Washington State Legislature

Wash. special session
3:17 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

New senate budget could jumpstart talks

State Sen. Rodney Tom, one of three break-away Democrats, speaks about a new budget proposal from the Senate’s “philosophical majority.” Photo by Austin Jenkins

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 12:00 am

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s special session got off to a slow start. But now there are signs that stalled budget negotiations are inching forward. Senate Republicans Thursday rolled out a fresh budget proposal – one that would not cut education.

The coalition that took over the Washington state Senate a couple of weeks ago and passed a budget is back. This time the 22 Republicans and 3 break-away Democrats have a new plan to re-balance the books. One that would restore more than $70 million in cuts to K-12 and higher education.

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Washington State Legislature
11:17 am
Fri March 9, 2012

Wash. Legislature adjourns; special session starts Monday

Legislators and staff celebrate on the Senate floor after adjournment. By Austin Jenkins.

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 12:00 am

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington legislature has adjourned. But not for long. Late Thursday night, Senate Democrats failed to muster the votes for a plan to re-balance the state budget. That means Washington lawmakers will return to the Capitol to finish their work.

Before there was disharmony at the Capitol, there was actually a little harmony.

Four House Republicans serenaded Governor Chris Gregoire and her staff with a barbershop rendition of "I'll Fly Away."

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Washington State Legislature
1:00 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Governor signs bill revamping teacher evaluations

The governor has signed a measure that will add improvement in student test scores to the list of things principals use to evaluate teachers.

The new law signed Thursday also changes the way principals are evaluated, adding teacher feedback as an element of their reviews.

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Washington State Legislature
10:00 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Gregoire confirms need for special session

Originally published on Wed March 7, 2012 12:00 am

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire acknowledged Wednesday afternoon that a special session of the legislature will be necessary to re-balance the state budget. But Gregoire says she’s still trying to keep the pressure on lawmakers to come to an agreement.

“The minute I say special session, they’ll go to sleep. They’ll stop working. And the public expects more.”

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3:02 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Wenatchee-area default results in new reform law

A view of the Toyota Town Center in Wentachee, Wash. Photo by Austin Jenkins

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 12:00 am

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A follow-up now to a story we first brought you in December. It was about the default of an under-performing hockey and concert arena in Wenatchee, Washington. Governor Chris Gregoire recently signed into law a rescue plan for that project. But the new law also aims to prevent future municipal defaults.

Here’s the quick back story. On December 1st of last year, the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee went into default. This happened after the two counties and seven small cities that backed the events center missed a $42 million balloon payment.

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Washington State Legislature
4:16 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Tension lingers after budget coup in Washington senate

Originally published on Mon March 5, 2012 12:00 am

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Tension lingers in Olympia as Washington legislators head into what is supposed to be the last week of session. The task of re-balancing the state budget was put into disarray on Friday when Republicans and centrist Democrats took over the state Senate.

Senate Republican Leader Joseph Zarelli says he doubts a compromise budget can happen before the scheduled adjournment on Thursday.

“I don’t know how we’ll get a budget done by the end of this so we’re pretty much assured, I think, we’re going to see a special session,” Zarelli says.

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10:45 am
Sun March 4, 2012

Minority Republicans force budget to floor of Wash. Senate

It was standing room only in the Senate galleries for the GOP take-over of the floor. Photo by Austin Jenkins

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 12:00 am

OLYMPIA, Wash. – There was high drama on the floor of the Washington state Senate last Friday. Three Democrats broke ranks to join minority Republicans. It was a coup of sorts. This newly formed “philosophical majority” took control of the Senate and forced four bills to the floor -– including an alternate budget-balancing proposal.

Senate Republican leader Mike Hewitt said the GOP “unlocked the gridlock” over the budget. Senator Rodney Tom was one of the Democratic defectors.

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Washington State Legislature
5:33 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

GOP senators take control of Washington Senate

The Senate gallery was packed as Republican Senators took over the chamber from Democrats. Photo by Austin Jenkins.

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 12:00 am

GOP Senators Take Control Of Washington Senate

copy for now March 2, 2012 Austin Jenkins/cf

OLYMPIA, Wash. - It's been a day of high drama in the Washington state Senate. Republicans took control of the chamber with the help of three Democratic colleagues. Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt told reporters that GOP Senators, in his words, "unlocked the gridlock" over the state budget. Earlier, Democratic budget writers said they were one vote shy of passing their proposal to plug a gap in the state's two year spending plan.

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Washington State Legislature
9:45 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Wash. Legislature passes teacher evaluation bill

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state Legislature has approved a bill that uses improvement in student test scores as a factor in hiring, firing and tenure decisions for teachers.

The measure passed on an 82-16 bipartisan vote late Wednesday night. The Senate already had passed the bill, so it now goes to the governor for her signature.

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Washington State Legislature
5:04 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Wash. House passes bill pressuring sex ad sellers

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state Legislature has passed a bill going after classified advertising companies that don't demand ID before allowing sex-related ads to be posted online. The measure is primarily targeted at Backpage.com.

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Washington State Legislature
3:36 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Washington House Dems roll out budget; no general tax increase

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Majority Democrats in the Washington state House have unveiled a plan to rebalance the state’s budget. The spending blueprint released Tuesday does not call for a general tax increase. But it would delay a massive payment to public schools. It also relies on savings from reduced demand for state services.

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Washington State Legislature
9:27 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Revenue forecast up as tax idea loses steam

Governor Chris Gregoire is backing off her proposal for a half-penny sales tax increase. The shift comes after Thursday’s positive revenue forecast. It shows a nearly $100 million bump in state revenues.

Just a few days ago, Governor Gregoire was standing in the Senate wings surrounded by reporters. And she reiterated her support for a temporary sales tax increase to offset budget cuts.

“We’re in tough times," Gregoire said. "We need a little help from the public to get us through for the next three years until we get our feet on the ground again.”

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Washington State Legislature
4:08 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Most new money in transpo budget would go to 520

OLYMPIA, Wash. — House Transportation leaders are unveiling their proposed supplemental transportation budget with $770 million in new spending, most of it pegged to the 520 bridge replacement project.

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Washington State Legislature
9:46 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Washington Democrats may find path to avoid sales tax measure

If Washington's new revenue forecast is positive, the state may avoid the governor's proposal to ask voters to approve a half-penny sales tax hike. Photo by Austin Jenkins

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 5:31 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democrats in the Washington legislature are suddenly hopeful they can rebalance the state budget without asking voters to approve a tax hike. Their optimism comes even before they see the latest revenue forecast out Thursday.

For majority Democrats the budget stars could be aligning. A new caseload forecast shows demand for state services is down. That means the current $900 million budget hole drops to less than $600 million. Plus, House Republicans have reversed their position and now support ending a tax break for out of state banks.

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Budget crisis
2:43 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Legislature edges closer to budget solution for Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Republicans and Democrats are merging closer on tax policy as they begin to formulate solutions on the state's budget shortfall.

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