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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Senate panel OKs tax hike

OLYMPIA – Despite warnings of wrath from voters in November, Senate Democrats moved a step closer to a vote on some $890 million in tax increases to fix the state’s budget hole. The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved 12-10 a three-year increase in the sales tax and a series of changes to tax laws and loopholes designed to help fix a projected operating budget shortfall of $2.8 billion. They also are proposing cutting about $829 million in programs and using federal funds or transferring money out of other accounts to cover the rest.

Income tax put forward

OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats may offer voters a choice: a higher sales tax or an income tax on people making more than $200,000 a year. With very short notice, the Senate Ways and Means Committee held a hearing Thursday on a voter-approved income tax, the latest plan from Democrats to close a projected $2.8 billion budget gap with a balance of program cuts and higher taxes.

Hospital feud prompts legislation

OLYMPIA – The Legislature came closer to stepping between two feuding hospital organizations in Spokane by changing laws that govern what happens when the board of a nonprofit corporation deadlocks. House Bill 3046 gives a Superior Court judge more latitude in solving an impasse on any nonprofit board. Under current law, the judge essentially is limited to dissolving the corporation.

Lean budget squeaks by Senate

OLYMPIA – With the bare minimum votes needed and debate over taxes yet to come, Senate Democrats passed a general fund budget Saturday designed to close the state’s $2.8 billion budget gap. Even without a firm decision on which taxes to add or alter to raise more than $900 million in extra revenue, the combination of programs cut, reserves tapped and federal funds corralled gave almost everyone in the chamber something to dislike.

Governor signs I-960 suspension

OLYMPIA – There was no drama, but plenty of theatrics, as Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill Wednesday making it easier for the Legislature to raise taxes. Gregoire signed a 16-month suspension of some provisions of Initiative 960 as its prime sponsor Tim Eyman looked on, at one point holding his nose and pointing one thumb down.

Legislature begins reconciling budgets

OLYMPIA – With just over two weeks remaining in the session, Democrats in both houses of the Washington Legislature released plans Tuesday to cut programs and raise taxes to fill a $2.8 billion hole in the state budget. While both expect some federal help on things like rising health care costs, and call for a “balanced approach” to the state’s budget woes, they strike that balance differently. They also differ significantly with Gov. Chris Gregoire’s latest budget, released last week.

Senate OKs curb on I-960 for third time

OLYMPIA – For the third time in three weeks, the state Senate voted to suspend a state law that requires a two-thirds majority for any tax increase. The arguments from Republicans were the same: Amending a law passed by voters thwarts the will of the people and feeds into the public’s cynicism that Olympia doesn’t listen to them.

Senate suspends part of I-960

OLYMPIA – The Legislature would be able to raise taxes this session and next with a simple majority vote under a bill approved Tuesday in the state Senate. In the most contentious Senate debate this year – one that constantly invoked “the will of the people” – Democrats suspended for 16 months the need for a supermajority on tax increases, imposed by voters in 2007.

Costly study didn’t list Pine Lodge for closure

OLYMPIA – Last year, the Legislature spent $500,000 for a consultant to tell Washington state which prisons should close and which should stay open. The consultant released his study in November, and the Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women in Medical Lake wasn’t on the list. Instead, he recommended it stay open to handle female prisoners on the east side of the state.

Citizens’ tax curb on block

OLYMPIA – Senate leaders want to make it easier for state lawmakers to raise taxes. Democrats will begin a move today to suspend the supermajority required to raise taxes that was approved by voters two years ago.

Spokane County, city eye joint use of Pine Lodge facilities for jail

Washington state will delay plans to close the Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women to see whether it can be shared with Spokane County and the city of Spokane. State Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail announced Thursday the Medical Lake center is getting a temporary reprieve from a list of institutions the state wants to close because of its budget problems.