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Posts tagged: Association of Washington Business

Inslee campaign complains about AWB donor

OLYMPIA — The campaign for Jay Inslee said it was concerned about a big donation an oil company gave to the sponsor of next week's gubernatorial debate in Spokane. But the Association of Washington Business said he needn't be.

The $100,000 isn't for use in the governor's race. It's dedicated to an initiative campaign that would try to keep the two-thirds supermajority requirement on all tax votes the Legislature might want to take for at least the first two years of the next governor's term, the AWB says.

AWB got the money from the Tesoro Company, which is the company that operates a refinery in Western Washington as well as gas stations around the state. The refinery was the site of a fire in 2010 that killed seven workers, the Inslee campaign said. The company also gave $1,600 to the campaign of his opponent, Republican Rob McKenna.

“As you can imagine, accepting $100,000 from a major oil company openly supporting Mr. McKenna leaves the impression that the money is intended for eventual use on behalf of Mr. McKenna and against Jay Inslee,” Campaign Manager Joby Shimomura wrote. “This raises serious concerns for us, and we imagine it will raise concerns for many viewers and voters as well.”

To make sure the public considers everything is fair in next Tuesday's debate, which AWB is co-sponsoring with Greater Spokane Inc., the business organization should give the money back.

Not going to happen, AWB says. The money from Tesoro isn't going to candidates. It was a pass-through, coming in to AWB and out to the Initiative 1185 campaign, as Tesoro and several other big money donors requested.

“None of these funds were allocated toward any candidates. Our PDC filings indicate as much,” Don Brunell, president of AWB wrote back. “Moreover, we are not in a position to dictate where our members choose to donate their own political funds. We only control those funds given to us, and in this case, they were received and then transmitted to the I-1185 campaign for the purposes of signature gathering.”

To be fair, the PDC records, some of which were filed by AWB the same day the Inslee campaign sent its letter, aren't crystal clear on this. Tesoro money came in on April 24 and was part of a total of $185,000 reported to the PDC on May 15 as earmarked for I-1185, although nothing was said about signature gathering on that report.

No such amount shows up on the I-1185 campaign reports, and AWB's Tuesday filing doesn't mention the initative, it says it paid the $185,000 to Citizen Solutions, a signature gathering firm, but doesn't say for what. The I-1185 campaign, which does use Citizen Solutions, has yet to report the $185,000 as an in-kind contributions.

But Brunell has a point. AWB couldn't spend that kind of money on McKenna, or any other candidate. The only place where a PAC can dump six figures is in an initative campaign.

Taken a step farther, if some company wants to give AWB $100,000 to pass along to an initiative campaign, who is AWB to say “no way, Jose”? People who don't like this kind of money maneuver should take it up with the Legislature, not the poor PACs.

Brunell added the business group is “pleased to know that Mr. Inslee remains committed to our debate … and look forward to hearing him articulate his ideas about the key issues facing our state.”

Just as Inslee's letter could be seen as lobbing a few shells before the big battle, that line from Brunell could be seen as just the tiniest dig, because AWB and the Inslee campaign had a minor dust up over the debate scheduling earlier this year that almost led to the organization giving the stage to McKenna, solo.

But maybe it was just a heartfelt, “see you in Spokane.”

That debate, and a head-to-head for the two main attorney general candidates, occurs Tuesday afternoon at The Bing. They will also be televised live on TVW.

Inslee switches course. Spokane gov debate on for June 12

The likely Republican and Democratic candidates for governor will debate this June in Spokane. An on-again, off-again match up of state Attorney General Rob McKenna and former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee in front of a major state business group appears on again, for good.

The Association of Washington Business announced, and the campaigns confirmed, Inslee and McKenna will debate at The Bing Crosby Theater on June 12 as part of the group's quarterly meeting, in an event co-sponsored by Greater Spokane, Inc. As recently as Monday, the Inslee campaign was refusing to debate at that particular time and place, accusing the AWB of bad faith in announcing the event before all details were worked out…
  

AWB: No on tolling init; yes on liquor init

OLYMPIA — The Association of Washington Business, which is occupies the role of the state's chamber of commerce, likes the ballot measure to turn the state's liquor business over to private business.

It doesn't like the ballot measure to restrict tolling policies on roads and bridges. Nor does it like a measure to require extra training and background checks for long-term care workers.

At its “policy summit” meeting in Suncadia — that's a lodge on the eastern slope of the Cascades near Cle Elum — the AWB decided to come out in favor of I-1183, which would end the state monopoly on wholesale and retail liquor operations. Better than previous attempts, the group says, by keeping sales out of convenience stores in cities and bringing in more revenue for the state.”

It doesn't like I-1163, which applies to health workers. Too expensive at a time when the state's budget is “$2 billion in the hole” and can least afford it.(Technically, the budget isn't $2 billion in the hole. The gap between projected revenue and scheduled expenses is $1.4 billion, or $1.27 billion if the state were to blow through its reserves in an effort to head off red ink. Gov. Chris Gregoire is asking the Legislature to come back starting Nov. 28 to cut $2 billion because by then the revenue projections may be worse and the state really needs to have reserves. But $2 billion probably is easier to remember.)

And it's against I-1125, which would restrict the use of tolls to the roads or bridges where they are levied, ban variable tolls for different times or days, and require tolls be set by the Legislature.  It would jeopardize some big projects and cause “more delays and traffic headaches for Washington drivers,” the group said.

AWB endorses Baxter

OLYMPIA — The Association of Washington Business endorsed Jeff Baxter Friday in the race for the state Senate seat in Spokane Valley's 4th District.

The AWB is meeting this week at Suncadia lodge — a resort near Cle Elum — for its annual “policy summit”. Among the policies are endorsements…mostly for initiatives in this odd-year election.

But with a contest between two Republicans in the 4th, the group went with the incumbent Baxter, who was appointed to the seat this winter after Bob McCaslin retired for health reasons. He faces another Republican, former state Rep. and County District Judge Mike Padden in November because no Democrats got into the race.

The AWB said it was backing Baxter because of his business experience. “The private sector needs to lead our economic recovery efforts,” the group said.

Gregoire: No special session before November

Gov. Chris Gregoire at the Suncadia Lodge.

CLE ELUM — Washington's economic outlook is so much more likely to get worse in the next two months that Gov. Chris Gregoire said she won't call the Legislature into a special session until November.

“It would be premature for me to call them back before the next forecast. They need to know how large the problem is,” Gregoire said.

Speaking to the annual “policy summit” of the Association of Washington Business, Gregoire said the state's chief economist has told her it's about four times more likely the state's revenue outlook will be worse for his November forecast than it was last week. That's when he said the state can expect a drop of about $1.4 billion from the amount the Legislature expected when it wrote the 2011-13 general fund budget.

Before last week's forecast, Gregoire told state agencies to prepare plans to cut 5 percent and 10 percent from their current appropriations. But Chief Economist Arun Raha's forecast last week essentially blew those apart.

“Neither of those would be enough,” she said.

The asssociation, which represents businesses throughout the state, is holding its annual conference at the Suncadia Lodge, a golf, winery and lodging complex on the eastern slope of the Cascades. Advocates for higher taxes on businesses are massed at the entrance, demanding an end to tax preferences — they use the term loopholes — for businesses rather than another “all cuts” budget.

Gregoire didn't mention a tax preferences of a tax hike in her talk to the business leaders, and none asked her about them in the brief question and answer session after her speech. But she left open the prospect that the state would consider some, urging the crowd “everything is on the table” — presumably taxes as well as cuts.

“I'm asking you… not to draw lines in the sand,” she said.

AWB backs return to tax-raising supermajority

The Association of Washington Business is throwing its weight behind the return of a two-thirds supermajority to raise taxes in the Legislature.

The statewide business organization urged its members Tuesday to support Initiative 1053, which was introduced even before the Legislature voted to suspend the provision. Although the proposal is still in the signature gathering stage, President Don Brunell said the group’s board was making an early endorsement to try to raise its visibility.

AWB challenges ballot title of Energy Rehab bonds

OLYMPIA — The Association of Washington Business says it will challenge the proposed ballot title for Referendum 52, the measure that asks voters to approve bonds for a half billion worth of energy retrofits at public schools and colleges.

Dubbed “Hans Bonds” during the late legislative session because they were the brainchild of Rep. Hans Dunshee, the bonds would be sold to pay for energy savings rehabilitation that would save the schools money and create jobs in the lagging construction sector of the economy. Or at least that was the pitch from Dunshee and House Democrats, who finally got the bonds past the Senate late in the special session.

But not until the legislation added a refendum clause, allowing voters to decide whether they want to pay for the bonds by making the now-temporary tax on bottled water permanent, and the source for paying off the bonds.

AWB says the ballot title language should state that very fact, and wants to add “and make the sales tax on bottled water permanent” to the end of the title. The challenge will get a Superior Court hearing laster this month.

UPDATE: Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center notes this afternoon that legislative Democrats can’t say they weren’t warned that the language would prompt a legal challenge. During debate on the bill, Sen.Linda Parlette, R-Wenatchee, sponsored an amendment to add the language about a permanent water tax to the required ballot title. Democratic Sens. Karen Fraser of Olympia and Lisa Brown of Spokane argued that the tax isn’t really permanent because it could be removed at the Legislature at any time.

The amendment failed 16-30. Mercier has posted a clip of the debate on his blog.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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