Chris Vance, who works for Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, has a commentary today at Crosscut on the legislature’s alleged shortcomings in funding public education. The commentary has bi-partisan roots – Dorn is a Democrat, and Vance is a former Republican state party chairman.
After a record 176 days the Legislature was finally able to adopt all the pieces necessary to put in place a balanced 2015-17 operating budget. The focus of this post is not to review the process used to enact the budget or policies funded in it but instead to provide a timeline of where the tax and spending debate began last December with Governor Inslee’s budget proposal to where it ended with adoption of the final 2015-17 budget.
The Tax Foundation released a report today showing how much $100 buys in each state. The same $100 can buy you comparatively more in a low-price state than a high-price state, which shows the true cost of living.
Reporter Gwen Davis at the Madison Park Times has been talking to parents about the new charter schools opening this fall. She provides this informative report, “Charter schools about choice in education, parents say,” on what she found out.
Yesterday Starbucks announced an increase in drink prices that will go into effect in its stores around the country. Most notable though, was the company’s decision to increase prices even higher in the Puget Sound region. Customers in the greater Seattle area (which includes King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties) will pay an average of about 3.5% more, while customers in other areas will pay just 1% more.
While Sound Transit officials prepare to ask people living in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties to pay billions in new taxes for more costly light rail projects, they may be experiencing nervous shock at what just happened in a neighboring city to the north. Voters in Metro Vancouver, B.C. just handed a resounding “No” to local transit officials, coming in 62% against a proposed subway and light rail expansion project.
Completion of this year’s legislative session is on hold for the moment, and the just-completed 2015-17 state budget faces a $2 billion hole, because of a late-breaking dispute over funding for Initiative 1351, the class-size reduction initiative.
After the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision on King versus Burwell, proponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, have not only claimed victory, but are telling the rest of the country to get over it and just accept the ACA as the law of the land. They claim that millions of people have health insurance through the ACA, that the uninsured rate is dropping and that premium price increases, at least in the individual market, are slowing.
Around 11:30 p.m. last night (30 minutes before a government shutdown) Governor Inslee signed the state's 2015-17 budget. Though the new budget is only a few hours old, there is already a $2 billion cloud hanging over it.
With just hours to spare before a partial state government shutdown, the legislature overwhelmingly adopted the state’s 2015-17 budget. By a vote of 38-10 in the Senate and 90-8 in the House, lawmakers approved a $38.2 billion biennial budget ($79 billion all funds). This represents a 13% increase in spending from the 2013-15 budget.
Yesterday, after 165 days of discussion and negotiation, lawmakers in Olympia reached agreement on a state budget for 2015-17. The new budget will increase spending on K-12 public schools from the current $15.26 billion to $18.15 billion, an increase of 19%. Lawmakers achieved this large rise in spending with the natural increase in current revenues, without imposing new taxes on Washington families and business owners.
Lawmakers have again made reducing traffic congestion a top priority for state officials. Prior to 2007, the state used performance-based benchmarks to make sure that transportation tax dollars were being used effectively to reduce traffic congestion. In 2007, lawmakers repealed that language and replaced it five goals of transportation policy. State lawmakers added a sixth policy goal in 2010. Congestion relief is not among them.