Washington Policy Blog

2015-17 tax debate: From "buck up" for $1.4 billion to $180 million adopted net revenue increase

July 14, 2015 in Blog

Although Governor Inslee campaigned on the promise in 2012 to not propose new taxes, the 2015 session started and ended in perfect symmetry with him calling for tax increases. The size of those desired tax increases, however, changed significantly from December 2014 to when the 2015-17 budget was finally signed in July. Let's review how the tax debate unfolded.

Vance seeks $5 billion more for schools

July 13, 2015 in Blog

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.

Evolution of 2015-17 budget proposals

July 13, 2015 in Blog

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.

New report shows $100 buys more in right-to-work states

July 8, 2015 in Blog

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.

Parents say they like education choices offered by new charter schools

July 7, 2015 in Blog

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.

Starbucks prices increasing more in Seattle area…could the $15 minimum wage be a factor?

July 7, 2015 in Blog

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.

A Win For Association Health Plans in Washington State

July 6, 2015 in Blog

Several weeks ago we wrote that Association Health Plans (AHPs) were under attack in Washington state.

Could rule changes strengthen state's balance budget requirement?

July 6, 2015 in Blog

You wouldn't know it from the fact that the days old 2015-17 budget has never been balanced and was signed into law with a $2 billion hole but Washington has one of the strongest statutory balanced budget requirements in the country. Per RCW 43.88.055 "The legislature must adopt a four-year balanced budget . . ."

Vancouver, B.C. voters reject light rail and subway projects

July 2, 2015 in Blog

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.

Is reducing class sizes the best way to improve student learning?

July 2, 2015 in Blog

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. 

Is Obamacare Really Working?

July 1, 2015 in Blog

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.

$2 billion hole blown in brand new 2015-17 budget

July 1, 2015 in Blog

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.

Legislature approves budget/transportation package; averts government shutdown but work still to be done for budget to balance

July 1, 2015 in Blog

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.

New state budget to spend $2.9 billion more on public schools; 19% increase is one of largest in state history

June 30, 2015 in Blog

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.

Legislature unanimously passes long standing WPC recommendation to prioritize congestion relief

June 30, 2015 in Blog

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.