December 15, 2014
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Congress moves forward on $1 trillion government funding measure, avoids shutdown



Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown last week when the U.S. House of Representatives voted 219-206 for a $1.01 trillion bill to fund federal governmental operations through Sept. 30, 2015.

The so-called “continuing resolution omnibus bill” passed three hours before a midnight deadline that could have meant a governmental shutdown. It angered both the liberal wing of the Democratic party and conservative tea party members due to provisions that ease campaign finance rules and limits on trading of derivatives by banks.

Supporters say it is a carefully-negotiated bipartisan bill that funds nearly all governmental departments until next October. The exception is the Department of Homeland Security, which is only funded until February. This sets up a heated debate over President Barack Obama’s executive action last month on immigration.



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CAN WE AFFORD IT?

Budget 101: State employee pay raises 'financially feasible'?

By Rob McKenna, Smarter Government Washington

Under state law, any collectively bargained pay raises and benefit increases for state employees must be declared "financially feasible for the state" by the Office of Financial Management (OFM). While this review sounds like a good idea, it isn't useful if OFM chooses to willfully ignore reality so that it can give its stamp of approval.

That's the situation the state currently finds itself in. The Governor's Office negotiated pay and benefit hikes with state employee unions, and OFM has declared the new costs to be financially feasible "considering the state's obligations...in combination with the current and forecasted economic and revenue conditions for Washington.

Apparently OFM considers the McCleary education funding case to be mere detail...

READ MORE: Click here for the full commentary at Smarter Government Washington
WHAT WORKS

State can move forward on transportation -- by looking back

By Sen. Curtis King

Amid all the finger-pointing and half-truths regarding the Legislature's alleged failure to pass and fund a transportation plan, a glance back at the 2003 "nickel package" provides the best tutorial on how to successfully get a transportation-revenue package through the Legislature and to the governor's desk. The themes from over a decade ago run startlingly parallel to today.

READ MORE: Click here for the full commentary in Crosscut
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