Washington Policy Blog

“I will stay away from the math.” Why Washington’s environmental policy has failed.

May 27, 2015 in Blog

One sentence sums up the last ten years of Washington's environmental policy.

"I will stay away from the math and instead tell you all a short story about my son."

Notable budget dates

May 26, 2015 in Blog

With the first special session winding down here are a few dates to pay attention to as lawmakers work to adopt the state's 2015-17 budget:

State Senator says Seattle’s $15 minimum wage and paid sick leave is to credit for state’s rosy revenue forecast

May 22, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday Senator Andy Billig attributed some of the modest increase in the state’s revenue forecast to the city of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage and paid sick leave mandates.

In a Democratic Leadership press conference Senator Billig said:

Rideshares now under statewide framework – Senate Bill 5550 signed by Governor Inslee

May 22, 2015 in Blog

Things will get a bit easier for rideshare drivers and their customers under a bill Governor Inslee signed into law last week. Senate Bill 5550, originally sponsored by Senators Cyrus Habib and Joe Fain, provides a statewide structure of insurance requirements for rideshare companies to allow rideshare expansion across the state. WPC provided analysis on the bill back in February.

On average, teachers make more than the families who pay their salaries

May 22, 2015 in Blog

Education leader Rep. Chad Magendanz has released an informative chart (below), based on OSPI data, showing that teachers on average are not underpaid, but make well above the median household income in our state. 

The numbers show that on average teachers make more than the taxpaying working families who pay their salaries. The teacher salary figures are for a ten-month work year, while most people earn their income over twelve months. 

Tough $15 wage law hits San Francisco comic book store

May 21, 2015 in Blog

San Francisco’s harsh $15 minimum wage law is hurting a well-know comic book store in the city.  The owner of Comix Experience, Brian Hibbs, says he supports a living wage in concept, but the tough new law will require $80,000 in extra revenue each year.  “My jaw dropped.  Eighty-thousand a year! I didn’t know that.  I thought we were talking a small amount of money, something I could absorb,” he says.

When it comes to the impacts of a high minimum wage, a picture is worth a thousand words

May 21, 2015 in Blog

This sign in a Seattle nail salon is a perfect illustration of the unintended consequences of forcing employers to pay an artificially high minimum wage.

New collective bargaining reform bill introduced

May 21, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday state employees held a coordinated lunch time "unity break" to encourage lawmakers to ratify the contracts that were secretly negotiated behind closed doors last summer with Governor Inslee. As a side note, there was a striking (no pun intended) contrast between the ongoing illegal teacher strikes and yesterday's “unity break” by state workers. State workers showed there is a way to protest while showing up for work and not disrupting public services - something other public servants should take note of.

WPC comments on SB 6116, on strikes in public schools

May 19, 2015 in Blog

This afternoon I was invited to speak before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee about SB 6116, on strikes in the public schools. 

Below is an outline of my remarks.

1. Teacher union strikes against the legislature are not possible

a) Union executives say they are calling strikes against the legislature.  This is not possible.

b) Union executives have signed labor contracts with school districts, not the state legislature.  These strikes are by unions against their local community schools.

Are Democrats laying a “tax trap” for Republicans?

May 19, 2015 in Blog

When it comes to popular branding of our two major political parties, one message has been consistent for years: Republicans generally oppose tax increases.

Voters concerned about the rising financial burden that elected officials place on families in our state would usually look to Republicans for tax relief.  Now Tim Eyman is chiding Republican lawmakers for risking loss of their no-more-taxes reputation, fearing they are being set up for a “tax trap” in the current special session.  In his latest mass e-mail Eyman argues:

Will $415 million increase in forecasted revenue break budget logjam?

May 19, 2015 in Blog

With not much progress to date on budget negotiations during the special session, yesterday's $415 million increase in forecasted revenue may just be what lawmakers need to wrap up their work. According to the state's Economic Revenue Forecast Council:

Cap-and-Trade in Washington state. Phase 2: the big buyoff

May 13, 2015 in Blog

Having failed to garner enough support from House Democrats, the Governor’s cap-and-trade bill now enters what has become a traditional phase for cap-and-trade legislation: the Big Buyoff. A new version of the cap-and-trade proposal was released this week, this time with hundreds of millions of dollars intended for selected industries to earn the votes of particular representatives.

This is a familiar pattern for cap-and-trade. The examples are plentiful.

Special session at halfway mark as budget talks continue; Governor's cap and trade tax considered; and two lawmakers move to impeach the State Auditor

May 13, 2015 in Blog

Today is the 15th day of the 30-day special session that started on April 29th in Olympia, State lawmakers are continuing work on forging a 2015-17 spending plan, a transportation budget and education funding reforms.

The low-skill, minimum wage jobs praised by celebrity James Franco probably won't exist in the future

May 13, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday I blogged how actor James Franco is praising McDonalds for its readily-available and low-skill jobs.  Franco recounts how, as a struggling actor, he was desperate to earn money.  He had few skills (he had been fired from his previous jobs) and just needed a way to make some cash: “…just like their [McDonalds] food, the job was more available there than anywhere else. When I was hungry for work, they fed the need."