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OLYMPIA – The Legislature prepared to go into extra innings Wednesday as consensus on addressing the state’s $2.8 billion budget gap remained elusive and the ability to turn any agreement into reality became physically impossible. The 60-day session is due to end today – at the stroke of midnight, if working that late would finish the job. But as the hours ticked away Wednesday, Democrats who control the House and Senate remained unable to reach agreement on how much to spend, cut, tax and leave in reserve in the state’s general fund budget.
OLYMPIA – With not a vote to spare, Washington Senate Democrats on Sunday approved an $805 million tax package that includes hikes in sales and business taxes, sending it to the House for an almost certain overhaul. After four hours of debate and parliamentary maneuvering Saturday, and two more Sunday, the Senate voted 25-23 to approve 21 separate changes to the state’s tax laws. Six Democrats, including state Sen. Chris Marr of Spokane, opposed it, as did all Republicans. A bill to add an extra $1-per-pack cigarette tax, bringing the state an extra $86 million, passed on a 29-19 vote.
OLYMPIA – After more than four hours of sometimes contentious debate over a proposal to raise taxes on consumers and a wide range of businesses, Senate Democrats and Republicans put off for at least a day a vote on the overall plan. They debated whether the $805 million in extra taxes was the biggest in state history, whether it would kill jobs or save essential services, and whether it should get voter approval before taking effect.
OLYMPIA – After more than four hours of sometimes contentious debate over a proposal to raise taxes on consumers and a wide range of businesses, Senate Democrats and Republicans put off for at least a day a vote on the overall plan.
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.
Senate Democrats may offer voters a choice of which tax they like better: a higher sales tax or an income tax on people making more than $200,000 a year.
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.
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.
Eastern Washington will need almost 1,000 new doctors by 2025, and to fill that prescription the University of Washington School of Medicine should quadruple, if not quintuple, the number of students on its Spokane campus, according to a report issued this week. Even if the school immediately began ramping up the present enrollment of 20, the report says, additional graduates would not be practicing medicine until 2017. It will take another seven years to get the optimal output of 100 students into clinics and hospitals.
OLYMPIA – Leaders of the Senate Transportation Committee added their voices Monday to the chorus opposing a tax increase that could add 3 cents to a gallon of gasoline. A proposal called the “Clean Water Act of 2010,” which would nearly triple the Model Toxics Control Act first imposed by voters in 1988, is being requested by Gov. Chris Gregoire and co-sponsored by 23 Senate Democrats. But instead of dedicating all the money collected to pollution control, two-thirds would be sent to the general fund for the next year in an attempt to help fill a projected $2.8 billion gap between expected revenues and expenses. The amount shifted to the general fund would gradually decline to zero by 2015.
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.
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.
Lawmakers convening in Olympia want to toughen laws on two types of illegal driving: speeding through school zones and talking on cell phone without a hands-free device. State Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, has proposed making it a primary offense to talk on a cell phone held to your ear or to engage in text messaging while driving.
OLYMPIA – Last year, in his bid to win a seat in the Statehouse, Spokane-area coffee entrepreneur Kevin Parker knocked on nearly 22,000 doors. It worked. In a difficult year for Republican candidates, Parker ousted a Democratic incumbent.
It doesn’t look like a battleground, but a Spokane Valley mobile home park is once again at the heart of a state clash between environmental concerns and affordable housing.