Washington Policy Blog

Starbucks prices increasing more in Seattle area…could the $15 minimum wage be a factor?

July 7, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday Starbucks announced an increase in drink prices that will go into effect in its stores around the country.  Most notable though, was the company’s decision to increase prices even higher in the Puget Sound region.   Customers in the greater Seattle area (which includes King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties) will pay an average of about 3.5% more, while customers in other areas will pay just 1% more.

A Win For Association Health Plans in Washington State

July 6, 2015 in Blog

Several weeks ago we wrote that Association Health Plans (AHPs) were under attack in Washington state.

Could rule changes strengthen state's balance budget requirement?

July 6, 2015 in Blog

You wouldn't know it from the fact that the days old 2015-17 budget has never been balanced and was signed into law with a $2 billion hole but Washington has one of the strongest statutory balanced budget requirements in the country. Per RCW 43.88.055 "The legislature must adopt a four-year balanced budget . . ."

Vancouver, B.C. voters reject light rail and subway projects

July 2, 2015 in Blog

While Sound Transit officials prepare to ask people living in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties to pay billions in new taxes for more costly light rail projects, they may be experiencing nervous shock at what just happened in a neighboring city to the north.  Voters in Metro Vancouver, B.C. just handed a resounding “No” to local transit officials, coming in 62% against a proposed subway and light rail expansion project.

Is reducing class sizes the best way to improve student learning?

July 2, 2015 in Blog

Completion of this year’s legislative session is on hold for the moment, and the just-completed 2015-17 state budget faces a $2 billion hole, because of a late-breaking dispute over funding for Initiative 1351, the class-size reduction initiative. 

Is Obamacare Really Working?

July 1, 2015 in Blog

After the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision on King versus Burwell, proponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, have not only claimed victory, but are telling the rest of the country to get over it and just accept the ACA as the law of the land. They claim that millions of people have health insurance through the ACA, that the uninsured rate is dropping and that premium price increases, at least in the individual market, are slowing.

$2 billion hole blown in brand new 2015-17 budget

July 1, 2015 in Blog

Around 11:30 p.m. last night (30 minutes before a government shutdown) Governor Inslee signed the state's 2015-17 budget. Though the new budget is only a few hours old, there is already a $2 billion cloud hanging over it.

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