Washington Policy Blog

The Folly of Connecting Air Quality to Climate Policy

April 15, 2015 in Blog

Today's guest blog is from Dr. Kay Jones. Dr. Jones is a retired U.S. Public Health Service officer.  He served as the senior advisor for air quality at the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) under the Ford and Carter administrations. He was responsible for initiating the national program to investigate the effects of acid rain.

New charter school in New Orleans will add learning choices for students

April 14, 2015 in Blog

Last week National Public Radio interviewed Jonathan Johnson, the founder of the Rooted School, a new charter school opening in New Orleans. Mr. Johnson’s high school program will prepare students for the 7,000 tech-sector jobs predicted to arrive in Louisiana. Mr. Johnson believes students need more options than college. The Rooted School will offer a small-school environment to prepare students for a technical career, in addition to getting ready for college.

Insider Project Labor Agreements likely to inflate construction costs on Seattle public projects

April 10, 2015 in Blog

Earlier this year the Seattle City Council passed Ordinance 124690, forcing the use of costly Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and “Priority Hire” on public projects of $5 million or more. The new rule hurts the public interest because it inflates project costs; studies show PLAs artificially boost project costs by 12% to 18%. PLAs eliminate competitive bidding, pushing labor costs higher than normal market wages.

House passes transportation budget and turns to possible tax increases; anti-ticket scalping bill goes to the Governor

April 10, 2015 in Blog

With just over two weeks to go in the scheduled legislative session, state lawmakers spent long hours this week voting on dozens of bills. Measures not related to the state budget must pass both chambers by next Wednesday to remain viable.

On Thursday, House members passed a proposed transportation budget for 2015-17 by a 78-19 vote. The measure, House Bill 1299, would spend $7.7 billion in existing revenues. It includes provisions to repave nearly 2,100 miles of state highways and repair up to 50 structurally deficient bridges.

Is 2002 state collective bargaining law constitutional?

April 9, 2015 in Blog

On the eve of budget negotiations, Governor Inslee's budget office (Office of Financial Management) sent lawmakers a letter expressing concern with several provisions of their budgets. Among the concerns expressed:

Senate passes no-new-taxes budget; House passes budget, but members avoid floor votes on tax-increase bills

April 8, 2015 in Blog

The Senate voted 26-23 on Monday to approve Senate Bill 5077, a proposed $38 billion spending plan for 2015-17. The proposal includes increases in basic education funding in response to the McCleary court decision, smaller class sizes in grades K-3, a 25% cut in tuition at public colleges and universities, and a $2,000 raise for every state employee.

The Senate-passed plan uses the projected $3 billion in extra revenue the state will receive to increase spending without imposing new taxes.

2015-17 Budget: Senate would cut college tuition, House would allow tuition increases

April 8, 2015 in Blog

The Senate and House proposed budgets for 2015-17 take sharply different approaches to solving the problem of rising tuition at Washington’s public institutions of higher learning. Starting under Governor Gregoire, the state cut funding for public colleges and universities, while at the same time telling administrators they could impose large tuition increases. The increased burden falls hardest on middle–class families trying to gain access to college for their children leaving high school.

Response to Spokane Transit challenge of WPC research

April 8, 2015 in Blog

The following is a response to a Spokane Transit Authority Memo requesting WPC make "corrections" to a recent study on STA's Electric Trolley proposal. WPC's full, 17-page Policy Brief - an Overview of Spokane's Electric Trolley Proposal - can be found here. All sources in the study are provided in the footnotes. The WPC research staff has reviewed each of the points of dispute and provides this additional detail.

Building more light rail is not an effective way to reduce CO2 emissions

April 8, 2015 in Blog

Three elected officials serving on Sound Transit’s Board recently penned an editorial in The Seattle Times calling for a $15 billion increase in regressive taxes to build more light rail. Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Everett City Councilmember Paul Roberts and Redmond Mayor John Marchione argue that building light rail is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions and improve mobility.

Whether to raise taxes to fund state employee contracts sticking point in budget debate

April 7, 2015 in Blog

Now that the House and Senate have approved their versions of the 2015-17 budget, legislative budget negotiators will be hard at work trying to come to an agreement before the end of session on April 26.

Inlander guest columnist gets it wrong on WPC

April 6, 2015 in Blog

In his column The Ties That Bind, published in The Inlander on April 1st, guest commentator Paul Dillon laments the growing opposition to Spokane Transit Authority’s Proposition 1 by attacking Washington Policy Center.  Mr. Dillon’s statement about Washington Policy Center is wrong in a number of ways.

Under "levy swap," taxes voted for local schools would go to Olympia instead

April 6, 2015 in Blog

State lawmakers are debating the merits of an idea called the “levy swap,” in which Olympia would take the money people now pay in local school taxes and redistribute it statewide, while in turn reducing the taxes people pay to local school districts. Still, most parents would likely be upset if they found out the taxes they voted for local schools were going to Olympia instead.

House Democrats pass budget proposal; Senate Republicans to vote on their preferred version Monday

April 3, 2015 in Blog

Lawmakers in both chambers debated their respective proposals for a 2015-17 state spending plan this week, shortly after unveiling and holding public hearings on them.

The House version promoted by majority Democrats, Substitute House Bill 1106, proposes nearly $39 billion in spending and $1.4 billion in new taxes. It passed after a few hours of debate by a 51-47 party line vote on Thursday. The House did not act, however, on the tax-increase bills needed to pay for the proposal.

Transit campaign in Spokane says $300 million tax increase would help... Sound Transit?

April 3, 2015 in Blog

Spokane Transit officials want to increase taxes on Spokane-area families to fund their proposed "Moving Forward" plan, which includes a $72 million electric trolley project. Spokane-area voters will consider the ballot measure on April 28th.

In the effort to convince voters to say "yes," it appears even the "Yes For Buses" transit campaign is confused about what exactly their measure would do.

The trade-offs of Seattle’s minimum wage hike

April 3, 2015 in Blog

While advocates of increasing the minimum wage claim it is a win-win for employers (because people will have more money to spend) and employees (who will earn a higher wage), the reality is much different.

Increasing the minimum wage comes with undeniable trade-offs.