innovation, but maybe the most innovative idea of all is that such things can be discussed one sentence at a time, with a hashtag attached.

Detroit and the Special-Interest State

Capture by faction has become endemic. As government has grown and budgets and regulatory empires have expanded, economic and ideological factions have carved off satrapies in the agencies and congressional subcommittees.