Washington Policy Blog

As a gesture of goodwill, the state could lower tolls on the 520 bridge next week

July 18, 2014 in Blog

Starting tonight, three westbound lanes of Interstate 90 across Lake Washington will be closed for bridge construction. Despite pleas from the public, state officials are pressing forward with their plan to impose fully-priced tolls on those hit hardest by the road closure. The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC), the agency responsible for tolling in the region, said they cannot exempt the public from paying tolls on SR-520 during the I-90 construction project, because it needs the $1.3 million in revenue to pay back debt.

Why doesn’t the WSDOT help us out next week?

July 17, 2014 in Blog

Starting tomorrow night, three westbound lanes of Interstate 90 across Lake Washington will be closed for a week due to bridge repairs. The construction could lead to crippling congestion for cars and buses across and around the lake. The unusual shut down has irritated many in the public, who look to state officials to reduce or eliminate the tolls on SR-520 to ease some of the frustration. The Washington State Transportation Commission, responsible for tolling in the region, responded:

WFSE says state compensation contract offer is "totally unacceptable"

July 17, 2014 in Blog

Define a "totally unacceptable" compensation contract offer: Is it no raise? A 2% raise? A 6% raise? A 10% raise? Due to the fact the negotiations currently under way between the Governor's office and state employee unions are secret and prohibit public access we have no idea what the union deems to be "totally unacceptable" and neither do union members for that matter.

Resources for Benton County Proposition 14-5: Public Safety Sales Tax Increase

July 16, 2014 in Blog

Ballots are starting to arrive in Benton County for the August 5 primary. One measure voters will be considering is Proposition 14-5, a proposal to increase the local sales tax rate by 0.3 percent and collect approximately $9 million per year for increased public safety spending.

Here are the Key Findings of our study reviewing Proposition 14-5:

Greater Use of Over-the-Counter Drugs for Consumer-Driven Health Care

July 15, 2014 in Blog

One issue that is often overlooked in the discussion of patient-driven health care is access to therapeutic drugs. Specifically, should patients, as consumers, have greater choices in over-the-counter (OTC) drugs?

As recently as thirty years ago patients only had access to very basic OTC drugs such as aspirin, Tylenol and anti-acids. Now people can freely obtain a wide variety of drugs to treat ulcers, colds, the flu, as well as a much broader choice of pain medication.

State and local pension payments could increase by $1.2 billion for 2015-17

July 15, 2014 in Blog

Members of the state Select Committee on Pension Policy met today to approve one of three options concerning assumptions for government pensions in Washington.

Governor Inslee's Proposal on Toxics: Will We Be "Duped" Again?

July 15, 2014 in Blog

Here’s a simple question: does science say eating salt is too risky?

Is King County Wastewater's $113,000 PR Campaign Effective or Just More Symbolism?

July 15, 2014 in Blog

King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) has a problem. People are flushing things they shouldn't, costing King County taxpayers $120,000 a year to fish out (yuk) and transfer the trash to a landfill.

Seattle City Council switches gears on rideshares; consumers win big

July 14, 2014 in Blog

Last week, the Seattle City Council reversed course and repealed its earlier decision to artificially cap the number of rideshare drivers in the city. Today, the City Council cleared the next hurdle by legalizing rideshares by an eight to one council vote. The decision, based on an agreement spearheaded by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, gives consumers more choices in how they travel around Seattle’s congested streets.

State asks if Court will fine taxpayers for McCleary response

July 14, 2014 in Blog

Circle your calendars for September 3. That is the date we'll start to get a feel for if the state is on a crash course for a full-fledged constitutional crisis or if the respective branches of government will respect the separations of power. The first attempt to back off the current dangerous path was filed last Friday when the state submitted its brief arguing against several proposals to hold the state in contempt concerning its response to the McCleary school funding lawsuit.

The Governor's "Trust Me" Approach to Clean Water

July 11, 2014 in Blog

This week Governor Inslee announced the much anticipated fish consumption rules and allowable cancer rate used to set clean water standards. By estimating how much fish people eat and the cancer risk from eating fish exposed to water pollution, the state determines how clean the water in the Puget Sound and elsewhere must be.

The rule itself won’t be available until the end of September, so it is impossible to make a specific critique, but there are a number of considerations after listening to his press conference. Here they are, in no particular order.

The Truth Behind the Obamacare Sign-up Numbers

July 11, 2014 in Blog

The Commonwealth Fund recently reported that as of May 1, 2014, 20 million people now have health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. A follow-up paper by the Heritage Foundation puts that number in perspective, however.

“No Court Case is Going to Stop Us”

July 9, 2014 in Blog

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Illinois home health care workers cannot be forced to participate in a union or pay “agency fees” or union dues. In Harris v. Quinn, SCOTUS ruled those workers are “partial public employees” and are not subject to a law that allows public sector unions to collect mandatory union dues, or agency fees, as a condition of employment.   

Seattle Times Editorial Board says raising federal gas tax "probably a bad idea" for Washington state

July 7, 2014 in Blog

The Seattle Times Editorial Board says Congress needs to act to fix the soon-to-be-broke Highway Trust Fund, but they say raising the federal 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax is not the way to do it. Lately, Congress has been spending money out of the Highway Trust Fund faster than gas tax money comes in to support it.  The solution, Times editors say, needs to come quickly because Congress only has about 30 days to solve the problem.