Government and Politics

Political news

Kitzhaber's Budget Relies On Cost-Cutting Measures

Nov 29, 2012
Oregon Department of Transportation

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber's proposed budget relies on cost-cutting measures to public pensions, health care and prisons. The Democrat will unveil his two-year spending plan at the state capitol Friday.

Kitzhaber's plan will divide up about $16 billion in expected state revenue. About half of that would go to education, from pre-school through college.

To help pay for the plan, the governor is proposing changes to the state's pension system for public employees. The most significant change would be a cap on cost-of-living increases for retirees.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation
US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Energy still has work to do to improve its own safety culture. That’s the upshot of a recent study on the federal agency that heads environmental cleanup of nuclear waste across the country, including the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A rash of accidental shootings involving kids and unsecured guns has some Washington lawmakers considering a change in the law. A legislative panel will meet Friday to discuss ways to prevent children from getting their hands on firearms.

Washington House of Representatives

Governor-elect Jay Inslee and Washington lawmakers face a nearly $3B conundrum in the next two-year budget. That's the stark assessment of House Budget Chair Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

Hunter outlined the bigger-than-previously-reported budget gap in a PowerPoint slide presentation to fellow House Democrats at the start of two days of pre-session meetings at the Capitol.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Imagine, for a moment, that you're a stately Noble fir, ensconced among your peers amidst a lovely forest on the Oregon coast. Summers are mild, winters are rainy; pretty much everything you could ever want as a tree. You start to think that this might be a nice place to retire.

Murray Urges More Republicans To Break Anti-Tax Pledge

Nov 28, 2012
CSPAN

U.S. Senator Patty Murray is encouraging Republican members of Congress to break campaign pledges to vote against any tax increases. The Washington Democrat made the comments on the floor of the U.S Senate Wednesday.

Murray plays a significant roll in negotiations to over how to avert budget cuts and tax hikes scheduled take effect in January. In recent days, several GOP lawmakers have softened their “No New Taxes” pledge made to conservative activist Grover Norquist.

In recognition of their tenuous majority, Senate Democrats have proposed to give minority Republicans an additional seat on each policy committee, including the budget-writing Ways and Means committee. That would mean Democrats would have just a one vote advantage over Republicans. "No majority, Republican or Democratic, has allowed for such a narrow split in at least a decade," says a Democratic Caucus press release. 

Northwest's Rural Gay Community Coming Out Of The Shadows

Nov 23, 2012
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Washington legalizes same-sex marriage next month at a time when the geography of the Northwest’s gay and lesbian population is changing. Their numbers are still largest in metropolitan areas. But if you look for the biggest increases – that trend is happening in small towns and rural areas. In Idaho more gay and lesbian couples are making a choice that was once unthinkable in rural areas — they’re living openly.

Joe Palisano is used to a certain kind of reaction when he tells people where he lives.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – When Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber unveils his budget proposal November 30, it will include something of a gamble. Advisors say the Democrat's spending plan will include cost-cutting to the state's public pension system. Getting those changes through the legislature — and the courts — will be no easy task. But the cost of the pension system has gone up substantially.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Two southwest Washington legislative races are headed for hand recounts. They are that close. One of them could hand control of the Washington state senate to a coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats.

One hundred and five votes. That’s all that separates incumbent Republican state Senator Don Benton from his trailing Democratic challenger Tim Probst. The two men are battling it out to represent the Vancouver area in the Washington legislature.

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