Washington Policy Blog

Respected former Democratic senator recommends review of “basic education” definition

January 5, 2015 in Blog

Over the holidays, respected former state senator Jim Kastama (D-Puyallup), who served from 1996 to 2012, wrote in The Seattle Times about being misled when he voted for ESHB 2261, the hugely complex bill that redefined “basic education” and called for massive increases in funding, but included no significant reforms in the way education services are delivered.

Sound Transit receives negative financial outlook from S&P

January 3, 2015 in Blog

According to new information released by The Bond Buyer, Standard and Poors has revised Sound Transit’s outlook from stable to negative.

Governor Inslee wants to raise taxes by $560 per household in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, then give some families a $223 “tax rebate”

January 2, 2015 in Blog

The Seattle Times reports today that Governor Inslee has proposed giving $223, or 61 cents a day, in tax rebates to low-income families in recognition of the higher tax burden his administration plans to impose on the people of Washington.  The news comes after Governor Inslee said he wants to raise taxes by $1.4 billion in 2015-17, after making the decision to break his promise not to raise taxes.  Lawmakers will consider the governor’s tax increase proposal starting January 12th.

National Union Boss Says Right-to-Work Helps Unions

December 19, 2014 in Blog

Bucking the conventional union argument that right-to-work laws are union-busting, the Secretary-Treasurer of the United Auto Workers says right-to-work laws are good.  In fact, the national labor boss says he actually prefers to organize in a right-to-work state because it helps unions:

“This is something I’ve never understood, that people think right-to-work hurts unions…to me, it helps them.”

State Treasurer’s Office has concerns over Governor’s transportation proposal

December 19, 2014 in Blog

This week, Governor Inslee announced he wants to raise taxes to spend more on education and transportation, and to give pay raises to state employees. On Tuesday, the Governor announced his $12 billion transportation spending plan, saying he wants to impose a $4.8 billion cap and trade scheme, take on $3.1 billion in new debt, and impose $2.9 billion in “other fees” on people.

Earlier this week we learned that Governor Inslee proposed his new tax plan without consulting the State Treasurer first.

Spokane Transit to ask voters to increase sales tax to 9.0% for electric trolley

December 18, 2014 in Blog

The Spokane Transit Authority board today decided to ask voters to approve a 0.3% increase in the local sales tax to fund an electric trolley line and other service additions. Such an increase would take the sales tax rate in most of the Spokane area to 9.0% -  one of the highest figures in the state.

Vermont Governor Gives Up On Single-Payer Health Care System

December 18, 2014 in Blog

Yesterday, Governor Peter Shumlin announced he would not seak a single-payer health care system for Vermont. This is a huge shift in policy for the governor who has campaigned for a single-payer system for years. He barely won re-election last month, defeating a relatively unknown Republican candidate.

New Study Shows Minimum Wage Hike Killed 1.4 Million Jobs for Low-Skilled Workers

December 18, 2014 in Blog

A National Bureau of Economic Research study released late last month by economists with the University of California at San Diego found that mandatory increases in the federal minimum wage between 2007 and 2009 had “significant, negative effects on the employment and income growth of targeted workers.”  The study shows hikes in the federal minimum wage during the Great Recession led to the loss of approximately 1.4 million jobs held

Gov. Inslee's 2015-17 budget: Where "extremely volatile" and "unpredictable" become "secure" and "stable"

December 18, 2014 in Blog

Today Gov. Inslee released his 2015-17 budget and tax plan. After reviewing his balance sheet it has become clear that I need to update the dictionary I have been using to decipher budget terms. Earlier this week the Governor said:

The Governor's Many (Frustrating) Climate Contradictions

December 17, 2014 in Blog

The Governor announced the rest of his climate strategy today, calling for a $1 billion a year cap-and-trade, a low-carbon fuel standard that would add additional cost to gasoline and subsidies for a wide range of politically favored industries.

The details of the plan are not available, so we will address them as they emerge.

But what struck me most were the many contradictions in the Governor's announcement. Such contradictions are indicators that politics, not sound science and economics, are driving the policy.

There were many examples:

Will Tacoma follow in the footsteps of SeaTac and Seattle?

December 17, 2014 in Blog

Yesterday the Tacoma City Council took the first step toward approving an ordinance that would require all employers to provide paid sick and safety leave to all workers.   The mandatory paid leave proposal passed the first hurdle, a “first reading” of the ordinance, with unanimous support from the Council.  The proposal will next face a final vote of the Council, likely sometime in January. 

More Federal Taxpayer Money to Force State Control of Our Health Care System

December 17, 2014 in Blog

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, provides $2.8 billion for states to develop "innovative" healthcare delivery plans (here). Washington state officials spent most of 2013 designing a very comprehensive plan called the Washington State Health Care Innovation Plan (SHCIP). The work was supported by a $1 million grant from the federal government.

More Ideas for Healthcare Reform

December 17, 2014 in Blog

Obamacare remains unpopular with the American public. The Gallup Poll from last month found that only 37 % of Americans approved of Obamacare and a startling 56% disapprove of the law. Many ideas are now circulating for meaningful health care reform.

Five Key Facts About the Governor's Cap-and-Trade Announcement Today

December 16, 2014 in Blog

Governor Inslee announced part of his climate policy today - a cap-and-trade system that would tax gasoline and other fuels. Here are five key facts about the announcement today.

It is Cap-and-Trade