Archive for economy

Live from the Capitol: TVW’s opening day show starts 10 a.m. Monday

By | January 9, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Washington State Legislature’s 2015 session begins Monday, Jan. 12. Opening ceremonies start at noon, but tune in to TVW early to catch exclusive interviews with lawmakers, who will discuss key issues for the coming months.

Starting at 10 a.m., The Impact’s Anita Kissee will host the live show from the Capitol rotunda. Gov. Jay Inslee will stop by to talk about his budget proposal and more.

Guests include House and Senate leadership from both sides of the aisle, including Senators Sharon Nelson, Mark Schoesler, Andy Billig, Linda Evans Parlette and Representatives Dan Kristiansen, Pat Sullivan, Joel Kretz and Eric Pettigrew.

Hear about key issues including education, transportation and mental health from Senators Jeannie Darneille, Doug Ericksen, Curtis King, Steve Litzow, Rosemary McAuliffe, John McCoy and Steve O’Ban, plus Representatives Judy Clibborn, Hans Dunshee, Richard DeBolt, Cary Condotta and Sharon Wylie.

We’ll also get insight about the session from Capitol reporters Jim Camden of The Spokesman-Review and Jordan Schrader from The News Tribune.

TVW will carry gavel-to-gavel coverage of opening ceremonies beginning at noon.

Stay tuned to TVW throughout the session for coverage of the state Legislature. Starting opening day of session, Legislative Review will air nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m. “The Impact” airs Wednesdays at 7 and 10 p.m. and Inside Olympia with Austin Jenkins is Thursdays at 7 and 10 p.m.

Lawmakers offer preview of 2015 session at Washington Policy Center summit in Bellevue

By | January 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

It wasn’t quite a debate, but the differences were clear in presentations on state legislative priorities given by Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) and Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) at the Washington Policy Center’s Solutions Summit in Bellevue on Wednesday.

Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) and Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) speak at the Washington Policy Center's Solutions Summit in Bellevue on Wednesday.

Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), seated, and Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) speak at the Washington Policy Center's Solutions Summit in Bellevue on Wednesday.

Hill made the argument that the surplus in the state revenues would allow for an additional $1 billion in education spending and cover existing expenses over the next biennium.

However, Hill, the Senate Ways & Means chairman, criticized Gov. Jay Inslee‘s proposed new capital gains tax in his $39 billion, two-year budget, which the governor introduced last month.

“We do not have a brutal deficit,” Hill said. “It’s a false choice to say you raise taxes or you make cuts.”

Carlyle, the House Finance chairman, was critical of Washington’s taxing system as a whole, which he says squeezes middle- and lower-income taxpayers as well as small businesses. But Carlyle was also skeptical of the idea that the spending side of a budget should get the most scrutiny. He said many of the state’s tax exemptions to businesses have not been revisited since they were passed.

“I believe the best tax structure would be low rates, broadly applied with few exemptions,” he said.

The Washington Policy Center, a pro-business think tank, hosted Hill, Carlyle and Sen. Curtis King (R-Yakima) and others in a half-day summit that prepared attendees and other supporters for the 2015 Washington state legislative session. The Bellevue event, which drew 400 people, was the second day of a two-day summit on legislative issues. The first day was held in Kennewick on Tuesday.

Other speakers at the Bellevue event included former Attorney General Rob McKenna, former New York Gov. George Pataki, Forbes columnist and former health care policy advisor to Mitt Romney Avik Roy and a small business panel that included former Starbucks president Howard Behar and restaurateur Taylor Hoang, who owns Pho Cyclo restaurants.

Sen. Curtis King (R-Yakima) speaks at the Washington Policy Center's Solutions Summit in Bellevue on Wednesday.

In a transportation forum, King, the Senate transportation chairman, declined to discuss in detail why lawmakers failed to come up with a transportation package that would pay for major road projects in the last session, but said that going forward, the state needs to consider what projects would make the greatest economic impact to the state as a whole.

“We got to take this limited amount of money and use it to address our problems,” he said. “Bike and ped paths are not our problem… They are nice to have, but not our problem.”

King, who was in the panel with Marc Scribner, a research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, also criticized cities that make local decisions without considering how transportation will be affected, such as in Seattle, where several projects in the South Lake Union area will bring 44,000 people to the area to live and work and bringing further congestion to the area, he said.

“Because Seattle said, ‘Hey, we’ll let you build those towers,’ is that the state’s problem?” King asked.

Community struggling with PTSD, economic recovery in the wake of Oso mudslide

By | November 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

Eight months after the deadly Oso mudslide, people in the community continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and are struggling to move forward, local officials told lawmakers Thursday.

There is also a “tenseness” because of the uncertainty of what will happen to the Stillaguamish River during the flooding season, said Arlington mayor Barbara Tolbert at a meeting of the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee.

“We have very resilient people in the community,” said Tolbert, who said the region’s next challenge is recovering economically from the disaster. A federally-funded economic review is underway, and the report should be completed early next year, she said.

The Oso mudslide on March 22 killed 43 people, burying dozens of homes and part of State Route 530. The road reopened to two-way traffic in September.

The committee also heard testimony from people involved in the recovery effort at the mudslide. Retired forest service member Peter Selvig listed several problems he encountered in the days after the mudslide as he helped organize efforts on the Darrington side of the disaster.

He said he was twice denied flood lights, and he also received pushback on the number of portable toilets and body bags he ordered. Communications were focused on the Arlington side of the disaster, he said, leaving the Darrington side with minimal services.

“These are some of the confusions that just rip your gut apart thinking that this was happening and there was nobody there to respond,” Selvig told the committee.

Watch the hearing below:

Lawmakers facing budget shortfall, say Initiative 1351 ‘creates a problem’

By | November 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

Economic forecasters said Wednesday the state is on track to collect $36.9 billion in the next two-year budget cycle, about $275 million more than they previously forecasted.

But it is still not enough to cover current government services and K-12 education obligations. Lawmakers will be facing about a $2.2 billion dollar shortfall for the 2015-17 budget.

Initiative 1351, a new measure approved by voters to reduce class sizes, added a significant cost to the budget projections — costing about $2 billion during the same budget cycle.

“If you look at the outlook as it stands today, we’re $2 billion short which matches pretty close to 1351,” said Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond.

“Overall, 1351 creates a problem. But if you take that out of the equation, it is kind of what we expected,” Hill said.

He said it is “too soon to tell” if the Legislature will vote to suspend the initiative. It would require a two-third supermajority vote of the Legislature to change a voter-approved initiative.

“I think we have to figure out, do we have two-thirds to change an initiative that just got passed by the people? There’s typically a lot of reluctance to change those,” said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

Hunter noted the budget doesn’t include collective bargaining agreements for state employees “who have had a 15 percent reduction in real salaries in last six years,” nor does it include half of the state’s McCleary obligations. Looking ahead, the state can expect a $4.7 billion dollar gap by the end of 2019, he said.

Gov. Jay Inslee will propose a budget in December. The House and Senate will each release budget proposals during the 2015 legislative session.

Read the budget outlook from the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. Watch today’s meeting below:

Categories: economy
Tags:

Legislative Year in Review

By | March 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

On this special one-hour edition of “Legislative Year in Review,” we recap the highlights from the 2014 session — from opening day to Sine Die. The show includes debate over issues such as the Dream Act, minimum wage, gun control, abortion insurance bill, death penalty, mental health, teacher evaluations, taxing e-cigarettes and the supplemental budget. Plus, a quick wrap-up of several of the bills that passed this year. Watch the show below:

Live in Olympia: TVW’s Sine Die show starts at 8 a.m. Thursday

By | March 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington’s legislative leaders will adjourn the 2014 session Thursday, unless a special session extends the deadline. But before they go back to their districts TVW will air back-to-back live interviews with more than 20 lawmakers starting at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Anita Kissée reporting live from the capitol rotunda for TVW's special edition mid-session show Feb. 18.

Anita Kissée, host of The Impact, will sit down with Gov. Jay Inslee, House Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Pat Sullivan and House Republican leader Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Other guests include Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island. The lawmakers will talk about a range of issues from education to the capital budget to the environment.

Plus, Austin Jenkins, host of TVW’s “Inside Olympia” and reporter for the Public Radio Northwest News Network, and Brian Rosenthal, a state government reporter for The Seattle Times, will stop by to talk about some highlights from the past 60 days and what to expect when the election process begins.

Coverage will be here on the blog, and you can watch live on TVW or via webcast.

Marijuana could bring $51 million to 2015-17 general fund

By | February 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

State officials estimated that legalized recreational marijuana could bring in $51 million to the state’s general fund in the 2015-17 biennium.

It’s the first time that the state has included marijuana in its revenue projections, since Initiative 502 passed in 2012, which legalized recreational marijuana, according to the Office of Financial Management.

The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council discussed the estimate, and projections for the next six years at meetings broadcast on TVW Wednesday.

The forecast for the remainder of the 2013-15 biennium showed general fund revenue coming in $30 million higher than in the November forecast, according to the Office of Financial Management. The general fund revenue over this biennium is expected to be $33 billion.

The state’s general fund collections in the following biennium, 2015-17, are projected to be $35.7 billion, an increase of $82 million over the November projection and including the $51 million expected in marijuana taxes.

The rest of that increased forecast was due to slowly growing economy, said Steve Lerch, chief economist of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

Lerch told lawmakers Wednesday that council staff has been reluctant before this forecast to include marijuana tax revenues in general fund projections because of uncertainties about the retail stores, including when the the stores would launch and the potential for marijuana businesses to have problems with banks.

The projection includes an assumption that marijuana retail stores would not start until June 2015, Lerch said. Initiative 502 earmarks other revenue from marijuana, such as licensing revenue, to a dedicated marijuana fund, which pays for social and health services and research, he said.

According to OFM, the next revenue forecast is scheduled for release June 18.

Categories: economy, Marijuana
Tags:

Senate committee passes volunteerism for unemployment benefits bill

By | February 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

A bill that would allow people to perform community service to fulfill a requirement for unemployment benefits passed out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Friday morning.

The Employment Security Department requires people collecting unemployment benefits to perform three job search actions a week — either applying to a job or attending an employment workshop. SB 6392 and HB 2690 would allow the option of performing two hours of community service as one of those three activities.

Two high school students, Marissa Martz and Kristen Hoffmann of Snohomish High School, approached legislators with this proposal, according to Jerry Cornfield of The Herald of Everett.

 

The bill considered Friday was amended from the students’ original version of the bill, which would have required the community service in addition to the existing unemployment benefit requirements.

They testified to Senate committee on Friday and to the House Labor and Workforce Development on Wednesday.

They argued that the requirement could help the unemployed find work.

“Instead of just a piece of paper given to an employer, like a resume, you actually get to show what you’re doing and what you’re worth,” Hoffmann told the Senate committee Friday.

Several people signed in opposition to the bill, including representatives from Legal Voice, Unemployment Law Project, Washington State Labor Council and the Washington Education Association.

Neil Gorrell, Unemployment Insurance Director, said the original bill would have violated federal law, but making the community service optional instead of mandatory takes care of the issue.

The department was neutral on the version of the bill considered Friday, he said.

Categories: economy, unemployment

On TVW this week: Economic forum with Nancy Pelosi, King County legislative forum

By | November 25, 2013 | 0 Comments

Here’s what TVW is covering on this holiday week:

Monday, Nov. 25 at 9 a.m.: TVW is live webcasting the Economic Forum for Women and Families in Seattle. Speakers include U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene and Marilyn Watkins of the Washington Work and Family Coalition. Watch the webcast here.

Monday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m.: TVW is live webcasting the 24th Annual King County Legislative Forum. The forum focuses on issues for those with developmental disabilities.King County Executive Dow Constantine and statewide elected officials are expected to attend. Watch the webcast here.

Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 7 & 10 p.m.: This week’s edition of “The Impact” looks at the big issues addressed during Legislative Committee Days, including transportation funding and fish consumption. Plus, Sen. Sharon Nelson talks about her new role as minority leader.

Categories: economy, TVW

Washington revenue forecast and job growth remain flat, new home permits down

By | November 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

Economic updates released Wednesday show the state is experiencing flat revenue and job growth, along with a slowing of new home construction.

The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council projected the state will collect about $25 million more in tax revenue through 2015 than expected. The total general fund balance is expected to be $33 billion for the current two-year budget cycle.

“If we look at changes in the forecast, they’re quite small,” said Steve Lerch, the state’s chief economist. “We continue to forecast slow economic and job growth for both the national and state economies.”

Lawmakers use the forecast as a guide when writing the state’s budget. Gov. Jay Inslee will release a supplemental budget proposal in December.

David Schumacher, director of the Office of Financial Management, said the projections make it “difficult for us to spend money on any new incentives or programs.”

“It’s enough to hold steady and not much more than that,” Schumacher said.

On the positive side, sales of existing homes in Washington continues to be strong, Lerch said.

But those homes have become slightly less affordable because of rising prices and mortgage rates, he said.

At the same time, new home construction appears to be slowing. “The thing we’re a little concerned about is we’ve seen a decrease in housing permits since April 2013,” Lerch said.

The latest unemployment figures were also released Wednesday.

Washington lost 9,500 jobs over the last two months, reversing a nearly two-year trend of positive job growth in the state.

Still, the state’s unemployment rate remained mostly the same — 6.9 percent in September and 7 percent in October. That’s compared to 7 percent in August.

September and October jobless numbers were released at the same time because the federal government shutdown prevented the employment agency from releasing the figures on time.

Paul Turek, a labor economist with Employment Security Department, said in a statement the drops are likely a result of “statistical adjustments and some softening of the economy.”

“We enjoyed a very long growth streak, but we should expect there will be ups and downs over time as the recovery gradually strengthens,” Turek said.

The state previously reported 22 straight months of job growth.

TVW taped Wednesday’s meeting of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council — watch it here.

Categories: economy, Governors Office