1. We're pretty obsessed with the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee (JLARC), the group that assesses tax breaks.
Yesterday, we filed two reports on their latest presentation to the house finance committee—including a post on how the citizen commission that works in conjunction with JLARC diverged from JLARC's official recommendations several times, advising the legislature to scrap tax breaks that JLARC kept in place. For example, re: one tax break for high-tech research and development worth $114 million per biennium that JLARC kept in place, the citizen commission dissented, noting that the break
created approximately 454 new jobs between 2004 and 2009 at an overall cost in terms of foregone tax revenue of approximately $20.5 million per year or $45,000 per job. However, new earnings per job were estimated to amount to $25,000. Even allowing for measurement errors, it is clear that the cost of these preferences greatly exceeds the estimated benefits.
Finance committee member Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-46, N. Seattle) seized on the citizen commission dissent. Pollet is the vice chair of the house higher education committee, and yesterday, after the Republicans proposed adding $300 million to higher education without saying where the boost would come from, Pollet coyly cheered the GOP's intentions—"I'm encouraged that our colleagues in the Senate Republican Caucus have joined the conversation on higher-education funding ... As always, of course, the question is how to pay for [it]. The proposal doesn't pay for itself."
"As always, of course, the question is how to pay for [it]. The proposal doesn't pay for itself."—Rep. Gerry Pollet
Pollet turned to the data on the high-tech tax break.
The citizen's commission had concluded its analysis of the high-tech giveaway by noting that "the Legislature’s objective to create 'quality' employment opportunities ... might be achieved more cost effectively in other ways such as partnering with the high technology R&D industry to provide educational and training programs that develop human resources skills needed by the industry."
Pollet has proposed ending the $114 million tax break and putting it toward higher ed: "This new revenue would provide the state’s share of funding for nearly 3,000 community and technical college students for one year."
2. Speaking of tax breaks, Fizz expects Gov. Jay Inslee to also make some use of the JLARC report. (Since 2007, JLARC has recommended terminating seven tax breaks, worth nearly $100 million.) Today, after the first post-sequester revenue forecast is expected to elevate the state's budget shortfall to recession-era levels, Gov. Inslee is reportedly going to roll out hundreds of millions dollars worth of tax loopholes that could be canceled.
"Stable housing is a key component in reducing recidivism risks."
3. The Republican-controlled senate has sent a batch of bills over to the house that would scale back tenants' rights, including one that would postpone a requirement that landlords install carbon monoxide detectors; it's scheduled for a hearing in the house tomorrow.
Another one is scheduled for a hearing in the house today. This bill would limit the use of housing vouchers and voucher programs for former offenders who have been released by the Department of Corrections. It was initially opposed in committee by reliable lefty Seattle-area Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-11, Beacon Hill), but ultimately passed off the senate floor unanimously.
"Stable housing is a key component in reducing recidivism risks," Tenants Union of Washington spokesman Jonathan Grant said in a statement opposing the bill.