Washington Policy Blog

Yakima boasts nation’s third highest “real” minimum wage; $15 Now wants more

September 2, 2015 in Blog

As voters in Tacoma and Spokane prepare to decide whether to increase their cities’ minimum wage, $15 Now has set the rural city of Yakima in its sights.

The union-backed movement plans a rally today in Yakima to launch their campaign to force employers in that city to pay all workers a $15 minimum wage.  The group, Working Washington, has called for Yakima's agricultural, fast food and other entry-level-wage workers to join them in demanding the same $15 wage as workers in Seatac and Spokane.

The Latest GAO Report Recommends More Federal Control of Medicaid

August 29, 2015 in Blog

Last month, the federal General Accounting Office (GAO) released its latest Medicaid report, which is detailed and relies on past reports for background.

Spokane union executives plan hurtful strike as 30,000 children head back to school

August 28, 2015 in Blog

Spokane teachers’ union executives today convinced union members to call a strike on September 4th if their demands for higher pay are not met. Their strike action would close school doors during the first week of school, just as 30,200 children are getting settled in the classroom.

The union demands are not yet clear, but they are likely seeking a raise on top of the 3% cost of living pay raise the state legislature has already approved for teachers. That increase was funded in the latest state budget.

Why are our public schools hit by strikes every year?

August 27, 2015 in Blog

As the days grow shorter and the nights grow cooler, families across Washington prepare for a yearly ritual, getting kids ready to go back to school.  And too many families have to prepare for a different ritual – when a union-led teacher strike hits their local school.

As predictably as the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, teacher strikes close schools in parts of Washington each year with depressing regularity.

State Supreme Court issues landmark public records ruling on text messages

August 27, 2015 in Blog

In a 9-0 decision this morning the state Supreme Court ruled that the text messages of government employees that relate to official business, even on their private phone, are public records. From the ruling

Popular charter public schools to open in Seattle, Tacoma and other communities

August 26, 2015 in Blog

Eight new charter public schools are opening this fall in Seattle, Tacoma, Kent, Highline and Spokane.  Together the schools will serve more than 1,300 students.  The schools are authorized under a state law approved by voters in 2012 to provide expanded educational opportunities for children, especially those from low-income families and underserved communities.

Parents like Tam Nguyen, mother of a 5th grade boy, and Natalie Hester Johnson, whose daughter is entering high school, say they asked “tons of questions” before enrolling their children in a charter school.

State rejected WFSE request to pay employees for not crossing strike picket lines

August 26, 2015 in Blog

Now that the 2015-17 state budget has been signed into law the public is able to request details from last summer's secret contract negotiations between state employee unions and Governor Inslee's office. I just received the first batch of public records (more to come in October) with some of these details.

Gas tax increase means bigger public payouts to for-profit tribal businesses

August 25, 2015 in Blog

In Washington state, for-profit businesses owned by 24 Indian tribes have special agreements to receive payments out of the public treasury. Under an arrangement made by Governor Gregoire in 2007, 19 of these tribes receive “refund” payments equal to 75% of the state gas tax on all motor vehicle fuel sold on tribal lands.

Take 2: Is Initiative 1366 a constitutional amendment?

August 21, 2015 in Blog

Last month we posed this question: Is Initiative 1366 a constitutional amendment? The answer to this question will determine whether voters will have the opportunity to pass their own judgement on the policies proposed by the ballot measure. 

Another project in Seattle goes overbudget

August 21, 2015 in Blog

KING 5 News reported today that the Seattle Seawall Project will take a year longer to build than officials promised. In addition, Seattle officials have increased the project budget from the original $290 million price tag to $409 million, a 33% increase.

Union executives want strike to close Pasco schools, even though teacher compensation is twice average wage of area families

August 18, 2015 in Blog

Pasco union executives say they will call teachers out on strike if their demands for higher pay are not met by August 30th. Their strike action would close classrooms to students across the area, just as families are preparing to send children back to school.

The union wants an 11% pay increase, on top of the 3% pay raise the state legislature already approved for teachers, funded in the latest budget.

CO-OPs Remain at Risk

August 17, 2015 in Blog

Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, or CO-OPs, were placed in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as an alternative to the public option. During the health care debate in 2009, proponents of more government control wanted a program that would compete with private insurance companies, hence the public option.

Despite promises of faster commutes, Seattle’s transit-only lanes failing drivers

August 17, 2015 in Blog

The recent news story about public officials not letting the Ride the Ducks group tour vehicles use bus lanes has renewed a controversy over reserving parts of public streets for transit only. Last year, KOMO TV reported many in the public are unhappy with the government-restricted lanes, including the tagger of the well-known plea, “Metro stop stealing our lanes.”  The public response prompted a debate about whether the lanes are working for people or not.