Tag: chris gregoire
Gov. Chris Gregoire is asking state lawmakers to approve a $1.50-per-barrel charge on oil products from Washington state refineries, to raise billions for operation and maintenance of the state transportation system.
At the Tacoma News-Tribune, Jordan Schrader has a report.
Much of the state’s transportation budget now comes from taxes on gasoline at the pump. Any increase in that tax is immediately visible to state residents. By adding a charge on fuel at the refinery, instead of raising the taxes on gasoline, the impact on the taxpayer would be far less visible. But we can only assume that the money collected at the refinery will be factored into the price we pay at the pump.
(Still to be determined is whether Gregoire’s proposed revenue-raiser is legally a “tax” or a “fee.” If it is a “fee,” it can be imposed by a simple majority of legislators. Schrader explains that.)
The state is already taxing crude oil products (and other potential pollutants) in the state, in order to fund a voter-mandated toxic cleanup program that the Port of Bellingham is tapping to help clean up the tainted pulp mill site on the waterfront. (The state is also tapping that money for other purposes to cover its revenue shortfalls, but that’s another topic. Or is it?)
What do you think? Is it better for the state to raise transportation money at the pump, or at the refinery?
As much as half the output from state refineries (including two in Whatcom County) is sold outside the state. People who buy Washington-origin gasoline without ever using the Washington state transportation system will be the biggest losers, I suppose.
But Bill Kidd, spokesman for the BP Cherry Point refinery in Whatcom County, argues that this state’s refiners are competing for market share outside the state, and competitive pressures may keep them from passing the full cost of any new state charges on to the rest of us.
“Historically, we have not opposed gas taxes at the pump,” Kidd said. “I don’t see any industry clamoring to have a huge new tax put on them that they may not be able to pass along.”
Kidd estimated that Gregoire’s proposal would cost BP about $100 million per year.
BP reported $5 billion in net income in the 3rd quarter of 2011. The company is investing $400 million in a refinery upgrade here to enable the production of lower-sulfur diesel fuel, as the law requires.
I have also contacted spokesmen for the ConocoPhillips refinery, as well as the Western States Petroleum Association, for their viewpoint. What’s yours?
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire says the state needs an extra half-billion bucks over the next couple of years to cover education and public safety costs in a time of recession, and she wants the State Legislature to ask voters to approve a one-half-percent sales tax hike to raise that money.
The Seattle P-i reports.
According to the AP, (via P-I) the vote on the tax could come in March 2012, if legislators agree.
Here’s a direct link to the governor’s statement.
Also, at the Washington Secretary of State’s office, David Ammons tells us that the legislature would need to approve the measure by Dec. 30 to get the tax hike to the voters on a March 13 ballot.
Ammons provides lots of useful links on his own blog post here.
From the Associated Press, via Seattlepi.com: The Washington State Supreme Court has rejected the city of Seattle’s attempt to get Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna out of litigation aimed at blocking President Obama’s health care reform law.
I don’t have the legal opinion in front of me, but it appears that the justices held that Seattle has no legal standing to block McKenna’s involvement. At the same time, they indicated that the governor may outrank McKenna even though McKenna is independently elected, and the governor may have the authority to order the AG off the case.
But they didn’t actually rule on that possibility, because it was not in front of them in the lawsuit filed by the city of Seattle.
Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office has filed legal briefs supporting Obama’s reforms. Gregoire is not seeking reelection. McKenna is expected to be the GOP candidate to replace her.
Erroneous. Malicious. Ignorant. Those are three adjectives that Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Randall Watts used today (June 15) in a letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire, responding to an earlier letter to the governor from Mayor Dan Pike. And that was just in the first couple of paragraphs.
Pike had asked the governor to intervene in the review of SSA Marine’s Gateway Pacific Terminal project, a deep-water shipping facility that would ship coal and other cargoes to Asia via a pier at Cherry Point.
As of now, Whatcom County is the lead agency for the review of SSA Marine’s permit applications, and the lengthy environmental impact study process that has yet to get under way in earnest. Pike asked the governor to order state agencies to take over the lead agency status.
Watts’ letter says the county has already asked the Washington Department of Ecology to join the county as a co-lead agency.
“Though Mr. Pike’s letter appears to be in agreement, we feel we need to respond to his erroneous and malicious statements,” Watts’ letter says, asserting that there is no legal authority for a state agency to step in and take over lead agency status from the county without county consent.
Pike also asked the governor to include the city on the “Multi-Agency Permitting Team” of state, federal and county agencies with jurisdiction over the Gateway Pacific project. Watts argued this would be wrong, since the team agencies are supposed to conduct an unbiased review of the project and Pike has already taken a strong stand against it.
Watts also challenged Pike’s assertion that the county appears unwilling to consider the impact that increased rail traffic to a new cargo terminal would have on the Bellingham waterfront. Watts contended that in April 2011, county staff had already assured Pike that those impacts will be part of the study process.
Despite the hot language, the letter seems to indicate that the county, too, would be receptive to a total state takeover of lead agency status.
“Setting aside Mayor Pike’s erroneous statements, political grandstanding and blatant disrespect for Whatcom County staff, we wish to continue our discussion regarding the State Department of Ecology to be in part or in whole the lead agency for the EIS,” the letter says. “We are hoping the Department of Ecology will agree with Whatcom County to be co-lead or lead for the EIS (environmental impact statement) soon.”
It’s official. Gov. Chris Gregoire won’t seek a third term. The AP reports.
Gov. Chris Gregoire will be holding a press conference in the next few minutes to announce her future plans, and numerous mainstream media sites and bloggers agree: She’ll announce she won’t seek a third term.
Here’s the word from Politico, reporting that bad poll numbers played a big role in Gregoire’s decision.
I’m guessing it will take awhile for interest groups, reporters and everybody else to figure out all the implications of a new biennial state budget that is on the brink of approval as I write this Tuesday, May 24.
The AFL-CIO’s news site, The Stand, carried blistering criticism of the budget deal. Brendan Williams, a former state representative, said Washington state government is in some ways worse than Wisconsin’s, where the stripping of collective bargaining rights from many state workers recently made national headlines. A restructuring aimed at cutting the cost of worker compensation was labeled “shameful.”
The Association of Washington Business lauded the worker comp changes but said more alterations are needed to keep the state’s businesses competitive.
In this report from The Associated Press, Gov. Chris Gregoire and other state officials are starting to plan for the worst: the passing of the deadline for completion of a new state budget. That would likely mean financial gridlock for all state government functions except the state patrol and prison systems, the AP says.
But the state House and Senate have had a difficult time reaching agreement on a new budget, even though Democrats enjoy a majority in both chambers. Go figure.
A lawsuit challenging the distribution of state fuel tax money to Washington’s tribal governments was dismissed last week in Gray’s Harbor Superior Court, but a gas station owners’ group plans to appeal that action to the Washington Supreme Court.
The suit, brought by Automotive United Trades Organization, says the state’s arrangement with tribal governments enables tribal-operated gas stations to undercut the prices its members must charge to stay in business.
Here’s an extensive report on the suit and the whole issue of tribal gasoline sales by Scott Gutierrez at SeattlePI-com.
AUTO is headed by Tim Hamilton, who is my go-to guy on stories about gasoline prices and supply in western Washington.
In this lengthy analysis for the Seattle Times, Andrew Garber reports on the newfound budget-cutting zeal of Gov. Chris Gregoire as she tries to close the state budget gap while arguing with fellow Democrats about what must be done.
Her comments on the education system are perhaps the most interesting. She complains that she added huge amounts of money to the education system but saw little or no results.
“I came in here determined to make the system work better,” Gregoire says. ” To invest more money. I put a lot more money into K-12. But then you sit there and say, ‘Why have I not been able to get the result I set out to achieve?’ ”
Later in the article, she accuses education interest groups of putting their own welfare ahead of students:
“No matter how hard you try to make change, there are always those who want to protect something or another,” she said. “I’ll use education because I think it’s a perfect example. Do they want to protect it because it’s right for the kids? Do they even think about whether it’s right for the kids?”
As U.S. House Republicans move toward a repeal vote on health care reform, Democrats are launching a vigorous effort to defend the bill — an effort that seems a lot more coherent than anything they were able to muster while the bill was before Congress, or while Democratic Congressmen were before voters last November.
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services is offering a state-by-state analysis of what health care repeal would mean. And HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Gov. Chris Gregoire have scheduled a joint conference call to discuss how many state residents are benefitting from the reforms.
Here’s a link to HHS statistics for Washington state.
At the same time, there is evidence that health care reform is getting some grudging support in unexpected quarters. A recent AP poll showed that while opposition to it remains strong, that opposition is waning and even opponents see things they like in the complex legislation.
The AP report on poll results includes this: “Among Republicans support for repeal has dropped sharply, from 61 percent after the elections to 49 percent now.”
That’s striking. One can speculate that many conservative Republicans may be realizing that the reform bill contains benefits for them. Millions of Americans have pre-existing medical conditions that are costly to treat, and the health care reform law eventually will make it easier for them to get affordable coverage. You don’t have to be a liberal to find that prospect attractive. The Los Angeles Times has a report.
Another sign that politicians on both sides of the aisle are taking a more nuanced approach: Via Huffington Post, physician and former GOP Senator Bill Frist says his party should get beyond the repeal effort and focus on using the existing law as a platform to build a better health care system for everyone.
In red state Oklahoma, a poll in the Tulsa World indicates that many Sooners feel as conflicted on this issue as a Ron Paul supporter cashing a Social Security check. Two-thirds favored Oklahoma taking legal efforts to block the health-care reform, but only 37 percent said the entire law should be repealed. And, even among those who said the entire law should be repealed, about two-thirds then identified at least one element of it they thought should be retained.