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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Clark: Unmarked police car bill solves no one’s problems

I’ve long held the belief that if Olympia’s electricity came from brainpower the Statehouse would be in a perpetual gloom. Even so, I’m confident there’s still enough wisdom at the Capitol to snuff the knee-jerk legislation being proposed by two Spokane Valley lawmakers, Matt Shea and Larry Crouse.

Legislature OKs deficit reduction plan in one-day session

OLYMPIA – Washington state lawmakers quickly approved a plan to shrink the state’s $1.1 billion deficit in a one-day special session Saturday, a preview of heavier budget-balancing work that lies ahead. The Legislature’s bipartisan plan cuts state spending, raids off-budget accounts and counts on stepped-up collection of existing taxes to trim about $590 million from the deficit through June.

Interpreter services for patients face cut

SEATTLE – About 70,000 Washington residents who do not speak English fluently may lose access to interpreters during medical visits under a proposed budget cut. The proposed $2 million cut in Gov. Chris Gregoire’s emergency budget would eliminate a state-funded program that subsidizes interpreter services to medical clinics and hospitals who serve Medicaid patients.

Special session starts Saturday

OLYMPIA – State lawmakers will convene a weekend special session to substantially cut the state’s $1.1 billion budget deficit, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced Thursday. The bipartisan agreement will reduce the state’s revenue shortfall through June by about $790 million, Gregoire and legislative leaders said. The special session will start Saturday morning with a goal of wrapping up work in one day.

Editorial: Convening lawmakers again should be last option

Before Gov. Chris Gregoire calls the Washington Legislature back to Olympia for another special session, she should reflect on what happened in the first one. Unable to fix the state’s $2.8 billion revenue shortfall during their 60-day regular session earlier this year, state lawmakers received a gubernatorial summons to extend their work. She thought they’d need a week, at the most. Thirty days later, an exasperated Gregoire found herself issuing an ultimatum.

Second special session might be needed, Gregoire says

OLYMPIA — Washington may need another special session of the Legislature if Congress doesn’t come through with some $480 million in higher payments for Medicaid, Gov. Chris Gregoire said today.

New food taxes start Tuesday

If you drink bottled water or beer, eat candy or chew gum, this weekend would be a good time to stock up. Those items – or at least some brands – are either being taxed, or taxed more, starting Tuesday. That’s the day that a series of “temporary” taxes will begin on items the Legislature agreed could become a source of extra money for Washington state’s out-of-balance general fund. The taxes are set to expire June 30, 2013, although voters will be asked in November to extend the bottled water tax indefinitely to pay off bonds for energy retrofits at schools and colleges.

Gregoire signs budget bill

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a new spending plan Tuesday designed to close an estimated $2.8 billion gap in the state’s operating budget with what she called a “fair mix” of cuts, federal money and new taxes. Before the ink was dry, the Republicans’ top budget expert criticized it as relying on taxes rather than needed government reforms, and an analyst for a conservative think tank said the state was placing too much trust in Congress to come through with money for medical programs.

Gregoire signs new state budget into law

Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed the Legislature’s new operating budget, which bridges an estimated $2.8 billion deficit in the state’s general fund.

Spin Control: Drafting in dark messed up soda tax

OLYMPIA – Not to be a nag about the value of public hearings for important stuff government wants to do to us, but legislators’ penchant for closed-door, back-room discussions of the tax plan they passed may have bit them in the posterior. Or more appropriately, bit them in the soda bottlers.

New $1 cigarette tax starts Saturday in Washington

The new dollar-a-pack tax on cigarettes tax effect Saturday in Washington. While lawmakers are hoping to raise more money, the state Health Department says this could prompt more smokers to quit.

Washington state furlough law enacted

OLYMPIA – Thousands of state workers will take 10 days off without pay over the next 14 months under a law signed Tuesday by Gov. Chris Gregoire. The new law is a cost-cutting measure approved by the Legislature in the face of a $2.8 billion shortfall in the state’s general fund. The furloughs could cut some $50 million in wage and salary expenses from the general fund and $86 million overall.

Governor signs tax increases

OLYMPIA – Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed two major tax increases Friday, insisting the state had no choice but to raise taxes on a wide range of businesses and consumer goods to protect key services. She discounted any potential electoral backlash for Democrats from the tax increases in November, saying the budget isn’t a partisan issue: “This is not about partisan politics. This is about tough times in the state of Washington.”