Washington Policy Blog

Seattle leaders’ tax-increase plan to save Metro Transit is a solution looking for a problem

July 25, 2014 in Blog

Seattle voters will have their say in November on another tax plan to “save” Metro bus service. Last week, the Seattle City Council voted to send the tax-increase plan to the November ballot with the following text:

The Seattle Transportation Benefit District’s Proposition 1 concerns funding for Metro Transit service.

Centralia School District Defrauds Medicaid

July 25, 2014 in Blog

 

It was recently reported that the Centralia School District submitted false financial claims to the Medicaid program at least 200 times.[1] What does a school district have to do with Medicaid, a health insurance entitlement for children of poor families?

Obamacare Architect on Record for Agreeing with D.C. Appeals Court Decision

July 25, 2014 in Blog

On July 22nd, the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit ruled in a 2 to 1 decision that the residents of any state that used the federal health insurance exchange could not legally receive taxpayer subsidies to help them purchase health insurance. (Here) The language in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, is very specific.

King County Council reverses position; keeps 96% of Metro bus service on the road

July 24, 2014 in Blog

Earlier this week, the King County Council unanimously passed an ordinance to preserve 96% of Metro bus service by only adopting a 161,000-hour service cut on September 27th. Metro provides about 3.5 million hours of bus service to King County.  King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski said the following about the adopted cuts (emphasis mine):

Job Growth in States That Increased the Minimum Wage Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story

July 24, 2014 in Blog

Advocates of a higher minimum wage have seized onto new data from the Department of Labor showing higher than average job growth in states that increased their minimum wage this year.   According to the DOL data, 12 of the 13 states that increased their minimum wages at the beginning of this year averaged slightly higher job growth (.85%) from January through June than the 37 states whose minimums did not increase (.61%).   Minimum wage supporters say this pro

If Science is Created and Nobody Listens, Does It Make a Difference?

July 23, 2014 in Blog

Few things set off the government waste alarms like state agencies proposing to spend money on "branding."

Attorney General's statement on Centralia School District's Medicaid fraud

July 23, 2014 in Blog

Last Friday my colleague Liv Finne highlighted a disturbing case of the Centralia School District committing Medicaid fraud. Last night I received this statement from the Attorney General's Office concerning the $372,000 settlement agreement with the school district:

Small Business Owners Say Washington’s Business Climate is Getting Worse

July 22, 2014 in Blog

According to small business owners, Washington State’s already difficult business climate is getting worse.

The third annual Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey asked more than 12,000 small business owners across the nation to rank state and city friendliness to their business across various categories, such as the cost of hiring a new employee, tax burden, regulations, and licensing requirements. 

Schools must offer school choice and tutoring, say federal officials

July 22, 2014 in Blog

Yesterday, the AP announced that Superintendent Dorn’s latest effort to avoid the consequences of losing Washington’s waiver from the federal education law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), has failed.

Huge Blow to Obamacare Today

July 22, 2014 in Blog

In a potentially huge blow to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, the U.S. Appeals Court for the D. C. Circuit today ruled in a 2-1 decision that the I.R.S. lacked the authority to allow subsidies to be provided in health insurance exchanges not run by individual states (Halbig vs Burwell). (Here)

Seven new charter school applications submitted for approval

July 21, 2014 in Blog

Last week seven groups of educators submitted their applications to open a new charter school in Washington. This is the second round of approvals under the voters’ charter school law, Initiative 1240, passed in 2012. The law allows up to eight charter schools to open per year, for a total of forty schools over five years.  If less than eight spots are filled one year, the unfilled spots can be filled a subsequent year.  

Centralia School District defrauds Medicaid, pays $372,000 to settle investigation

July 18, 2014 in Blog

Superintendent resigns and takes job with Yelm School District, Principal has “continuing contract” protections

On July 11, the Centralia School District (CSD), a district of 3,494 students south of Olympia, agreed to pay the Washington State Health Care Authority the sum of $372,000 to settle an investigation into how the district managed the Medicaid Administrative Mat

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.