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Senate budget proposal to be released at noon Tuesday, TVW will be live

By | March 31, 2015 | 0 Comments

Senate Republican lead budget writer Sen. Andy Hill will announce the Senate’s operating budget proposal at noon on Tuesday at the Capitol.

TVW will carry the announcement live on television and on the web at this link.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee will hold a public hearing on the budget proposal at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. It will air live and at this link.

The House released its $38.8 billion budget proposal on Friday, calling for $1.4 billion in new taxes to pay for education. It also focuses on mental health and freezes college tuition.

Full budget documents for the Senate proposal will be available at the Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program (LEAP) website following the announcement.

Categories: Budget, TVW, WA Senate

Monday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | March 31, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here’s our 15-minute recap of Monday’s legislative activities on “Legislative Review,” including public testimony on the $38.8 billion House budget proposal that would raise taxes to pay for education. We also cover a Senate hearing on  a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour, as well as details about the House capital budget.

“Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

Categories: Budget
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Weekly ‘Legislative Review’ with House budget details

By | March 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here’s our weekly “Legislative Review” wrap-up, including details from the House budget proposal. House Democrats on Friday released a $38.8 billion budget proposal that includes $1.4 billion in new taxes, including a new capital gains tax and changes to the business and occupation tax.

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House Democrats roll out $38.8 billion budget proposal, new taxes

By | March 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

House Democrats on Friday released a $38.8 billion budget proposal that includes $1.4 billion in new taxes, including a new capital gains tax and changes to the business and occupation tax.

Money raised from the new taxes would fund education, including operating costs, all-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes through the 3rd grade and college readiness programs.

“Without investment, you can’t have a return on investment. That’s what this budget is,” said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan at the budget rollout on Friday.

The budget spends an additional $588 million in cost-of-living pay raises and health benefits for teachers. While allocating $412 million to reduce class sizes for kindergarten through 3rd grade, it does not fully fund Initiative 1351, the class size reduction measure passed by voters last year.

Lead budget writer Rep. Ross Hunter said he believes the budget meets the mandate to fully fund basic education in the McCleary decision by the state Supreme Court. “I think the court will be fine with this,” he said.

The budget would freeze tuition at the state’s colleges and universities for the next two years, and also provide $8 million dollars for a new Washington State University medical school that was given the green light to open by the Legislature this week.

The budget also funds more mental health beds in community facilities and state hospitals, as well as $5.1 million for “Joel’s Law.” The bill is named after Joel Reuter, who was shot by Seattle police after having a mental health breakdown. It allows families to appeal to a court if mental health professionals decide not to involuntarily commit someone who is mentally ill.

“We want to make sure people can get the help they need at the time they are having a crisis,” Hunter told reporters.

Among the largest sources of  new revenue is a capital gains tax, which would raise about $570 million for the two-year budget.

Individuals who earn more than $25,000 in profits on the sales of stocks and bonds, or married joint filers earning more than $50,000 in profits, would pay a 5 percent capital gains tax under the proposal. It would not apply to retirement accounts.

Budget leaders estimate about 32,000 Washington residents would begin paying the capital gains tax starting in 2016. “This is for the super wealthy,” said Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle.

Critics say the capital gains tax is too volatile to use as a reliable source of revenue, which Democrats acknowledge. “We’re not pretending anything other than that,” said Carlyle.

To protect against fluctuations, Carlyle said the budget only counts on $400 million a year from the capital gains tax to go toward paying for basic education requirements. Any additional money raised above that threshold would go into a higher education fund.

Another $532 million in new revenue would come from changes to the business and occupation tax. It would increase the B&O tax by 0.3 percentage points for certain businesses, while also reducing or eliminating the tax for about 15,000 small businesses.

Online retailers that do not have a physical presence in Washington — such as eBay or Etsy — would be required to start collecting tax from online transactions. Currently, only companies with an presence in Washington, like Amazon, collect tax from online sales.

Democrats also propose eliminating several tax breaks. Out-of-state residents would no longer be exempted from paying sales tax when they shop in Washington, and sales tax would be added to the cost of bottled water. It also eliminates a tax break for oil refiners and other industries, including travel agents.

Lead Republican budget writer Sen. Andy Hill criticized the budget for imposing new taxes when the state has $3 billion in new revenue coming into the state. “When you don’t use that to pay for education and instead you use taxes – quite frankly, I don’t know if that’s unconstitutional or just unconscionable,” he said. (more…)

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Thursday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | March 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here’s our 15-minute recap of Thursday’s legislative activities on “Legislative Review.” We cover two different proposals to lower college tuition — one that relies on new revenue, and one that does not. Plus, highlights from a committee hearing on the Senate’s gas tax proposal and a move to allow judges to remove their home address from certain public documents.

“Legislative Review” airs at 6:30 and 11 p.m. nightly.

Categories: TVW
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Wednesday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | March 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here’s our 15-minute recap of Wednesday’s legislative activities on “Legislative Review.” We cover Senate floor action, including the passage of a bill to allow WSU to open its own medical school and an attempt by Senate Democrats to change the chamber’s rule to require “fair and balanced” committee hearings. Plus, a proposal to teach middle and high school students about nuclear energy, and a bill that would raise the state’s smoking age to 21.

“Legislative Review” airs at 6:30 and 11 p.m. nightly.

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Nuclear energy education program proposed for students in grades 8-12

By | March 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

A Republican legislator is backing a plan that would teach middle and high school students about nuclear power, with the goal of funneling more young people into high-paying nuclear energy jobs.

Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, told the House Technology Committee on Wednesday the nuclear industry is struggling to fill jobs that pay an average salary of $85,000 a year.

“We really need to educate kids that this is a different type of nuclear. It’s not your father’s nuclear anymore. It’s next generation and it’s a lot more safe,” Brown said.

But critics of the measure say schools shouldn’t single out a source of energy above others without also discussing potential negative health impacts.

Columbia Generating Station

Columbia Generating Station

Senate Bill 5093 creates a nuclear energy education program for students in 8th through 12th grade, administered by the Washington State University Energy Program. It would partner with the American Nuclear Society, which provides classroom materials and training for teachers.

Representatives from Physicians for Social Responsibility oppose the bill, citing health concerns.

“I think there are many young people who are very concerned about having a sustainable energy future that is not toxic to themselves and their children,” said Mary Hanson, who represents the Washington chapter of the group.

Chuck Johnson, speaking on behalf of the Oregon chapter, said he was concerned about the role of the American Nuclear Society in shaping the educational material. “Having them as a gatekeeper is very problematic,” he said.

If the bill passes, Johnson suggested adding a public health educator who could discuss health concerns associated with nuclear power.

Energy Northwest, which operates the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant, supports the effort and says some of its 1,000 employees could play a role as “nuclear ambassadors” to the program.

Jim Gaston of Energy Northwest said the company could help “bring knowledge to the kids and understanding of the well paying jobs in nuclear technology.”

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Tuesday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | March 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here’s our 15-minute recap of Tuesday’s legislative activities on “Legislative Review.” We cover debate over a controversial payday lending bill, as well as a measure that would change how cities regulate tent cities for the homeless. Plus, a proposal to alter Initiative 937 is heard in committee.

“Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

Categories: TVW
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Thursday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | March 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here’s our 15-minute recap of Thursday’s legislative activities on “Legislative Review.” We cover a bill that aims to help more foster care students graduate from high school, a bill that would allow low-income families to get state assistance for health-related improvements to their homes, and several bills related to military veterans and their families.

“Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

Categories: Education, Military, TVW
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Monday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | March 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here’s our 15-minute recap of Monday’s legislative activities on “Legislative Review.” We cover debate over a proposal from Gov. Jay Inslee to tax and regulate e-cigarettes, as well as bill that would allow more tiny houses in Washington. Plus, highlights from a Friday hearing on a bill that would reduce Boeing’s tax break if the company moves jobs out of Washington.

“Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

Categories: TVW