BILL REQ. #:  S-0219.1 


State of Washington61st Legislature2009 Regular Session

By Senator Franklin

Read first time 01/12/09.   Referred to Committee on Ways & Means.

     AN ACT Relating to studying Washington's fiscal resources, structure, and needs; creating new sections; and providing an expiration date.


NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1   The legislature finds that Washington has a unique tax structure that relies heavily on property and sales taxes to fund a host of services for its citizens. Education, health care, transportation projects, the criminal justice system, state parks, and social programs are paid for by state taxes. Tedious and complicated, many citizens do not fully understand how the budget process works, how all moneys are raised, and why there never seems to be enough revenue. The legislature finds that creating opportunities for citizens to participate in the process can counter negative public perceptions about the budget process. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to establish a committee, made up of ordinary citizens, to study the state's fiscal resources, structure, and needs.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2   (1) The Washington state institute for public policy must facilitate and staff a group of Washington citizens to become the committee on Washington's finances. The committee must consist of citizens of the state. The institute must devise, publicize, and implement an application program so that ordinary citizens may apply to be members of the committee. No later than July 30, 2009, the institute must select the members of the committee from the applicants. In selecting members, the institute must use diversity of geographic, work, education, and civic participation to balance the committee. An elected official may not be a member of the committee. The institute must strive to appoint citizens who are not closely connected with the political process, but instead are active or interested in their communities. Staff of the office of financial management, the department or revenue, the house of representatives, and the senate must assist the committee as the committee deems desirable.
     (2) The members of the committee must elect a chair. Members of the committee must serve without compensation, but must be reimbursed for travel expenses under RCW 43.03.050 and 43.03.060.
     (3) The committee must hold meetings in at least four areas outside the central Puget Sound region to receive information and feedback from Washington's citizens. These meetings must be facilitated by the Washington state institute for public policy.
     (4) The purpose of the study is to determine the best ways to identify and fund the necessary services for Washington's citizens. The committee must study at a minimum the following:
     (a) The latest biennial budget passed by the legislature;
     (b) The Washington state tax structure; and
     (c) Identifying items in the budget that should not be funded, as well as identifying items that should have been included in the budget. In identifying the items that should or should not be in the budget under this subsection (4)(c), the committee must identify the appropriate tax increases or tax decreases that would coincide with the budget changes identified.
     (5) The committee must present a final report of the findings of the study and the alternatives developed by the committee to the ways and means committee in the senate and the finance committee in the house of representatives by November 30, 2010. Additionally, the findings of the study must be announced to the public via press release and the findings must be made available to the public via the internet.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3   This act expires November 30, 2010.

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