Budget crisis

Last week, several media outlets and advocacy groups began circulating the same sad story: Because of sequestration, 60 low-income families in Dane County, Wis., were soon to be homeless.

But the truth is more complicated.

The story began with a blog post written in February by Dane County Housing Authority Executive Director Rob Dicke.

Inconveniencing the public is part of the plan.

It may never have been intended to play out in quite this way, but the automatic spending cuts set to take effect for most federal programs Friday leave little room for preserving the most visible and popular programs.

"The law basically says the cuts have to be across-the-board by 'project, program and activity,' " says Stan Collender, a federal budget expert with the communications firm Qorvis. "That was specifically written to take away flexibility from the administration."

TACOMA, Wash. — The Tacoma city manager says the city will have to cut 217 employee positions and impose a $20 car license tax to help close a $63 million gap in next year's budget. City Manager T.C. Broadnax delivered the grim news Tuesday to the city council with his $396 million spending plan. The News Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/QXoGmm) the budget will go through public hearings before the council adopts a final plan in December.

The Seattle City Council is facing a $1.1 billion shortfall in its pension fund, according to a report to the Government Performance and Finance Committee (first noted by the politics and government blog Publicola).

The organization that oversees Washington state's nearly 29,000 lawyers is scrambling to deal with a big budget gap, after the attorneys voted to reduce their own dues.

The Washington State Bar Association says it will likely have to cut a variety of programs, including those that support legal aid to the poor.

RICHLAND, Wash. — The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory plans to lay off 45 employees this week.

The cutbacks are in order to adjust to the latest federal budget approved in December.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire would like to see a tax on roll-your-own cigarettes included in any final budget deal.

Gregoire’s comments Monday come at the start of week two of the legislature’s special session. Lawmakers are trying to hammer out a deal to close a roughly $500 million shortfall.

The tax on self-rolled smokes would only raise $12 million toward rebalancing the budget. But Gregoire still thinks it’s worthwhile.

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.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Two credit rating agencies have delivered a warning to the State of Washington to get its financial house in order. The ratings agencies lowered the outlook for Washington state debt, citing the magnitude of the budget shortfall.

State Parks leaders have decided to go ahead with planned layoffs, even after the Legislature asked them not to. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Supreme Court is considering arguments over the debt troubles surrounding Wenatchee's events arena.

Justices heard debate Tuesday about whether the area's public facilities district should be able to refinance nearly $42 million.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington state lawmakers begin their 2012 session with no agreement in sight for how to solve major budget shortfall.

In the House of Representatives Monday, leaders from both parties laid out different visions for how they would balance the budget.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A one billion dollar budget shortfall, taxes and gay marriage are all on the agenda as the Washington legislature convenes Monday. But the timeframe is short – just 60 days – and already the Governor’s push for gay marriage is setting off partisan tension.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire wants the state to handle local business tax collections, saying a streamlined system would save small businesses time and money.

Gregoire's proposal on Thursday would take the duties away from local jurisdictions, similar to how the state currently collects and distributes sales tax money.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Chris Gregoire has approved a plan to ease the state's $1.4 billion shortfall.

Gregoire signed a new budget Tuesday that uses a variety of cuts, transfers and delayed payments to save $480 million.

Washington Legislature adjourns special session

Dec 15, 2011

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are headed home for the holidays. The legislature adjourned its special session Wednesday afternoon after taking a nearly $500 million bite out of the state budget gap.

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire called lawmakers back for 30 days to close a $2 billion hole. Instead, they stayed 17 and addressed about a quarter of the problem.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — State lawmakers are looking to trim $479 million off the state's $1.4 billion shortfall through a combination of cuts, fund transfers and delayed payments.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire appears to have given up hope of a balanced budget on her desk by Christmas. Instead, this week her budget director sent lawmakers a shorter wish list to get done before they adjourn for the holidays.

The protesters have gone home. So have many lawmakers.

But majority Democrats in the Washington legislature say they will be back next week with a goal. Cut the $1.4 billion budget shortfall down by, say, $500 million.

The secret list

Dozens of Fortune 500 companies paid no net state income taxes over the past three years, including one in the Pacific Northwest. That's one of the findings of a report issued Wednesday by a liberal think tank.

The report examined federal Securities and Exchange Commission filings from the more than half of Fortune 500 companies that reported profits over the past three years.

Those filings show how much each company paid in state income taxes nationwide. The results varied widely, even among companies in the same industry.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s state park system is facing an emergency funding crisis. The Parks Commission will meet Tuesday to vote on a plan to immediately cut $11 million from the budget.

The crisis comes as sales of the new Discover Pass lag.

The U.S. Postal Service is moving forward with plans to close 252 processing facilities, end next-day mail service, and restrict service to rural areas.

TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma is notifying 166 city employees Monday their jobs could be cut as the city deals with a $23 million budget deficit.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Wenatchee-area agency is defaulting on its debt but still may get support from the state Legislature.

Democratic Rep. Ross Hunter said Thursday that his committee will consider a measure that would make a belated payment on the $42 million bond debt.

Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – State troopers arrested ten people at the Washington state capitol Tuesday. Four of them after protesters disrupted a Washington legislative committee.

Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — After compiling reports on Monday night's demonstration at the Capitol in Olympia, the Washington State Patrol says a total of six troopers were injured in clashes with protesters, five more than first reported.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A panel of state lawmakers is considering a $42 million bailout package for a Wenatchee-area agency.

The Greater Wenatchee Regional Events Center Public Facilities District has been unable to pay off short-term debt for the Town Toyota Center arena.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Protesters disrupted the start to Washington's 30-day special session. Lawmakers have returned to the Capitol to deal with a $1.4 billion budget shortfall.

Students and others associated with the Occupy movement took over the House and Senate galleries and delayed a budget committee hearing.

A new poll shows that 64 percent of Washington voters are likely to support a temporary sales tax increase to mitigate cuts to education and social services.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire says it’s time to look for new sources of funding for the state budget. That’s a major shift from her position a year ago. The Democrat’s comments today came after she proposed another $2 billion in cuts.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington agency that processes unemployment claims is planning layoffs of their own. The Employment Security Department issued notice Friday that it will cut 222 jobs in January.