Studying the studies in the budget

Tucked into the $43.7 billion operating budget are several requirements for studies and audits. They didn’t make it into our overview of the budget, but I thought some are worth highlighting:

  • A work group is formed in the House of Representatives “to facilitate public discussions throughout the state regarding Washington’s tax structure.” This may include discussion of the “advantages and disadvantages of the state’s current tax structure and potential options to improve the current structure for the benefit of individuals, families, and businesses in Washington state.” (Section 101 of the bill)
  • A task force will study the feasibility of creating a publicly-owned state bank. Any recommendations must be reported to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2017. (Sec. 123)
  • The State Auditor’s Office will conduct a performance audit of the fee setting for health professions licensed by the Department of Health. A final report is due to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2018. (Sec. 124(1))
  • The Department of Commerce will study Washington’s data center industry to determine “whether changes to existing state policies would result in additional investment and job creation in Washington as well as advance the development of the state’s technology ecosystems.”  The study is due to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2017. (Sec. 128(44)) (Here’s our 2013 report on the industry.)
  • The Office of Financial Management (OFM) must review whether the statewide health claims database may legally use data from drug manufacturers “to bring greater public transparency to prescription drug prices.” The report is due to the Legislature by Dec. 15, 2017. (Sec. 130(5)) (Here’s our 2016 report on prescription drug spending and Medicaid.)
  • OFM must annually report on workforce data and trends. (Sec. 130(11))
  • HB 2163 subjects remote sellers and others to sales tax collection or reporting requirements and eliminates Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement mitigation payments to local governments. Before that elimination occurs, the budget bill requires the Department of Revenue to analyze “if and when expected revenue gains” from the remote seller provisions will equal lost revenues to local taxing districts. A report is due to the Legislature by Nov. 1, 2018. (Sec. 136(3)) (Here’s our report on economic nexus.)
  • The Consolidated Technology Services Agency and the Department of Fish and Wildlife must conduct zero-based budget reviews of their services and programs, to include their statutory basis and an analysis of their costs and benefits. (Sec. 150(7) and Sec. 307(13)(d))
  • The Department of Health must report on the certificate of need program and make suggestions as to how “to increase the number of successful applications. At least one suggestion must address the goal of adding psychiatric beds within hospitals.” (Sec. 219(30))
  • The Department of Children, Youth, and Families must report on quality control measures for the Working Connections Child Care program (WCCC), to include a description of processes that will help avoid overpayments. The report is due by Dec. 1, 2018. Additionally, the department must report annually (beginning July 1, 2018) on the status of overpayments in the WCCC. (Sec. 223(2)(d)(ii) and (iii))
  • The Superintendent of Public Instruction must study the current state pupil transportation funding formula and how it matches the actual costs of providing transportation. (Sec. 501(45))
  • The Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) must update its meta-analysis of the effect of National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification on student outcomes. The report is due by Dec. 15, 2018. (Sec. 610(10))

A few other studies were vetoed by Gov. Inslee:

  • The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee would have been required to compare the “cost efficiency of market rate housing in Washington versus publicly subsidized housing projects intended to assist low-income households.” (Sec. 103(4)) (Roger Valdez of Smart Growth Seattle writes about this veto here.)
  • A “WorkFirst poverty reduction oversight task force” would have been created to reduce the number of people living in poverty. It would have overseen WorkFirst and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families operations and developed accountability measures for recipients. (Sec. 207(12))
  • The Department of Labor and Industries would have studied occupational disease claims and developed “best practices to better identify where employment is the proximate cause of diseases and conditions that are covered under industrial insurance.” (Sec. 217(2)) (For more on this, see this blog post from the Washington Self-Insurers Association.)
  • WSIPP would have studied “comparative constitutional and statutory obligations and revenue capacity of local governments.” (Sec. 610(13))

Add new comment