budget

It appears more likely Washington lawmakers will go into an overtime session. The regular 105-day session ends this Sunday. But the House and Senate, along with the governor, still have to agree on a two-year budget deal. Even if a deal was at hand -- and it doesn’t appear one is -- they’d be cutting it close.

Washington House Democrats are getting praise and scorn for their proposed $1.3 billion tax package for schools. At a public hearing Friday lawmakers heard tales of hardship from people for and against the tax measure.

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber told lawmakers Monday to approach a possible sales tax with caution. Oregon is one of five states without a sales tax and critics say that leaves state finances vulnerable to economic ups and downs.

The governor told a Senate panel that a sales tax is one possible component of a major overhaul to the state's tax code. But he said it can only happen if Oregonians are on-board.

SALEM, Ore. – Democrats in the Oregon House are backing away from a key aspect of their budget-balancing tax measure. They’re no longer proposing to end the deduction for charitable donations for some high-income earners. The move Monday comes in the face of withering criticism from nonprofits.

The original plan would have applied only to households earning more than $250,000. Majority Democrats said it would have affected less than 3 percent of Oregon taxpayers. But nonprofits complained that those taxpayers are the ones with the ability to make bigger donations.

On Tax Day, Oregon Lawmakers Consider A Sales Tax

Apr 15, 2013

One of the most politically sensitive topics in Oregon is up for debate at the state capitol Monday. Lawmakers will hold a hearing on whether to ask Oregon voters to approve a sales tax. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington House Democrats have unveiled a proposed two-year budget that looks a lot like Governor Jay Inslee’s. It would renew expiring tax hikes, close several tax exemptions and put the new money into public schools.

House Democrats would actually spend a tad more than the governor. But their approach is very similar. For example: extend an expiring tax on beer and end the sales tax exemption for bottled water and shoppers from sales tax free Oregon.

SALEM, Ore. – Democrats in the Oregon legislature are offering up more details of their plan to raise an additional $275 million for the upcoming budget. High-income earners and some businesses would pay more under the proposal, which was released Tuesday.

Democratic leaders say under their plan, less than five percent of Oregonians would pay more in taxes. The increases are aimed at households earning more than $250,000. Those taxpayers would be able to claim fewer deductions and exemptions on their tax returns.

Congress is back in session this week. The House will discuss two proposals that would increase logging in federal forests to raise money for struggling timber counties. Amelia Templeton of EarthFix reports.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Transportation leaders in the Washington Senate have proposed what they call a “barebones” roads, ferries and transit budget for the next two years. The spending plan rolled out Wednesday in Olympia includes no new sources of funding for highway projects.

Republican Curtis King co-chairs the Senate Transportation committee. At a press conference, he acknowledged there’s a lot of pressure for a gas tax package this year.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The mostly Republican majority in the Washington state Senate has unveiled its budget proposal. It would put $1 billion more into basic education without raising taxes. The spending blueprint released Wednesday contrasts sharply with what Governor Jay Inslee proposed last week.

Washington Dream Act Unlikely to Clear Senate

Apr 2, 2013

Supporters of the so-called Washington Dream Act plan to make one more uphill push in Olympia Tuesday. The measure would extend state financial aid to eligible college students who are in the US illegally. Hopes for the bill dwindled this weekend as a key state senator spoke out against the measure. KUOW’s Liz Jones reports.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – On the campaign trail, Washington Governor Jay Inslee talked about financing education by growing the economy. Now the Democrat proposes to raise $1.2 billion for schools by extending some tax increases and ending some tax breaks.

In Spokane last June I moderated the first gubernatorial debate between Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna. And I put this question to both candidates: if elected, would you ask voters to support a new tax for schools to respond to the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling that the state is not adequately funding education.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee wants to close or curtail a dozen tax breaks and continue a couple of tax increases that are about to expire. The money raised – more than a billion dollars – would be earmarked for public schools. The plan unveiled Thursday is part of the Democrat’s budget priorities for the next two years. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – More than 100 health care advocates gathered in Olympia in support of Medicaid expansion Thursday. It coincided with an announcement by Gov. Jay Inslee, unveiling his budget priorities. His proposal includes an expansion of Medicaid.

That pleases Lauren Granger, a healthcare worker at the rally.

“I really hope that the legislature hears this message and isn’t pinching pennies in the wrong place and just have it be more expensive later on,” she says.

SALEM, Ore. – Public employees in Oregon are voicing their objections to a measure aimed at cutting the cost of public pensions. They packed a legislative hearing in Salem Wednesday. Legislative budget-writers have floated a proposal that would limit cost of living increases for retired workers.

James Jacobsen is an administrative assistant in the College of Education at the University of Oregon. He expects to retire in about four years. And he says lawmakers are looking for cash in the wrong place.

Jessica Paterson / Flickr

Democrats in the Oregon legislature are bracing themselves for a backlash against a public pension cost cutting proposal they released Monday. The plan would create a sliding scale to cap cost of living increases for retired public workers. Budget-writers hope to apply the savings to education funding.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Budget writers in Olympia are breathing a sigh of relief. Despite the federal sequester and other risks to the economy, the state’s new revenue forecast out Wednesday is mostly flat. Even so, Washington lawmakers still face a $1 billion-plus shortfall and a court-ordered down payment for public schools.

Washington Senate Majority Wants More Higher Ed Funding

Mar 19, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The mostly Republican majority in the Washington state Senate want to spend an extra $300 million on higher education. Tuesday, Republican budget-writers unveiled a plan that would increase money universities receive and fully fund the state’s prepaid tuition program.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s nearly $1 billion shortfall could grow after Wednesday’s revenue forecast. The state already faces higher than expected Medicaid costs. It’s widely expected the March forecast will show revenues coming in lower than expected. The governor and legislative budget writers have been waiting to see what the forecast brings before they roll out their spending proposals.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Hopes for a rosier budget outlook in Washington are dimming. Expected savings in Medicaid haven’t materialized. And many state lawmakers expect this week’s quarterly revenue forecast to show a downward slide. Add to that, a Supreme Court ruling that requires more funding for schools.

In response, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee is expected to announce soon a list of tax “loopholes” – as he calls them – he wants to eliminate to fund schools. But closing tax exemptions is easier said than done.

Murray At Center Stage Guiding Democratic Budget Plan

Mar 13, 2013
U.S. Senate

Washington U.S. Senator Patty Murray took center stage in the other Washington Wednesday. She’s the new chair the U.S. Senate’s budget committee. In that role, Murray outlined the Democrats’ 10-year plan to get the nation closer to a balanced budget.

Trails Of Trouble On Wild Lands

Mar 13, 2013
Jay Krajic

Some federal budget cuts can be found in places you might not be looking -- deep in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. As EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz explains, for hikers and horse packers, frustration is mounting over the state of disrepair of recreational trails on public land.

SALEM, Ore. – Republicans and Democrats at Oregon's capitol want to balance the state budget by taking aim at the pension system for public workers. Both parties as well as Governor John Kitzhaber say changes to the retirement system would help prevent more cuts to schools. But retirees claim the proposals would break a promise.

Budget Debate Kicks Off In Salem

Mar 5, 2013
Photo by Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

The stage is now set for a protracted battle over the upcoming state spending plan in Oregon. Legislative budget-writers Monday released a proposal that relies on rolling back tax breaks and reducing benefits to retired public workers. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

The latest state budget plans released Monday in Salem are drawing mixed reviews from the education community.

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon legislature's chief budget writers released their proposed two-year spending plan Monday. The two Democrats in charge of drawing up the budget outline say all of the numbers are subject to negotiation. But state Senator Richard Devlin and state Representative Peter Buckley say it will be hard to persuade them to lower the $6.75 billion they've set aside for K-12 education.

Sequestration has apparently led to a “get out of jail free” card for some detainees at an immigration lockup in Tacoma. With budget cuts looming, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that it’s shifting some detainees around the country to supervised release. KUOW’s Liz Jones reports.

Photo courtesy I Corps, U.S. Army

Northwest military bases, universities, national labs and parks await guidance for how to implement automatic federal budget cuts. The so-called "sequester" is scheduled to take effect at the end of this week. Not much else is certain beyond that including who in the region could feel the pain immediately, if anyone. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers now have a better sense of how much money they'll have to put together a budget. State forecasters Friday announced their latest revenue projections.

The bottom line: Things keep getting better. But not by much. State economist Mark McMullen told a legislative panel that corporate and personal income tax projections continue to rise. But he says the rate of increase isn't as strong as previous economic recoveries.

The federal government’s across-the-board spending cuts could hit soon in western Oregon. Congressman Greg Walden says the feds plan to apply the so called sequester cut this week to a program for timber dependent counties. Amelia Templeton of EarthFix reports.

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