Washington Policy Blog

Without reform, the ferry system will continue to frustrate passengers

August 21, 2014 in Blog

Many ferry passengers have known for some time that the ferry system in our state is broken. Some state leaders have continuously fought to reform the troubled agency to restore the public trust, only to be met with fierce resistance from powerful labor unions and well-compensated upper management.

Greens Question 95 Percent of Seattle City Light's Carbon-Free Electricity

August 21, 2014 in Blog

Emblazoned across the side of Seattle City Light vehicles is a logo, proclaiming it the "Nation's Greenest Utility." A cornerstone of that claim is that City Light is "carbon neutral."

Less known is that the City Light relies largely on carbon-free hydro and nuclear power, which account for about 94 percent of its energy, to make that claim. Ironically, these energy sources are not recognized as "renewable" by the state.

Governor Inslee opposed to new taxes on internet access

August 21, 2014 in Blog

What seemed almost impossible a few months ago is becoming more probable with each passing day; taxes being charged for internet access. The return of taxes on internet access may occur due to the failure of Congress to either extend temporarily or permanently the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA). The current ban on internet access taxes expires on November 1.

State Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction say letter grades are OK for students, but not for educators

August 20, 2014 in Blog

The State Board of Education objects to using letter grades to make the State Board’s Public School Achievement Index understandable. The State Board ranks school performance, placing schools in one of six categories:  Exemplary, Very Good, Good, Fair, Underperforming and Lowest 5 Percent.

Does Harris v. Quinn apply to individual providers in Washington?

August 20, 2014 in Blog

That was the question I was hoping to answer today but after reviewing the state's August 20th response to the Centeno v. Dept. of Social & Health Services lawsuit in federal court the elusive answer will have to wait.

While requesting that case "be dismissed with prejudice" one section of the state's brief today said:

Additional cities consider supermajority requirement to raise taxes

August 19, 2014 in Blog

The City of Spokane Valley is the latest local government to consider a supermajority requirement to raise taxes – a WPC recommendation.

The two-thirds requirement is not unfamiliar to voters in the area; they have overwhelmingly approved it five times at the state level and watched as neighbors in the City of Spokane adopted the requirement last year.

WEA to profit from passage of class-size initiative

August 15, 2014 in Blog

An informative Spokesman-Review editorial today, citing figures from the state Office of Financial Management, notes that I-1351, the upcoming class-size initiative, would cost $4.7 billion through 2019, plus another $1.9 billion required from local school budgets. I-1351 includes no funding mechanism, so all this money would be taken from existing education programs, at a time when lawmakers are trying to comply with the McCleary decision on funding public education.

State dodges new pension bullet

August 14, 2014 in Blog

A unanimous Supreme Court today gave budget writers much needed good news when Justices rejected two union initiated pension lawsuits that could have added an additional $1.3 billion in new costs for the 2015-17 budget (state and local).

Writing perhaps the sweetest words lawmakers have heard recently from the Court, Justices said:

Attorney General declines Senator’s request for Harris v. Quinn impact opinion

August 13, 2014 in Blog

Last week I highlighted a letter from Sen. Braun to the Attorney General requesting an informal opinion in response to the June 30 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Harris v. Quinn, which called into question the forced unionization of some Washington residents. The Senator asked these three questions:

Is Environmental Impact Analysis Useful? State Doesn't Know, but Wants to Make it More Complex.

August 12, 2014 in Blog

Let's say you used a tool every day to solve a problem. Don't you think you'd wonder if that tool actually did the job?

For more than three decades, the state has required environmental impact analysis for a range of projects as part of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). The purpose of the analysis is to understand potential environmental problems of projects and proposals.

Senator requests opinion from Attorney General on Harris v. Quinn impact in Washington

August 7, 2014 in Blog

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Harris v. Quinn calling into question the forced unionization of some Washington residents.

Next steps for Benton County public safety sales tax

August 6, 2014 in Blog

The third time was the charm for the Benton County public safety sales tax increase. After voters rejected a 0.2% increase in 2007 and 2008 they are giving approval to Proposition 14-5 (0.3% increase). Now that the voters have given their trust to elected officials it is time for these leaders to come through on their promise to enact performance audits to ensure the new resources are efficiently and effectively spent to deliver on the important public safety goals.