Challenges mount for fossil fuel projects

For several years, oil terminal projects have been in the works at the Port of Grays Harbor in Hoquiam—Westway and Imperium. The Imperium project was canceled by the company in 2016, and Westway is now called Contanda.

How Washington state ranks on federal aid

The Tax Foundation is out with a new ranking: "Which States Rely the Most on Federal Aid?" Washington state is #33, with 29.2 percent of its Fiscal Year 2014 state general revenue coming from the federal government.

The Foundation notes:

2017 Legislative Session Starts Today

The state Legislature begins its 2017 session today. This being an odd-numbered year, session is scheduled to last 105 days, with an April 23 adjournment date. Almost nobody believes lawmakers will finish their business by then, however, in which case the governor can call a special session (or a series of special sessions as the case may be).

Big issues on tap for this year include:

Lawmakers on K-12 funding panel issue competing recommendations

In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, every year on Feb. 2 residents await the sign of a groundhog - Punxsutawney Phil - to forecast the onset of spring. In the Washington state Legislature, lawmakers and other observers were awaiting a sign yesterday of how much members of the Joint Education Task Force could agree on solutions for full state funding of K-12 education (as required by the state Supreme Court's McCleary ruling) in 2017.

Local government budgeting issues

At the Municipal Research and Services Center’s blog, Stan Finkelstein offers some useful budgeting advice for local governments. He notes,

Many local officials have incorporated into their 2017 budgets the filling of new positions, expansion or growth of services, and the incurring of new debt to be serviced by General Fund/Current Expense revenues.

Roundup of year-end agency news

A number of agency announcements have made my inbox over the last month:

Common Ground podcast: David Postman, Gov. Inslee's Chief of Staff

Our last podcast of the year is in a pub, with special guest David Postman, Gov. Jay Inslee's chief of staff. We sit down over beers (and a Coke for Postman, who's on cold meds) at the delightful Hopvine Pub in Seattle to chat about Postman's career in journalism and now government, as well as what's in store for the upcoming legislative session.

Auditor: Room for improvement in agencies’ implementation of the Regulatory Fairness Act

The State Auditor’s Office has identified several ways to make Washington’s Regulatory Fairness Act work better. This new performance audit is part of a regulatory reform series the SAO began in 2011.

Gov. Inslee's within-existing-revenues budget alternative ignores McCleary

The governor is required by law to propose a budget that balances within existing revenues—this is called the “Book 1” budget. The 2017–19 operating budget Gov. Inslee proposed last week certainly did not meet that criteria, but it represents his preferred spending program. It would increase near general fund–state plus opportunity pathways (NGFS+) spending by $8.242 billion.

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