Washington Policy Blog

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

Governor Inslee might let electric vehicle owners use ferries and toll roads for free

December 16, 2014 in Blog

As I was reading through Governor Inslee’s $12 billion transportation spending proposal, one line caught my attention:

 “Toll and ferry fare credit for [Electric Vehicles] EVs"

Governor Inslee seeks new taxes, announces $12 billion transportation spending plan

December 16, 2014 in Blog

Today, Governor Inslee announced his new $12 billion transportation spending plan. Under his plan, the state would spend close to $6 billion on the SR-520 Bridge, 507/167 Gateway, the North Spokane freeway and other highway projects. The Governor also wants to spend over $2 billion on subsidized mass transit and multimodal infrastructure.

The latest on First Place Scholars Charter School

December 15, 2014 in Blog

This two-and-a-half minute report from KOMO News radio gives a good overview of what’s happening at First Place Scholars Charter School in Seattle.  It also includes my comments about the advantage charter schools have in turning things around quickly to improve learning from students, improvements that are difficult, or never attempted, at many failing traditional public schools.

Seattle Times story shows charter school law is working

December 10, 2014 in Blog

A front-page story in The Seattle Times by Leah Todd reports on troubles at First Place Scholars Charter School, the headline saying the school is in “disarray” over recent leadership changes.  Yet the details of the story show that Washington’s best-in-the-nation charter school law is working as intended.

U.S. Sen. Murray/Rep. Ryan want Congress to reform the way the federal budget and policy are adopted

December 10, 2014 in Blog

It's not often you see Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree on much let alone reforms to the way the federal budget and policy are adopted. This is what makes the bipartisan introduction of the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington (D) and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (R) so exciting. Sen.