Saturday, January 16, 2010

Washington State City and County Taxes in Context: Short Term Help for All

On Tuesday the Washington State House Finance Committee will have a hearing, and take testimony, on at least three bills that are intended to allow local control of limited taxes, for a limited time.
Finance* -  01/19/10  1:30 pm
Full Committee
House Hearing Rm C
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA
REVISED 1/14/2010 3:16 PM
Public Hearing:  
HB 2650 - Providing local flexibility with existing revenues during severe economic downturns.
HB 2749 - Concerning local government taxation.
HB 2773 - Concerning local excise tax authorities for counties and cities.
Committee Meeting Documents
Note: Documents are not available online until the meeting has begun.

HB 2650 allows cities and counties that collect a tax for new infrastructure for things like parks, libraries, police and fire training facilities, trails, etc., to also allow that money to be used for maintenence of capital facilities.

HB 2749 removes "nonsupplant" language from effected taxes. This allows a city like Spokane, or Seattle, to take a city budget item off thier general fund capital maintenence budget and supplant the state authorized tax sources to pay for this things.

HB 2773 "A county legislative authority may authorize, fix, and impose a sales and use tax until December 31, 2014. To retain or impose the tax after December 31, 2014, the county must submit an authorizing proposition to the county voters at a primary or general election and a majority of persons voting must approve the continuation or imposition of the sales and use tax."

For the followers of SB 6116 these other bills could mean a few things, conflicting things.
You could view this as supporting, and allowing, the City of Seattle, and King County, the ability to solve some of their general fund shortages by redirecting some of these taxes. That is true, to a point. The first two are aimed at non-core government functions.
In a way the first two bills isolate these "wants" from the "must do's". Still, those wants have an impact on may, many, lives.

The last bill is short term funding that has an end in 2014, and requires a public vote of simple majority to extend the tax. SB6116 does this for King County, and so maybe King County does not need SB 6116. On the other hand, try passing SB 6116 for King County and tell the 38 counties they can not do the same.
This could take the urgency out of passing SB 6116, or it could be a segue to cleaning up the laundry list of wants in that bill.

No matter, no other county, or city, can say something special is being given to Seattle and King County, and that may help. Every municipality is struggling right now. Local control over how and what to do about it is a useful context to have right now.

Remember, many hands make light work.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It lives

Senate Bill 6116 lives:

Jan 11  By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status.

So, 5 minutes before the end of the last session ended they recall bills to thier last committee, Rules Committee, and reinstate those bills at the beginning of the session. So, lots of bills were reintroduced, and are back in play.

I have a bill tracker email alert set up, if this moves, I'll find out. You know, this could sit there for 55 days and get sent back to the floor. My guess is that this could be a Christmas Tree

Sunday, January 10, 2010

60 Days of Low Expectations

On New Years Eve I gave my eight 2010 predictions, this one applies here:
6, and 7. The Washington State Legislature's "short session" begins January 12, and runs fir 60 days. Urbanized counties will "horse trade" levy equalization in "tax poor" rural school distrcts for broader taxing authority in the "tax rich" districts. A lot hangs in the balance for Dow Constantine here, and he will show leadership here.
ManyWordsForRain, Predictions for 2010.

If anything is done that benefits KeyArena, it would be purely by accident. Accidents do happen, you just can not depend on them.

I will be watching and reporting. Tomorrow is day one of sixty.
Off topic, Onion Head Monster should be on Adult Swim!