Trump Insanity on Methane

 

Trump is pushing weakening rules regarding trying to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

The New York Times in Sept noted that:

“The Trump administration, taking its third major step this year to roll back federal efforts to fight climate change, is preparing to make it significantly easier for energy companies to release methane into the atmosphere.
Methane, which is among the most powerful greenhouse gases, routinely leaks from oil and gas wells, and energy companies have long said that the rules requiring them to test for emissions were costly and burdensome.”

A recent article in Reuters noted that:

“Methane, the primary component of natural gas, leaks from oil and gas wells during drilling. It accounts for 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and has more than 80 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it escapes into the atmosphere.
The oil and gas sector is the largest single source of U.S. methane emissions, according to EPA data.”

The Washington Post  pointed out that :

“A new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, written by Solomon and colleagues Kirsten Zickfeld of Simon Fraser University and Daniel Gilford of MIT, underscores the fact that even greenhouse gases that don’t last long in the atmosphere — methane, for instance — can have centuries-long impacts on the expanding oceans. So although the atmospheric warming they cause may taper off comparatively quickly after their emissions are halted, their effects in the oceans are much longer-lived.”

Members of the public have until Dec 15, 2018 to respond opposing the weakening of the rules on methane.

Urge that they do not weaken rules to reduce methane emissions but look at ways to further reduce emissions. Short term “profits” while producing long term climate change impacts is a bad deal.

Go to the website to submit comments on The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Proposed Rule: Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Reconsideration

Click on Comment Now.

Indivisible – Moving Beyond the 2018 Election

The following is an excerpt from a November 9, 2018 article in the New Yorker entitled Indivisible, an Early Anti-Trump Group, Plans for a Democratic Future by Obysita Nwanevu.   You can read the full article by clicking on the link.

Indivisible’s ideas for what Democrats should do with their new House majority begin with what Levin and Greenberg call a democracy agenda: a new voting-rights act in response to Republican voter suppression, along with larger reforms to the federal government, including statehood for Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

“A healthy democratic body would’ve rejected Trump the same way a healthy body rejects a virus,” Levin said. “That didn’t happen. And it didn’t happen because of a conscious effort by conservatives that is decades old to undermine democracy—disenfranchising young people and communities of color in order to entrench their power. And the way that we get all the nice things we want, whether it’s environment or taxes or immigration or reproductive rights, is by fixing the system so it actually responds to the will of the people.”

Of course, none of this will happen under Trump. But Levin and Greenberg say that Democrats should start building support for these ideas and crafting a long-term policy agenda now. “This is the time when you have those conversations within the Party,” Greenberg said. “So that, when you’re actually in power, you’re ready to go and you have a consensus solidified around the approach.”

She added, “You’re going to have to move beyond ‘We’re the party that cares about preëxisting conditions.’ ‘We’re the party that doesn’t want things to get worse’ is not an acceptable message for 2020.”

Re-elect Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez is on the November 2018 ballot. He is running for re-election. The media has paid very little attention to this race. As a result many voters do not know who he is. He is running against an opponent who has been rated as unqualified. A statewide poll earlier this year commissioned  by the Northwest Progressive Institute noted that the public was not familiar with either of the candidates.

The following e-mail was sent out by the Friends of Steve Gonzalez Committee. We are reprinting it here for your benefit. Please vote for Justice Gonzalez.

I have sent this message out to my contact list in support of Justice Steve Gonzalez and ask that you consider doing the same. I am concerned about the recently released poll showing that most voters are uninformed about the race. Every vote counts, and we know that the most effective means of getting people to vote is a message from someone they trust.

I strongly urge you to vote to retain Justice Steve Gonzalez on Washington’s Supreme Court. His reputation as a trial judge and a Supreme Court justice is outstanding. Justice Gonzalez is smart, thoughtful and hardworking, He devotes himself to serving the public, first doing the work of a justice, and also speaking to community groups, mentoring students and younger attorneys, and teaching civics to young people.

Justice Gonzalez is a man of unquestioned integrity, and a devoted husband and father. He has presented himself to all of the bar associations in the state and has been rated exceptionally well qualified by each of them. Before becoming a judge, he prosecuted terrorism, hate crimes and domestic violence. He also was a business attorney and worked for free for people who could not pay.

In sharp contrast, his opponent has no judicial experience, and has avoided ratings by bar association and legal rating organizations. He is being sued by the Attorney General for campaign finance violations and was found by the King County Bar Association to have violated its Fair Campaign Guidelines.

Please vote to retain Justice Steve Gonzalez on our Supreme Court. Washington needs his experience, dedication to fairness and his good judgment.

Please forward this information to your contact list and share the post on Facebook to ensure we have a strong, trustworthy Justice re-elected to Washington’s Supreme Court.

My best,

Judge Deborah Fleck (Ret.)

King County Superior Court

Paid for by Friends of Justice Gonzalez
Friends of Justice Gonzalez
603 Stewart St, #819
Seattle WA 98101 United States
additional information links:
Supreme Court Challenger Leads in Poll, Runs From Camera – KIRO7, Essex Porter, October 26, 2018
Campaign limitations, racial biases, and a Washington State Supreme Court race, Washington State Wire, Sara Gentzler, October 29, 2018

Updating Washington State RCW’s to remove 2/3 vote to raise taxes

Dear Representative Javier Valdez,

Thanks for agreeing to look into this and push to update the current RCW’s to reflect the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 that it is unconstitutional to require a 2/3 vote as needed for the Legislature to raise taxes. It is amazing that 5 years after the Washington State Supreme Court ruled, that the RCW’s have not been updated.  Anyone looking at them to get guidance on Washington State law would assume that the 2/3 vote is still required to raise taxes. One has to wonder how many other Washington State laws have not been updated to reflect Washington State Supreme Court decisions.

I would urge Representative Pollet and Senator Frockt to join you in an effort to update our RCW’s to reflect current law and remove language that has been declared unconstitutional by our Washington State Supreme Court. I know they support this effort and Senator Frockt was instrumental in helping to get the Washington State Supreme Court decision  but 5 years is a long time since the Supreme Court declared the 2/3 vote requirement as unconstitutional.

Thanks again.

Steve Zemke

https://q13fox.com/2013/02/28/state-supreme-court-overturns-23-vote-to-increase-taxes/

http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article26261110.html

Here is what comes up when I searched for current RCW:

https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=43.135.034

RCW 43.135.034

 Tax legislation—Two-thirds approval—Referral to voters—Conditions and restrictions—Ballot title—Declarations of emergency—Taxes on intangible property—Expenditure limit to reflect program cost shifting or fund transfer.

 (1)(a) Any action or combination of actions by the legislature that raises taxes may be taken only if approved by a two-thirds vote in both the house of representatives and the senate. Pursuant to the referendum power set forth in Article II, section 1(b) of the state Constitution, tax increases may be referred to the voters for their approval or rejection at an election.

(b) For the purposes of this chapter, “raises taxes” means any action or combination of actions by the state legislature that increases state tax revenue deposited in any fund, budget, or account, regardless of whether the revenues are deposited into the general fund.
(2)(a) If the legislative action under subsection (1) of this section will result in expenditures in excess of the state expenditure limit, then the action of the legislature may not take effect until approved by a vote of the people at a November general election. The state expenditure limit committee must adjust the state expenditure limit by the amount of additional revenue approved by the voters under this section. This adjustment may not exceed the amount of revenue generated by the legislative action during the first full fiscal year in which it is in effect. The state expenditure limit must be adjusted downward upon expiration or repeal of the legislative action.
(b) The ballot title for any vote of the people required under this section must be substantially as follows:
“Shall taxes be imposed on . . . . . . . in order to allow a spending increase above last year’s authorized spending adjusted for personal income growth?”
(3)(a) The state expenditure limit may be exceeded upon declaration of an emergency for a period not to exceed twenty-four months by a law approved by a two-thirds vote of each house of the legislature and signed by the governor. The law must set forth the nature of the emergency, which is limited to natural disasters that require immediate government action to alleviate human suffering and provide humanitarian assistance. The state expenditure limit may be exceeded for no more than twenty-four months following the declaration of the emergency and only for the purposes contained in the emergency declaration.
(b) Additional taxes required for an emergency under this section may be imposed only until thirty days following the next general election, unless an extension is approved at that general election. The additional taxes expire upon expiration of the declaration of emergency. The legislature may not impose additional taxes for emergency purposes under this subsection unless funds in the education construction fund have been exhausted.
(c) The state or any political subdivision of the state may not impose any tax on intangible property listed in RCW 84.36.070 as that statute exists on January 1, 1993.
(4) If the cost of any state program or function is shifted from the state general fund to another source of funding, or if moneys are transferred from the state general fund to another fund or account, the state expenditure limit committee, acting pursuant to RCW43.135.025(5), must lower the state expenditure limit to reflect the shift. For the purposes of this section, a transfer of money from the state general fund to another fund or account includes any state legislative action taken that has the effect of reducing revenues from a particular source, where such revenues would otherwise be deposited into the state general fund, while increasing the revenues from that particular source to another state or local government account. This subsection does not apply to: (a) The dedication or use of lottery revenues under RCW 67.70.240(1)(c), in support of education or education expenditures; (b) a transfer of moneys to, or an expenditure from, the budget stabilization account; or (c) a transfer of money to, or an expenditure from, the connecting Washington account established in RCW46.68.395.
(5) If the cost of any state program or function and the ongoing revenue necessary to fund the program or function are shifted to the state general fund on or after January 1, 2007, the state expenditure limit committee, acting pursuant to RCW 43.135.025(5), must increase the state expenditure limit to reflect the shift unless the shifted revenue had previously been shifted from the general fund.
2015 3rd sp.s. c 44 § 421; 2013 c 1 § 2 (Initiative Measure No. 1185, approved November 6, 2012); 2011 c 1 § 2 (Initiative Measure No. 1053, approved November 2, 2010).]
NOTES:
Effective date—2015 3rd sp.s. c 44: See note following RCW 46.68.395.
Intent—2013 c 1 (Initiative Measure No. 1185): “This initiative should deter the governor and the legislature from sidestepping, suspending, or repealing any of Initiative 1053’s policies which voters approved by a huge margin in 2010. The people insist that tax increases receive either two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval and fee increases receive a simple majority vote. These important policies ensure that taxpayers will be protected and that taking more of the people’s money will always be an absolute last resort.” [2013 c 1 § 1 (Initiative Measure No. 1185, approved November 6, 2012).]
Construction—2013 c 1 (Initiative Measure No. 1185): “The provisions of this act are to be liberally construed to effectuate the intent, policies, and purposes of this act.” [2013 c 1 § 7 (Initiative Measure No. 1185, approved November 6, 2012).]
Short title—2013 c 1 (Initiative Measure No. 1185): “This act is known and may be cited as “Save The 2/3’s Vote For Tax Increases (Again) Act.”” [2013 c 1 § 9 (Initiative Measure No. 1185, approved November 6, 2012).]
Contingent effective date—2011 c 1 §§ 2 and 3 (Initiative Measure No. 1053): “Sections 2 and 3 of this act take effect if, during the 2010 legislative session, the legislature amends or repeals RCW 43.135.035.” [2011 c 1 § 9 (Initiative Measure No. 1053, approved November 2, 2010).]
Intent—2011 c 1 (Initiative Measure No. 1053): “This initiative should deter the governor and the legislature from sidestepping, suspending, or repealing any of Initiative 960’s policies in the 2010 legislative session. But regardless of legislative action taken during the 2010 legislative session concerning Initiative 960’s policies, the people intend, by the passage of this initiative, to require either two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval for tax increases and majority legislative approval for fee increases. These important policies ensure that taking more of the people’s money will always be an absolute last resort.” [2011 c 1 § 1 (Initiative Measure No. 1053, approved November 2, 2010).]
Construction—2011 c 1 (Initiative Measure No. 1053): “The provisions of this act are to be liberally construed to effectuate the intent, policies, and purposes of this act.” [2011 c 1 § 6 (Initiative Measure No. 1053, approved November 2, 2010).]
Short title—2011 c 1 (Initiative Measure No. 1053): “This act shall be known and cited as Save The 2/3’s Vote For Tax Increases Act of 2010.” [2011 c 1 § 8 (Initiative Measure No. 1053, approved November 2, 2010).]

 

WA Dept of Natural Resources Prevails in Toxic Cleanup Court Fight

Washington voters in 1988 passed Initiative 97 to require polluters, not taxpayers, to pay for cleaning up toxic waste.  Volunteers collected some 215,505 signatures of registered voters on Initiative 97 – as initiative to the legislature. The legislature put a weaker alternative 97-B on the ballot. Voters by a wide margin passed I-97 and not the Legislature’s version. I-97 put in place a .7% toxic substances tax that is still state law today as the Model Toxics Control Act.

Below is the News Release released today by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources

News Release
MAY 24, 2018

Washington Supreme Court sides with state’s Department of Natural Resources

OLYMPIA – Today, in its Pope Resources decision, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and held that the polluting company alone, not the state, is liable for millions of dollars of environmental cleanup costs under the state’s Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA).

Between 1853 and 1995, sawmill operations were present in Port Gamble Bay, which were operated by Pope Resources (and its predecessor) beginning in 1890. From 1974 to 1995, DNR leased a small portion of Port Gamble Bay to Pope Resources/Olympic Property Group. The operation of the sawmill resulted in deposition of wood waste and wood debris and accumulation of creosote treated pilings. Collectively, these materials resulted in contamination of the tidelands and bedlands of the bay.

In today’s decision, the Supreme Court found that DNR is not an owner or operator of the Port Gamble facility within the meaning of MTCA. This means that Pope Resources/Olympic Property Group alone, not DNR and Washington taxpayers, are liable for environmental cleanup costs at this site under MTCA.

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz issued the following statement:

“This is a victory for Washington’s taxpayers over corporate polluters. I applaud the Washington State Supreme Court for holding owners and operators responsible for the pollution that occurs on their watch. This is consistent with the Model Toxics Control Act’s goal of ensuring that polluters pay for the environmental damage they cause.”

MEDIA CONTACT

Carlo Davis
Communications Director
360-902-1101

360-999-9165 (cell)
carlo.davis@dnr.wa.gov

*Majority Rules Note – Steve Zemke, who maintains this site, Majority Rules, was  the campaign director during the signature phase of this initiative effort. The signatures were collected by all volunteers, not by paid signature gatherers as is usually the current practice.

Way Past Time to Pass the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution

It is disgraceful that the United States still has not passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.  Now in the Trump ERA seems the right time to renew the push to pass the ERA.  It is the right time to mobilize the American people and the energy and outrage at the backward efforts by Trump and the GOP to dismantle many safeguards and efforts of our country  to better the life of our citizens.  It is a question of human dignity and equality to say that All Americans regardless of sex shall be treated equally under the law.

As the New York Times write in an editorial entitled “The Equal Rights Amendment Returns”:

Having a sexist in the Oval Office who curries favor with conservative religious groups is having dire consequences. Health workers in developing nations are preparing for a rise in unsafe abortions due to President Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule that prohibits federal funding of groups that provide abortion services or referrals. Here at home, his administration has been hostile not only to abortion access, but even to birth control.

But Mr. Trump’s presidency is also having some effects he probably doesn’t intend. Rage at the election of a man who boasted about grabbing women’s genitals helped set off the #MeToo movement’s reckoning with sexual misconduct. A record number of women are running for office around the country, many of them announcing their candidacies after participating in women’s marches the day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

And now, on Mr. Trump’s watch, feminists could reach a goal nearly a century in the making, and that many assumed would never come to pass — ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. It states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Congress passed the ERA on March 22, 1972.  Three quarters of the states are needed to ratify a Constitutional Amendment. According to Wikipedia 36 states have voted to ratify the ERA.  Nevada did so in 2017.. Illinois is moving to becomes the 37th, with their Senate voting YES on  April 11, 2018 by a 43 to 12 vote.

As the New York Times article pointed out there are strong arguments to continue the fight to pass the ERA:

Looking at everything the E.R.A. would not do raises the question of why it’s still needed. Here’s why it is: The court decisions that make up the “de facto E.R.A.” can be undone in a way a constitutional amendment cannot. The E.R.A. would add an extra layer of legal protection for women — and men — against discrimination. This could become especially important if Mr. Trump gets to pick additional conservative Supreme Court justices.

There’s also a symbolic and emotional element to this fight that’s not to be discounted. Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who, before becoming a Supreme Court justice, fought many legal battles over gender discrimination and is a longtime supporter of the E.R.A. — summed up this argument in 2014.

“I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion — that women and men are persons of equal stature,” she said. “I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”

Enshrining women’s rights in the Constitution matters. Doing so now, during this presidency, would be particularly fitting.

This is an issue that needs action and is long overdue.  States that have in the past voted in one House but not both include Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia. If Illinois does pass it then only one more state is needed. Maybe Virginia is a strong possibility with their recent change in their Legislature.

 

 

Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountabiliy Act – SB 5513

Testimony in support of SB 5513 – the Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountability Act

Washington State Senate Ways and Means Committee, Jan. 18, 2018

Steve Zemke – Tax Sanity

 Thank you for this opportunity to testify on this legislation.

This is the fifth year this bill has been before you and each year it picks up additional support.  Senate SB 5513 has 14 sponsors and its companion bill in the House, HB 1500, has 33 sponsors. This is almost one third of our state Legislators.  

 Legislation to create a Tax Expenditure Budget has been increasingly supported by numerous groups in our state, including the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, All in for Washington, the Washington State Labor Council, the League of Women Voters of Washington, Washington’s Paramount Duty, the Washington State Democratic Party, the Washington Education Association, SEIU 775, Northwest Progressive Institute, Washington Federation of State Employees, Washington State Council of Firefighters, Faith Action Network, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action,  and others

 Why are these groups supporting this legislation? Because they believe that a system of tax expenditures that gives away more in revenue from the tax base than it collects is a broken system.  They believe that tax exemptions need transparency and accountability and fairness. That does not exist now.

 Tax Exemptions, preferences, deductions, credits, and deferrals are off budget expenditures. They lack the transparency and accountably that exists for other expenditures the state makes as part of the biennial budget process. According to the Department of Revenue’s projection in their 2016 Tax Exemption Report for the 2015 to 2017 biennium they projected that while the state would collect some $7.4 billion in B&O taxes, they would exempt from the same tax base some $11.4 billion. This gap has widened since the last biennium.

Including the rest of the tax exemptions in their report, the Department of Revenue projected that off budget tax expenditures would total almost $40 billion while only collecting revenue totaling some $32.6 billion.

 Of the 694 tax exemptions in that report about 450 are discretionary.  The Department of Revenue projected that in the 2017 to 2019 Biennium that of the $54 billion in projected tax expenditures, some $30 billion would fall into “potential revenue gains”. 

 This legislation does not mandate wholesale repeal of tax expenditures.  It asks for accountability and transparency and biennial review and gives the legislature the ability to act to end exemptions if they do not meet the priorities of government the same as expenditures in the regular biennial operating appropriations budget must.

 Concern about the current system includes a quickly dated Tax Exemption report by the Department of Revenue that is only updated once every 4 years.  Most other states in the country update their report every 2 years or less. California updates their Tax Expenditure report every year.

Companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, Expedia, Adobe and Boeing all must report to their stockholders every year and issue quarterly profit and loss statements.  Their financial statements are scrutinized by their stockholders. It does not make sense that Washington State only updates its Tax Exemption Report every 4 years. It will next be updated in 2020. It should at a minimum be updated two years just as the state biennial budget is..

Only 73 of the 694 listed exemptions in the 2016 Tax Exemption Report have sunset provisions. This means 89% of the tax expenditures have no sunset provision and never require the Washington State legislature to ever vote on them again. Meanwhile all expenditures in the regular operating appropriations budget are scrutinized and voted on every 2 years with adjustment made in the 2nd year of the biennium.

 Also in the Tax exemption report, 54 exemptions are listed as “unable to disclose” the amount of revenue involved.  Businesses and other entities are benefiting from state tax law in getting exemptions and lower or no taxes. The public has a right to know the value of these exemptions. 

The public has a right to know that these exemptions are creating jobs or providing valuable services to Washington State citizens just as they expect expenditures in the regular budget appropriations bill to produce.

  We require that accountability in the regular budget appropriations process – we don’t say we’re spending state revenue but the public doesn’t have the right to know because the recipient doesn’t want us to know what they are getting.

 With the current lack of accountability and transparency and sound fiscal review and evaluation as to whether current tax expenditures meet the state priorities of government and have clear measurable objectives as to their effectiveness in meeting state needs, taxpayers and citizens in this state increasingly believe state government and the legislature are not doing their job.

.Please step up and vote to fix this broken tax expenditure system that severely lacks needed transparency, accountability and sound fiscal management of our total state budget.

 Steve Zemke

 Director Tax Sanity

steve@taxsanity.org

www.taxsanity.org

First Day Results for August 1, 2017 WA Primary – Legislative Races

Preliminary Results August 1, 2017 Primary – Washington State  Special Legislative races

Legislative District 7 – State Senator

Karen Hardy (D)     7,585    32.74%

Shelly Short (R)     15,579     67.26%

Legislative District 7 –  State Representative Position 1

Susan Swanson (D)     7,849     34.04%

Jacqueline Mayamber (R)      15,211     65.96%

Legislative District 31 – Senator

Michele Rylands (D)     6,331     41.45%

Phil Fortunato (R)     8,942     58.55%

Legislative District 31 –  State Representative Position 2 

Nate Lowry (D)     6,548     43.12%

Morgan Irwin (R)     8,636     56.88%

Legislative District 37 – State Senator

Rebecca Saldana (D)     12,356

Legislative District 45 – State Senator

Parker Harris (I)     1.620     6.86%

Jinyoung Lee England (R)     10,052     42.59%

Manka Dhingra (D)     11,9928     50.54%

Legislative District 48 – State Senator

Richard Knierim     (I)     2,284     15.98%

Patty Kuderer (D)     8,628     60.36%

Michelle Darnell (L)     3.392     23.66%

Legislative District 48 – State Representative Position 1

Vandana Slatter (D)     10,649     76.6%

Ciaran Dougherty (L)     3,253     23.4%

Updated results will be available from WA Secretary of State’s website          August 2, 2017 4:30 PM

Republican Senators in Washington State Legislature Block Passage of Capital Budget

Joint statement from Seattle State Senators last night

David Frockt       Reuven Carlyle  Jamie Pedersen Rebecca Saldana

Marilyn Chase Bob Hasegawa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — July 20, 2017
Failure to pass capital budget will hit Seattle communities hard
OLYMPIA — Seattle area state senators warned today that the Senate’s failure to pass a capital budget will have dramatic effects on proposed investments for the Seattle area in K-12 education, community colleges, housing and health care, including mental health, among other critical needs.
Though capital budget projects around the state were agreed to by Democratic and Republican negotiators on Tuesday, Senate Republicans continued to insist that a separate water rights bill be resolved first before they would agree to vote on the budget and its corresponding bonds. As a result, the Legislature adjourned from its third special session with no action on this vital budget that historically makes critical investments in Washington’s future.
The negotiated $4 billion dollar budget would have created thousands of jobs in all parts of Washington, including throughout the Seattle area.
The budget provided state matching funds for over $1 billion in school construction projects already approved at the local level, including at least $35 million for schools in Seattle, $15 million for Lake Washington School District and $8 million for Edmonds School District among others. Additionally, the budget provided for hundreds of millions of dollars in buildings for the higher education system from community colleges in this region to the University of Washington. At UW, the budget provided matching funds for the Burke Museum as well as the new Population Health Science building, leveraging the UW’s partnership with the Gates Foundation to make Seattle the world leader in global health. There was an additional $40 million to UW for advanced materials and clean energy test beds, the Evans School’s Parrington Hall, and renovation of the Medical School’s Health Sciences T-Wing.
The agreed-upon budget would have provided over $100 million for the Housing Trust Fund, including investments in local housing projects through innovative modular housing and tiny home projects to a new workforce housing development in Mt. Baker. It contained a first-of-its-kind investment in Community Health Centers to address Washington’s ongoing dental health crisis for the poor, who often lack access to dentists and wind up in local emergency rooms.
The budget would have built on the state mental health system by providing new facilities in a number of regions where the lack of treatment options is acute and where the state is under court order to find remedies. It would have invested in critical water infrastructure and flood control projects east of the mountains while also providing record investments in stormwater controls and conservation and restoration in the Puget Sound area.
“Having negotiated for the Senate Democratic Caucus and having reached across the aisle to reach an agreement on all of the proposed expenditures, I am very disappointed that this budget agreement was essentially held hostage to a resolution of a separate water rights bill,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle. “I recognized that that was an important issue, but the fact is we just ended the longest session in Washington State history without a new biennial capital budget for the first time in decades. These two issues – the budget and the water rights bill — need to be delinked for the good of the entire state. That is what we are supposed to be doing. Regrettably, they weren’t delinked, even though there were solutions on the table that would have provided immediate relief for rural property owners to dig wells.”
“The governor has indicated an openness to a continued effort to resolve this impasse so that these critical investments in Washington can be made. I will continue to work with him and with both parties to get this budget passed and funded.” Said Frockt.
“The Senate Republicans have taken it upon themselves to deprive our community of important projects and economic development investments that our most vulnerable depend on,” said Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle. “From critical affordable housing for seniors and the homeless, to community and arts centers and parks, my constituents will feel the impact of the GOP’s inability to govern.”
“The failure of Senate Republican leadership to pass a capital budget is both disappointing and frustrating,” said Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle. “This reckless decision will prevent investments in schools, community healthcare, and the arts and cost thousands of jobs.”
“The Republicans’ refusal to allow the passage of this budget, approved by all but one Republican in the other chamber, is nothing less than a dereliction of their duties as public servants,” said Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline. “They have committed to a course of action that will harm Washingtonians in every corner of our state.”
“Our infrastructure and quality of life will deteriorate, and all Washingtonians will share the pain to varying degrees,” said Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill. “It doesn’t make sense to hold a $4 billion jobs and infrastructure bill hostage for the right of developers to trump other people’s senior water rights.”
“I remain deeply committed to resolving this crisis, and finding a path forward in the weeks and months ahead,” said Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle “I was proud to have secured funding to reduce class sizes through school construction and am devastated the deal has fallen apart. I’m not giving up and will fight to secure these vital dollars. Our Seattle delegation is 100-percent on board to support a responsible capital investment budget.”
Had it passed, the budget would have funded these projects in in Saldaña’s 37th District:
 $3 million for Othello Homesight;
 $3 million for Aging in PACE;
 $2 million for Valley City Recovery Place;
 $1.5 million for the Amara Building;
 $1.3 million for the Multicultural Community Center in Seattle;
 $1.1 million to clean up Mt. Baker Properties for new housing;
 $750,000 for the Georgetown Steam Plant Historic Steam Plant;
 $737,000 for El Centro e la Raza;
 $600,000 for the Filipino Community Innovation Center;
 $520,000 to expand Pratt’s Campus
 $400,000 for Washington Care Services;
 $400,000 for Ethiopian Community Affordable Senior Housing;
 $360,000 for the Cherry Street Fellowship;
 $315,000 for Children’s Playgarden;
 $250,000 to increase dental clinic capacity via the Seattle Indian Health Board;
 $200,000 for the Seattle Indian Health Board; and
 $141,000 for the Mount Baker Community Club.

In Pedersen’s 43rd District, the budget would have funded:
 $1.855 million for the Country Doctor Community Health Centers;
 $1.5 million in renovations to the Asian Art Museum;
 $1.5 million for the Campaign for Town Hall;
 $1.5 million in improvements to Hugo House;
 $1.3 million for Neighborcare;
 $1.1 million to the University YMCA;
 $750,000 for upgrades to the 5th Avenue Theater;
 $643,000 for preservation of the historic University Heights Center;
 $600,000 for University YMCA;
 $500,000 to purchase the Lambert House;
 $491,000 for upgrades to the Paramount Theatre;
 $475,000 for redevelopment of the Arboretum Waterfront Trail;
 $354,000 for the Cornish Playhouse;
 $257,000 for Lighthouse No. 83;
 $257,000 for Phase Three rehabilitation of the Stimson-Green Mansion Building;
 $75,000 for NW Choirs;
 $29,000 to replace the deck of the MV Lotus; and
 $21,000 for Nikkei Herigate.

In Chase’s 32nd District, the budget would have funded:
 $50 million for the Dept. of Ecology for leaking tank model remedies at the Strickland Chevron in Lynnwood;
 $37.7 million for the Edmonds Community College’s Science, Engineering, Technology Building;
 $3.5 million for Allied Health, Science & Manufacturing in Shoreline;
 $2.8 million for an addition to the Public Health Lab South Laboratory;
 $2.5 million for an addition to a Newborn Screening Wing;
 $2.2 million for the South Snohomish County Community Resource Center in Lynnwood; and
 $650,000 to increase dental clinic capacity at International Community Health Services in Shoreline.

In Hasagawa’s 11th District, the budget would have funded:
 $7.5 million via the Department of Ecology for Floodplains by Design;
 $3.5 million in construction loans for the Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station;
 $3.05 million for Sunset Neighborhood Park in Renton;
 $698,000 for roof repairs to the Museum of Flight;
 $500,000 to develop the Lake to Sound Trail;
 $500,000 for Geriatric Diversion;
 $412,000 for the Sunset Career Center in Renton;
 $11 million for conservation projects; and
 $2.6 million for Community and Technical College projects.

In Carlyle’s 36th District, the budget would have funded:
 $1.5 million for improvements to the Seattle Opera at the Center;
 $900,000 for improvements to Interbay PDAC;
 $400,000 in improvements to the Seattle Aquarium;
 $258,000 for renovations to the PONCHO Forum;
 $167,000 in improvements to the Millionair Club;
 $65,000 in improvements to the Seattle Opera; and
 $30,000 for renewal of the lower Yamasaki Courtyard.

In Frockt’s 46th District, the budget would have funded:
 $2 million for renovations at the Magnuson Community Center;
 $1.2 million for Lyon Creek Fish Barrier Removal at Lake Forest Park;
 $250,000 for improvements to Moorlands Park in Kenmore;
 $250,000 for improvement to the Kenmore Public Boathouse in Kenmore; and
 $75,000 for improvements to the St. Edward State Park Environmental Learning Center.

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A list of all statewide and local capital budget projects is available upon request.
For information: Rick Manugian, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7569

Help Fund Public Education Now by Ending Tax Exemptions as Off Budget Spending

END TAX EXEMPTIONS AS OFF-BUDGET SPENDING
BY ADDING THEM AS TAX EXPENDITURES TO THE STATE BUDGET!

Washington State currently gives away more revenue from its tax base than it collects. This is a broken tax system built up over many years.  

The Washington State Department of Revenue in their 2016 Tax Expenditure Report  projected for the 2015 -2017 biennium that off budget tax expenditures would total almost $40 billion while only collecting revenue totaling some $32.6 billion.

We don’t generally think of them as such but these tax exemptions, preferences, deductions, credits and deferrals are off budget expenditures. They lack the accountability and transparency that exists for other expenditures the state makes as part of the biennial budget process.

The Governor must as part of the biennial budget process evaluate all expenditures according to a Priorities of Government protocol. Unfortunately tax exemptions do not have the same criteria or scrutiny. The result is that while the state legislature is seemingly unable to comply with  the Washington State Supreme Court’s McCleary decision to fulfill Washington’s “paramount duty” under the Washington State Constitution to fund public education, it excludes from tax collection billions of dollars.

Taxpayers deserve better accountability and transparency of the state’s  tax and revenue system. They deserve to know who is receiving these tax exemptions, how much money is involved and for what reason they are given. They deserve to have a system that prioritizes state needs, not exemptions for special interests and the wealthy that benefit from a system where 90% of the exemptions have no sunset provision while the state budget has a biennial review and vote as to funding.

According to the Washington State Department of Revenue’s  2016 Tax Exemption Study, while the State expects to collect some $7.4 billion in B&O tax revenue in the current 2015 -2017 biennium, it exempts from collection some $11.4 billion. When sales and use taxes were included with the analysis, the results are similar – the state expects to collect some $18.9 billion in revenue from sales and use tax, while exempting some $16.9 billion in revenue

Washington State has created some 694 tax exemptions over the years. Over 450 of these are discretionary tax exemptions, not required by Federal or State constitutional law. These discretionary tax exemptions will account for over $28.3 billion in B &O and sales/use tax revenue not collected in the current biennium..

Including property tax exemptions the 2016 Department of Revenue Report projects that in total, Washington State will see as off budget tax expenditures almost $40 billion in tax exemptions this biennium while only collecting revenues of $32.6 billion for the Legislature to fund its biennial budget.

HB 1500 introduced by Rep.Pollet and 32 other sponsors would require the governor to propose and the state legislature to adopt a Tax Expenditure Budget every 2 years as part of the biennial omnibus operating appropriations act. A companion bill, SB 5513 has been introduced in the WA State Senate by Senator David Frockt with 12 other sponsors.

HB 1500 / SB 5513 would give the Washington State Legislature an opportunity to periodically evaluate the need and effectiveness of the state’s tax exemptions in meeting current state needs. They would do this at the same time they are making budget decisions about prioritizing other state expenditures for public services as part of the biennial budget appropriations process.

What would HB 1500 /SB 5513 – the Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountability Act do?

 This measure would require new and existing discretionary tax exemptions to be authorized every two years in a tax expenditure budget. It will add much needed transparency and accountability to the hundreds of exemptions and preferences, along with their cost and how each decision to spend money on an exemption or preference is a choice to expend funds for this purpose with particular beneficiaries.

The tax expenditure budget would detail the fiscal impact, purpose, and effectiveness in meeting the purpose of each tax exemption.

 Tax exemption not included in the tax expenditure budget would expire at the end of the calendar year in which the budget is adopted.

Contact your Legislators at www.leg.wa.org and urge them to support the Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountability Act.

 Action item – Urging your Legislators to pass HB 1500 and companion bill SB 5513 is easy. You can leave them a message by going to www.leg.wa.gov, entering 1500 or 5513 for the bill number after clicking the bill information link and then clicking on “comment on this bill.” Or call the Legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message to for your legislators and the Governor to support HB 1500 and SB 5513 to prioritize state spending, accountability and transparency by creating a Tax Expenditure Budget as part of the biennial budget appropriations process.

Be sure to thank your legislators if they are a sponsor of this legislation. Their support is appreciated. Legislators sponsoring HB 1500 – Pollet, Farrell, Appleton, Tarleton, Ryu, Wylie, Santos, Marci, Doglio, Jinkins, Orwall, Tharinger, Stonier, Kagi, Fitzgibbon, Kloba, Stanford, Berquist, McBride, Ortiz-Self, Goodman, Dolan, Cody, Pettigrew, Riccelli, Sells, Hudgins, Kirby, Lovick, Frame, Peterson, Ormsby, Pellicciotti

 Legislators sponsoring SB 5513 – Frockt, Hasegawa, Miloscia, Rolfes, Saldana, Keiser, Wellman, Conway, Chase, Billig, Kuderer, Hunt, McCoy

For more information:Contact Steve Zemke – Director Tax Sanity, Steve@taxsanity.org,  www.taxsanity.org,