Washington Policy Blog

Legislature approves budget/transportation package; averts government shutdown but work still to be done for budget to balance

July 1, 2015 in Blog

With just hours to spare before a partial state government shutdown, the legislature overwhelmingly adopted the state’s 2015-17 budget. By a vote of 38-10 in the Senate and 90-8 in the House, lawmakers approved a $38.2 billion biennial budget ($79 billion all funds). This represents a 13% increase in spending from the 2013-15 budget.

New state budget to spend $2.9 billion more on public schools; 19% increase is one of largest in state history

June 30, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday, after 165 days of discussion and negotiation, lawmakers in Olympia reached agreement on a state budget for 2015-17.  The new budget will increase spending on K-12 public schools from the current $15.26 billion to $18.15 billion, an increase of 19%. Lawmakers achieved this large rise in spending with the natural increase in current revenues, without imposing new taxes on Washington families and business owners.

Legislature unanimously passes long standing WPC recommendation to prioritize congestion relief

June 30, 2015 in Blog

Lawmakers have again made reducing traffic congestion a top priority for state officials. Prior to 2007, the state used performance-based benchmarks to make sure that transportation tax dollars were being used effectively to reduce traffic congestion. In 2007, lawmakers repealed that language and replaced it five goals of transportation policy. State lawmakers added a sixth policy goal in 2010. Congestion relief is not among them.

Not Olympia's finest hour for government transparency

June 30, 2015 in Blog

It is wonderful news the state won't be facing a government shutdown and that a major transportation investment package with good reforms is moving forward but the last week, the past 72 hrs in particular, have been very embarrassing for the cause of an open and transparent legislative process.

Attorney General Ferguson wants to limit how customers learn about effects of $15 wage law

June 29, 2015 in Blog

As employers in SeaTac and Seattle comply with those cities’ new $15 wage law, some have added a surcharge to their customers’ bills to cover the cost of the higher mandated wages.  The surcharge policy has the added benefit of transparency, showing customers how prices have gone up as a result of the change in the law. 

Seattle Environmentalists' Bold Plan To Reduce Air Pollution by Up To 0.5%, Ten Years From Now

June 29, 2015 in Blog

This weekend, Governor Inslee announced he would forego mandating a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) as part of the agreement on a transportation package. The environmental community had been making a last-ditch push on the LCFS, including taking out ads and an e-mail blitz to their members.

The primary talking point has been that an LCFS would improve air quality and reduce asthma. That claim, however, is not supported by any science, including the Governor's own reports.

Many have made the link between the LCFS and air quality.

Every School: One Citizen’s Guide to Transforming Education

June 26, 2015 in Blog

Education leader Don Nielsen gave a fascinating and informative presentation recently at the Discovery Institute in Seattle about his new reform book "Every School." Watch the video here:

Every School: One Citizen’s Guide to Transforming Education

Read the summary here. 

Movie review of new charter school documentary

June 26, 2015 in Blog

Recently I asked my research assistant Katherine Hill to watch the new documentary on charter schools called “Most Likely to Succeed” and to write a short description of it.  Here is her review.

Review of "Most Likely to Succeed," by Katherine Hill

Ruling in the Latest Challenge to the Affordable Care Act Released Today

June 25, 2015 in Blog

This morning the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled on the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare - the King v. Burwell lawsuit. You can read about the ruling here. This suit deals with the legality of people receiving subsidies in the health insurance exchange established by the federal government. Some 36 states elected to use the federal exchange rather than set up their own exchange. Washington state is one of the 14 that established a state exchange.

Oregon lawmakers work to repeal costly low carbon fuel standard rules, while in Washington, the fight over imposing similar rules stalls passage of key transportation bill

June 24, 2015 in Blog

Oregon Governor Kate Brown is working with a bi-partisan group of lawmakers to repeal the state’s low carbon fuel standard regulations (LCFS) as part of passing a broad congestion-relief transportation package.  The agreement shows how a governor and lawmakers of both parties can come together to pass important legislation that serves the people of their state.  Unfortunately, things are working differently in Washington.

3 states without budget using continuing resolution to avoid government shutdown

June 24, 2015 in Blog

South Carolina, North Carolina and New Hampshire are in the same boat as Washington with a major budget fight threatening a government shutdown on July 1. Those three states, however, are using a continuing resolution to keep government open while budget negotiations continue.

Details here:

State Commission votes to continue Seattle charter school for homeless families

June 24, 2015 in Blog

After months of suspense and threats of closure, members of the state Charter School Commission narrowly voted Thursday to allow First Place Scholars charter school, located in Seattle’s Central District, to continue operations.  The school serves some 75 low-income and homeless families, including a number of special needs children, who otherwise would have difficulty gaining access to a quality public education.

Talks on state transportation package shut down; pitting new taxes against funding for public projects

June 20, 2015 in Blog

According to House Transportation Committee Chair Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island), Democratic leaders have decided to halt work on a transportation package until state leaders agree on a state operating budget.  House leaders say they want to work on passing a new capital gains income tax, despite receiving $3.2 billion in new revenue under current tax rates.

Ocean Acidification Update from a Shellfish Grower on the Front Line

June 19, 2015 in Blog

Over the past year, there have been many claims about ocean acidification and the impact on oysters. Many of those claims have withered under scrutiny. Taylor Shellfish is on the front line of dealing with environmental issues facing oyster growers. They agreed to answer questions about the current state of science and what they are facing. What follows are their answers and do not reflect our views.

Seattle's Air Quality and Climate Change: Day 4

June 19, 2015 in Blog

The clouds moved in yesterday, but the high temperature was still about six degrees above average. Again, this correlates to the high end of the temperature projections for 2100 according to the IPCC.

Despite those temperatures, once again, air quality in the Puget Sound area was good: