Washington Policy Blog

Justices receive political contributions from lead party in charter school lawsuit

October 31, 2014 in Blog

New research finds that some justices on the state supreme court have received political contributions from a lead party in a key lawsuit now before the court.

Parties in the case, League of Women Voters, Washington Education Association, et al vs State of Washington, are asking the court to strike down Washington’s charter school law, passed by voters in 2012, and bar children from attending a charter public school. 

WSU Project Reducing Gluten Toxicity Using Biotechnology Crops: A GMO Update

October 30, 2014 in Blog

This year, voters in Oregon will decide on a GMO labeling initiative similar to the one Washington residents turned down last year. During last year's campaign, we noted that Washington State University was developing a strain of wheat that would eliminate or greatly reduce the gluten toxicity. We thought it would be a good time to check in on the progress of this effort.

Will public employee pension costs cause your property taxes to increase?

October 30, 2014 in Blog

The House Finance Committee held a work session yesterday focused on the fiscal health of Washington's cities and counties. Among the presentations lawmakers heard was a pitch from the Washington Association of Counties to provide local governments more flexibility on existing tax sources while providing new tax options. One recommendation in particular of note from the Counties:

Ocean Acidification: Ecology Admits Science "Is Not There" to Claim Oyster Deaths

October 29, 2014 in Blog

Note: Prior to publication, we shared this with Ecology for factchecking and to verify our interpretation of our discussion. They offered some edits and we have included all of them in the text below.

One reason Seattle-area traffic is horrible – state officials do not consider congestion relief a priority

October 28, 2014 in Blog

The Seattle Times reported on this morning’s horrendous traffic jams, noting politics and policy choices are getting in the way of providing people with congestion relief. Transportation reporter Mike Lindblom noted, “Congestion relief is no longer an official top priority of Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)” as it was in the past. In 2007 lawmakers re-prioritized transportation spending to achieve five goals with transportation money. They added a sixth in 2010.

A look at three claims being made about Initiative 1351

October 28, 2014 in Blog

Union executives have spent $3.5 million promoting Initiative 1351, because they stand to profit by up to $7.4 million a year in new member dues taken from public education budgets.  If it passes, they could double their “investment” in the first year.

Teacher cuts at Garfield High shows why families need more school choices

October 27, 2014 in Blog

Nine weeks after classes started, students at Garfield High School in Seattle learned last week that they will be losing one of their teachers.

Administrators at the state’s largest school district, overseen by Board President Sharon Peaslee and six other board members, informed Garfield and five other local schools they planned to take away one of their teachers.

Updated legislative tax survey results

October 23, 2014 in Blog

Earlier this month we published the results of our legislative tax survey that asked legislators and candidates the following question:

Survey question to lawmakers and candidates: Would you vote to allow the people of Washington to have the opportunity to vote on a state constitution amendment to require a supermajority vote in the Legislature to raise taxes?

A Work Force of Robots: Part 2

October 23, 2014 in Blog

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal published an outstanding editorial pointing out the predictable response of businesses to a higher minimum wage—automation.

After posting a grim quarterly earnings report of a 30% decline in profits on a 5% decrease in sales, McDonald’s plans to begin replacing workers with machines. 

Will Boeing Become a Workforce of Robots?

October 22, 2014 in Blog

After years of strife with the Machinists union, Boeing is embracing a new approach to building the future 777X.   The new approach?  Robots.

The surprising and growing opposition to Initiative 1351

October 22, 2014 in Blog

It’s widely assumed that Initiative 1351, the ballot measure that purports to reduce class sizes, will pass by a wide margin.  The initiative title has bumper-sticker attractiveness, it faces no organized opposition, and executives at the powerful WEA and other unions are putting $3.5 million of their members’ dues money behind it. (In Washington, teachers must pay the union as a condition of employment.) 

Initiative 1351 is like voting for puppies and apple pie

October 21, 2014 in Blog

Backers of Initiative 1351 are asking voters to support reduced class sizes without providing a way to pay for it.  Smaller class sizes without higher taxes – who wouldn’t be for that?  As one skeptic quipped, it’s like asking people to vote for puppies and apple pie. 

WPC debates Initiative 1351 on TVW's Inside Olympia

October 20, 2014 in Blog

Watch below as WPC's Education Director, Liv Finne, debates Initiative 1351 on TVW's Inside Olympia.

Washington state’s highway performance ranks 42nd best in United States

October 17, 2014 in Blog

A report released last month by the Reason Foundation ranks Washington as the state with the 42nd best highway performance out of the 50 U.S. states. Just three years ago, the state ranked 24th among other states. Washington received poor marks because “mileage in poor condition (on urban and rural Interstates and rural arterials) increased considerably, despite increased spending (relative to the U.S. average).”

Some findings from the study: