Category Archives: Washington State Legislature

End Tax Exemptions as Off Budget Spending by Adding Them to the State Budget

 End Tax Exemptions as Off-Budget Spending

by Adding Them as Tax Expenditures to the State Budget!

Washington State HB 1500 -the Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountability Act of 2017 will have a hearing in the State House Finance Committee on Tues. Jan 31st.  Please attend the hearing or comment on the bill on line at leg.wa.gov.

 Why is HB 1500 needed?

We don’t generally think of them as such but 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.

Taxpayers deserve to know who is receiving these tax exemptions, how much money is involved and for what reason they are given.

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 according to the Department of Revenue.

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 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 create a tax expenditure budget as part of the biennial budget appropriations process. And 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.orgwww.taxsanity.org,  

cross posted at TaxSanity.org

Washington Chapter Sierra Club 2016 General Election Endorsements

The Washington Chapter of the Sierra Club has made the following endorsements for the 2016 General Election ballot on November 8, 2016.

President – Hillary Clinton/Tim Kaine
US Senate – Patty Murray

US Representatives

  CD 1  Suzan DelBene
 CD 5  Joe Pakootas
 CD 6  Derek Kilmer
 CD  9  Adam Smith
CD 10  Denny Heck

Governor – Jay Inslee
Lieutenant Governor – Cyrus Habib
Attorney General – Bob Ferguson
Commissioner of Public Lands – Hilary Franz
Supreme Court Justice, Position #1 – Mary Yu
Supreme Court Justice, Position #5 – Barbara Madsen
Supreme Court Justice, Position #6 – Charles Wiggins

State Senate
State House
LD  1  Derek Stanford 
LD 1   Shelley Kloba 
LD 2  Amy Pivetta-Hoffman
LD 3  Marcus Riccelli                                                                                                                LD 3  Ormsby, Timm
LD 5  Darcy Burner
LD 10  Doris Brevoort
LD 11  Zack Hudgins
LD 11  Bergquist, Steve
LD 21  Strom Peterson
LD 21  Lillian Ortiz Self
LD 22  Laurie Dolan
LD 22 Beth Doglio
LD 23  Sherry Appleton
LD 23  Drew Hansen
LD 24  Mike Chapman
LD 24  Steve Tharinger
LD 25  Michelle Chatterton
LD 26  Larry Seaquist
LD 26 Randy Spitzer
LD 27  Laurie Jinkins
LD 27  Jake Fey
LD 28  Christine Kilduff
LD 28  Mari Leavitt
LD 29 Davis Sawyer
LD 29 Steve Kirby
LD 30  Mike Pellicciotti
LD 32  Cindy Ryu
LD 32  Ruth Kagi
LD 33  Tina Orwall
LD 33  Mia Gregerson
LD 34 Eileen Cody
LD 34  Joe Fitzgibbon
LD 35  Irene Bowling
LD 38  June Robinson
LD 38  Mike Sells
LD 39  Ronda Metcalf
LD 40  Kristine Lytton
LD 41  Tana Senn
LD 43  Frank Chopp
LD 43  Nicole Macri
LD 44  John Lovick
LD 45  Roger Goodman
LD 46  Gerry Pollet
LD 46  Jessyn Farrell
LD 47  Pat Sullivan
LD 48  Joan McBride
LD 49  Sharon Wylie
LD 49  Monica Stonier
LD 49  Alishia Topper
Clallam County Commissioner, District 2, Port Angeles – Ron Richards
Snohomish County Council – Hans Dunshee
Pierce County Executive – Rick Talbert
Pierce County Commissioner, District 2 – Carolyn Edmonds
Pierce County Commissioner, District 4 – Connie Ladenburg
Pierce County Commissioner, District 6 – Linda Farmer
Thurston County Commissioner, District 1 – Jim Cooper
Thurston County Commissioner, District 2 – Kelsey Hulse

 

Washington Conservation Voters 2016 General Election Endorsements for Legislature

The Washington Conservation Voters works to “elect environmentally responsible candidates” in Washington State. Below is their list of candidates for the Washington State Legislature they think will be leaders in protecting the environment. Additional statewide endorsements and ballot measures endorsements can be seen on their endorsement page.

Washington Conservation Voters     General Election Endorsements                     Washington State LEGISLATIVE RACES 2016

1st District
Senate: Guy Palumbo
House Position 1: Derek Stanford
House Position 2: Shelley Kloba
3rd District
Senate: Andy Billig
House Position 1: Marcus Riccelli
House Position 2: Timm Ormsby
5th District
Senate: Mark Mullet
House Position 1: Jason Ritchie
House Position 2: Darcy Burner
6th District
House Position 1: Lynnette Vehrs
10th District
Senate: Angie Homola
House Position 2: Doris Brevoort
11th District
Senate: Robert Hasegawa
House Position 1: Zachary Hudgins
House Position 2: Steven Bergquist
17th District
Senate: Tim Probst
House Position 1: Sam Kim
21st District
House Position 1: Strom Peterson
House Position 2: Lillian Ortiz-Self
22nd District
Senate: Sam Hunt
House Position 1: Laurie Dolan
House Position 2: Beth Doglio
23rd District
Senate: Christine Rolfes
House Position 1: Sherry Appleton
House Position 2: Drew Hansen
24th District
Senate: Kevin Van De Wege
House Position 1: Mike Chapman
House Position 2: Stephen Tharinger
25th District
House Position 2: Michelle Chatterton
26th District
House Position 1: Larry Seaquist
House Position 2: Randy Spitzer
27th District
Senate: Jeannie Darneille
House Position 1: Laurie Jinkins
House Position 2: Jacob Fey
28th District
Senate: Marisa Peloquin
House Position 1: Mari Leavitt
House Position 2: Christine Kilduff
29th District
House Position 1: David Sawyer
House Position 2: Steven Kirby
30th District
House Position 1: Michael Pellicciotti
House Position 2: Kristine Reeves
32nd District
House Position 1: Cindy Ryu
House Position 2: Ruth Kagi
33rd District
House Position 1: Tina Orwall
House Position 2: Mia Su-Ling Gregerson
34th District
House Position 1: Eileen Cody
House Position 2: Joseph Fitzgibbon
35th District
House Position 1: Irene Bowling
House Position 2: Craig Patti
36th District
Senate: Reuven Carlyle
House Position 1: Noel Frame
House Position 2: Gael Tarleton
37th District
House Position 1: Sharon Tomiko Santos
House Position 2: Eric Pettigrew
38th District
House Position 1: June Robinson
House Position 2: Michael Sells
40th District
Senate: Kevin Ranker
House Position 1: Kristine Lytton
House Position 2: Jeffrey Morris
41st District
House Position 1: Tana Senn
House Position 2: Judith Clibborn
42nd District
House Position 1: Sharlaine LaClair
43rd District
House Position 1: Nicole Macri
House Position 2: Frank Chopp
44th District
House Position 1: John Lovick
House Position 2: Katrina Ondracek
45th District
House Position 1: Roger Goodman
House Position 2: Lawrence Springer
46th District
House Position 1: Gerald Pollet
House Position 2: Jessyn Farrell
47th District
House Position 2: Patrick Sullivan
48th District
House Position 1: Patricia Kuderer
House Position 2: Joan McBride
49th District
Senate: Annette Cleveland
House Position 1: Sharon Wylie
House Position 2: Alishia Topper

King County Democrats Endorsements 2016

Ballot Measures

  • Initiative 735: YES
  • Initiative 1515: NO/Decline to sign
  • Seattle Prop. 1 (Housing): YES

Candidates

Time for Automatic Voter Registration in Washington State

Washington State is now the laggard in automatic voter registration on the west coast. Oregon took the first step setting up automatic voter registration when voters apply for a driver’s license. And now California has followed suit.  Two east coast states have also passed automatic voter registration in 2016 – Vermont and West Virginia.

Just over a year ago on March 17, 2015 Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed HB 2177 making Oregon the first state in the nation to automatically register Oregon residents to also be voters when they either renew or first apply for an Oregon driver’s license or state identification card.

As the LA Times noted:

“Those who are registered through the new process will be notified by mail and will be given three weeks to take themselves off the voting rolls. If they do not opt out, the secretary of state’s office will mail them a ballot automatically 20 days before any election.”

NPR reported that Governor Gerry Brown in October 2015 signed their “New  Motor Voter Act” joining Oregon to register voters automatically when they either renew or get a new driver’s license or California state identification card.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a press release stated that:

“In a free society, the right to vote is fundamental. …

“Citizens should not be required to opt-in to their fundamental right to vote,” Padilla added. “We do not have to opt-in to other rights, such as free speech or due process. The right to vote should be no different,” Padilla added.

“The New Motor Voter Act will make voter registration a seamless process and result in the largest sustained voter registration drive in our nation’s history. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the federal Voting Rights Act, Governor Brown has affirmed California’s commitment to strengthening voting rights. It is not lost on me that many states are restricting voting rights with the clear goal of preventing citizens from voting. I am proud that California is again demonstrating leadership and providing a shining example of how our nation can and should expand access to the polls,” Padilla added.”

Two legislative bills were introduced in Washington State in 2016.  As reported by the HeraldNet:

Two measures, SB 6379 and HB 2682, would automatically register people who aren’t on the voter rolls but already have or apply for an enhanced driver’s license or commercial driver’s licenses. Those who receive social services that verify citizenship or get health insurance through the state health exchange also would be automatically registered. The measure would take effect Jan. 1, 2017, and be retroactive so that unregistered voters who already have the specialized driver licenses or benefits would have their information sent to the Secretary of State’s Office, which would notify them that they can opt out. If the potential voter doesn’t respond, he or she will be automatically registered within 60 days.

Unfortunately the Washington State Legislature did not enact this legislation. HB 2682  passed in the House but died in the Senate Rules Committee. The Senate is controlled by the Republicans who do not support legislation to make it easier for people to vote. SB 6379 did not get voted out of the Senate Committee it originated in.
Inaction on bills like this is a reason for people to vote Democratic. Republicans are not interested in increasing voter participation but have a nationwide track record of voter suppression making it difficult for many people to vote. It is unfortunately no different in Washington State.

Comparing Signature Gathering Costs on Initiatives 732 and 735

In Washington State in 2015, two different initiative campaigns are gathering signatures for initiatives to the legislature in 2016. The two campaigns are Initiative 732 by Carbon Washington for a carbon tax and Initiative 735 by WAmend to amend the US Constitution to overturn the corporate “Citizens United” decision by the US Supreme Court. Both campaigns started in 2015 collecting signatures in April and May.  The final deadline to file all signatures is December 31, 2015. This report details initial costs for getting signatures through Sept 30, 2015 and an update comparison as of Dec 1 for both campaigns. A final analysis will be done in Jan 2016. Continue reading

Press Release – Initiative 735 Passes 254,000 Signatures, Moves Closer to Qualifying

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Contact Gabe Meyer                                                                                              Campaign Director, WAmend
gabemeyer@wamend.org                                                                                                   or Steve Zemke
Field Director, WAmend
stevezemke@wamend.org

SEATTLE — WAmend, the sponsor of Initiative 735, announced today that supporters have now collected over 254,000 signatures to get on the 2016 ballot in Washington State. A minimum of 246,273 signatures are required by December 31st to file with the Secretary of State. WAmend is aiming to submit 320,000 signatures to cover duplicate and invalid signatures and assure success in qualifying. Continue reading

Press Release – Initiative 735 Passes 239,000 Signatures 12/1/2015

For immediate release:
For more information:
Gabe Meyer – Campaign Director
GabeMeyer@WAmend.org
Steve Zemke – State Field Director
 SteveZemke@WAmend.org
Campaign phone – 206-547-9961
Initiative 735 Passes 239,000 Signatures

 Supporters of Initiative 735 in Washington State have now collected over 239,000 signatures on Initiative 735. A minimum of 246,273 valid signatures is required to file with the Secretary of State by December 31, 2015. WAmend (Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution), the sponsor of Initiative 735, is targeting to get 320,000 signatures to cover duplicate and invalid signatures.

Continue reading

Initiative 735 to Amend the Constitution to Overturn the Corporate “Citizens United” Decision Builds Momentum

Supporters of Washington State  Initiative 735 have now gathered over 179,000 signatures as of October 20, 2015. The minimum number of valid signatures needed to be filed with the Washington Secretary of State by December 31st, 2015 is 246,372.

The campaign target goal is to gather 320,000 signatures to cover duplicate and invalid signatures, including those who signed who are not registered voters. Two measures which made it onto the Nov 2015 ballot had invalid rates of 10% (I-1366) and 14% (I-1401). There have been other initiatives that have had as high as 20% which is why I-735 is targeting getting a minimum of 320,000 signatures.

The official ballot title and summary of I-735 as written by the Washington State Attorney General is below:

Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 735 concerns a proposed amendment to the federal constitution.

This measure would urge the Washington state congressional delegation to propose a federal constitutional amendment that constitutional rights belong only to individuals, not corporations, and constitutionally-protected free speech excludes the spending of money.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Ballot Measure Summary
The measure would urge the Washington state congressional delegation to propose a federal constitutional amendment clarifying that constitutional rights belong only to individuals, not corporations; that spending money is not free speech under the First Amendment; that governments are fully empowered to regulate political contributions and expenditures to prevent undue influence; and that political contributions and expenditures must be promptly disclosed to the public. The measure would urge the legislature to ratify such an amendment.

View Complete Text PDF

Initiative 735 is an initiative to the Washington State Legislature. The Legislature according to the Secretary of State has 3 options:

“Initiatives to the Legislature, if certified, are submitted to the Legislature at its next regular session in January. Once submitted, the Legislature must take one of the following three actions:

    1. The Legislature can adopt the initiative as proposed, in which case it becomes law without a vote of the people;
    2. The Legislature can reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative, in which case the initiative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election; or
    3. The Legislature can approve an alternative to the proposed initiative, in which case both the original proposal and the Legislature’s alternative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election.”

Supporters of I-735 expect that I-735 will not be passed by the Legislature but will go onto the November 2016  ballot. The states of Montana and Colorado have both had similar measures on the ballot which passed by 74% of the voters. Fourteen other states have passed measures by their Legislatures.

Washington is trying to be the 17th State to urge Congress to put a constitutional amendment back to the states to vote on that would overturn the corporate Citizens United decision. It takes a 2/3 vote of Congress and a 3/4 vote by the states to pass a US Constitutional amendment. It is not  easy to pass a constitutional amendment but so far there have been 27 added to the Constitution.

You can read more about the campaign and volunteer to help get signatures or make a contribution to support I-735 by going to www.WAmend.org. The initiative is using volunteer signatures gatherers and needs more help. If you want to help overturn the corporate Citizens United decision this is how you can help.

 

Should 12% of our State Legislator’s Have Veto Power over the State Budget?

On July 2, 2015 Libertarian anti-tax advocate Tim Eyman snuck quietly into the Washington Secretary of State’s Election Office and filed petitions for Initiative 1366 that he claimed had some 334,000 signatures collected by paid signature gatherers. If validated I-1366 will be on the Nov 2015 ballot.

Eyman’s Initiative 1366 is a Senator Ted Cruz Style Extortion Measure to prevent any new revenue being adopted by the Washington State Legislature. It would cut $1 billion a year from the Washington State Budget unless Legislator’s do Eyman’s bidding.

 Eyman’s I-1366 wants Legislators to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to allow a super minority of only 12 % of our elected State Legislators ( 17 Senators out of 147 Legislators) to have the power to prevent any new revenue being raised for any reason. It would also allow those same 12% of elected State Legislators to prevent any tax reform, even if revenue neutral if it raised revenue from a new source, like a capital gains tax, a pollution tax on carbon or closed any tax loopholes.

Signature gatherers were paid with funds collected by Eyman from a few wealthy taxpayers that like their current low taxes while the rest of our state taxpayers pay a much higher proportion of their income in taxes.

Washington State has been ranked as the most regressive tax system in the country for many years now.  As Jon Talton noted this year in the Seattle Times:

“In the latest Who Pays? report by the non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Washington state has “by far” the most regressive tax system in the nation. Poor residents here pay 16.8 percent of family income in state and local taxes while the wealthiest 1 percent pay only 2.4 percent.”

Tim Eyman’s latest initiative I-1366 is a quagmire of problems for Washington State.

I-1366 Problems:

  1. Is this proposal constitutional? Voters are not empowered to pass a Constitutional amendment unless first Legislators by a 2//3 vote place it on the ballot. Voters cannot force Legislators by initiative to vote a certain way.
  2. Are extortion tactics legal? Removing $1 billion/year from the state budget unless the Legislature votes a certain way is not the normal way representative government work. Extortion and bullying should be rejected. Essential state services like educating our kids would be directly impacted next year and  into the future as the Legislature resists Eyman’s Ted Cruz shut down the government tactics  to try to get his way..

The problems with passing a 2/3 Constitutional amendment.

  1. A 2/3 vote requirement in both Houses would  empower a super minority of 12% of  our State Legislators to overrule a majority of legislators. It would only take 17 Senators out of 147 Legislators to prevent any revenue increase or repeal any tax loophole. That means that 12% of all the Legislators could over rule a majority up to 65% of all the  legislators in both the House and Senate and prevent action. This is not what the founders of our State and our Constitution envisioned and should be rejected. It would give special powers to a minority of Legislators by allowing them to trump any action by a majority of legislators voting in both Houses.
  2. It would require a 2/3 vote of both Houses of the Legislature to repeal tax exemptions and loopholes even if they are no longer working or no longer a priority of state government. Only a majority vote is required to pass a tax exemption. Currently according to the Washington State Department of Revenue in their latest 2012 Tax Exemption Study, Washington state exempts as much in tax revenue as it collects. For example In that report it noted that in the previous biennium the state  collected some $6.5 billion in B&O taxes but exempted some $7.6 billion from collection.
  3. It would lock in our existing regressive tax system from any reform by the Legislature. A 2/3 vote in both Houses would be required to pass any new revenue source, even if the overall result was revenue neutral.

Vote NO on I-1366. Extortion style tactics that will take critical funding away from schools and educating our children have no place in our state. Pushing an absurd constitutional amendment through extortion tactics to give 12% of our state legislators veto power over majority votes for raising revenue for needed public services, repealing tax exemptions that are not working and preventing reform of our regressive tax system needs a resounding NO vote.

see also www.No1366.org