budget

The state of Oregon is getting ready to send $402 million back to taxpayers. State economists Wednesday announced the first so-called kicker rebate since 2007.

Washington lawmakers will have to return for a second 30-day special session. The first overtime session ends Thursday and the House and Senate still don’t have a budget deal.

In Olympia, legislative budget writers got a shot of good news Friday regarding tax collections.

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President Barack Obama’s budget would spend $2.3 billion on cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in 2016. But it shifts the focus of cleanup. The proposed budget would spend more on cleanup of the tank waste and a massive plant meant to treat that sludge. The President’s proposed budget would cut about $100 million from the Department of Energy’s Richland Operations office.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The agency that oversees child welfare in Washington wants to hire nearly 100 more child protection workers.

But the budget request comes after years of lawsuits that cost the state more than $150 million. Now the question is whether Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services has taken adequate steps to learn from child welfare cases that went awry.

Part of the problem is fresh reports of child abuse and neglect keep pouring in – up 10,000 over the last two years.

'It truly is a crisis'

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has unveiled an $18.6 billion spending plan for the next two years. The Democrat outlined his proposal at the state capitol Monday. Roughly half of the money is marked for education.

Kitzhaber mentioned his budget also includes tax relief for low-income workers.

"To ensure that hard work is actually rewarded with a better life…to ensure that when you get more wages, when your income goes up, you actually have more money, not less money in your pocket," Kitzhaber said.

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Washington state employees have not had a cost-of-living raise in six years. But that could change in the next budget cycle.

Counties across the Northwest are heavily dependent on timber revenue from federal lands have been struggling to provide public health services. Now, one county in Oregon has told the state it will no longer provide those services. That's left state officials scrambling to figure out how to cover the gap. Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Colin Fogarty / Northwest News Network

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is directing state agencies to identify 15 percent cuts in the next budget. The directive comes as the latest revenue forecast out Tuesday shows an ongoing sluggish recovery. State budget director David Schumacher says the budget-cutting exercise does not mean all agencies will be cut by 15 percent.

Budget Deal Struck In Washington Legislature

Mar 13, 2014
Tradnor / Wikimedia Commons

Washington public schools will get an additional nearly $60 million, but teachers will not get a cost of living raise this year. That’s the upshot of a budget deal that’s being announced at this hour at the Capitol in Olympia.

Cacophany / Wikimedia Commons

The Washington Senate is proposing the creation or extension of nearly two dozen tax breaks – mostly for businesses. Governor Jay Inslee supports the largest of those tax incentives. But overall the Senate package unveiled Monday runs counter to the Democratic governor’s push to eliminate several tax exemptions to pay for education.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Fighting wildfires would be funded more like hurricane and flood response under a proposal out of the Northwest that won President Obama's endorsement . The plan is being advanced by a bipartisan team of Oregon and Idaho senators in reaction to the growing cost of massive wildfires.

Pot Tax Revenue Estimates Likely Hazy

Feb 24, 2014
Scott Beale / Flickr

Within the next year marijuana taxes will start arriving in Washington state coffers. But how much money can the state realistically expect to take in from legal, recreational pot sales? Washington’s revenue forecaster recently unveiled his first estimate, but the numbers may be a bit hazy.

Washington is about to get a new stream of revenue into its coffers – from marijuana taxes.

More prison beds, but no cost of living raises for school teachers are two takeaways after Washington Governor Jay Inslee proposed a modest update to the state’s two-year budget.

Competition Seeks To Save Money At Hanford

Nov 25, 2013
U.S. Department of Energy

Managers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are looking for creative ways to save money at the southeast Washington site. They’re holding an idea competition with federal and contractor employees called the Grand Challenge. 

Three federal contractors at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation say they’ll lay off 450 workers over the next year.

The number of families on cash assistance in Washington has hit an all-time low. This follows a spike in welfare enrollment less than three years ago.

Oregon's economy is holding steady. That was the word from state economists as they delivered a quarterly update on the revenue picture to lawmakers.

Oregon lawmakers craft a spending plan and then keep their fingers crossed that all of the anticipated revenue materializes over the next two years. A legislative panel got its first update since the close of the session last month about whether or not that spending plan is in jeopardy.

The answer: For now, things are holding course.

murray.senate.gov

Several months into federal sequestration budget cuts, some of the most severe reductions are just now taking effect.

Oregon lawmakers have adjourned their 2013 legislative session. The final gavel fell just before 3 p.m. Monday.

House Speaker Tina Kotek carefully calibrated the final gavel to time it just right with her Senate colleague on the other side of the capitol rotunda. She then said to cheers, "The 77th legislative assembly is hereby adjourned Sine Die."

It's still not clear when the Oregon legislature will wrap up its work for the year. Lawmakers could vote as soon as Tuesday on a controversial package that would raise some taxes and cut benefits to retired public employees.

But lawmakers have other work to do, such as finalizing budgets for several large state agencies.

One might expect that they would be in a great hurry to get out of here before the Fourth of July but remember, their original adjournment target was last Friday, June 28th. So they've already blown through that deadline.

Oregon schools will get a sizeable increase in state funding after the Oregon House gave final approval to a spending plan for K-12 schools. Supporters say it will protect most districts from cuts.

When combined with a separate bill to cut public pensions, the education budget gives Oregon schools an additional $1 billion dollars to spend statewide. The plan had been tied up in a political showdown in the Senate but it passed the House by a wide margin.

Oregon Lawmakers Head Into Final Days Of Session

Jul 1, 2013

Oregon lawmakers are heading into the home stretch of their legislative session Monday. The closing days could include some high stakes votes over taxes and public pension cuts. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Austin Jenkins

Washington Governor Jay Inslee can claim some significant legislative wins, along with several losses now that the legislature has finally adjourned. The Democrat’s first dance with lawmakers was made more difficult when Republicans and two breakaway Democrats took control of the state senate. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has this look at the governor’s record.

Austin Jenkins

The Washington legislature adjourned over the weekend. And late Sunday Governor Jay Inslee signed into law a new state budget. It officially averted a government shutdown Monday. The Democratic governor offered this list of what he considers highlights in the budget.

The Washington Senate has passed a two-year operating budget on a 44 to 4 vote. It now goes to the House for debate.

The sudden momentum in Olympia Friday follows weeks of budget gridlock. But in order to find common ground, both the House and Senate gave up things they wanted. That included all but one tax exemption that Democrats proposed to repeal.

The Washington legislature hopes to deliver a budget to Governor Jay Inslee by the end of business Friday. This after the House and Senate reached a handshake deal on a $33.6 billion state budget for the next two years. The agreement – after weeks of negotiations – should avert a government shutdown on Monday.

The official announcement came from Governor Inslee who was flanked by legislative leaders. “We are happy," he said. "And I know we are all relieved, to report to you that lawmakers have reached agreement on an operating budget for the next biennium.”

A major component of the Oregon budget is on the move in the legislature again. The Oregon Senate Wednesday signed off on the spending plan for K-12 schools. It comes one week after the same budget proposal failed.

Oregon schools get the bulk of their money through the legislature. This budget would represent a sizable boost over last time. But the proposal failed on the Senate floor last week when one Democrat joined with all of the Republicans to block it.

A spokesperson for Washington Governor Jay Inslee said Tuesday lawmakers have agreed to large components of a new state budget and are working through smaller details. They’re running out of time to agree on a two-year budget deal before the existing budget expires this Sunday.

  Meanwhile, 34 state agencies are preparing to close Monday if there’s no deal by then. Virginia Painter with the state parks department says this would be just in time for their busiest week of the year, surrounding the Fourth of July.

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