Washington's school children had little to celebrate as lawmakers added $1.5 billion in new spending to an inefficient, unreformed K-12 public education system. The new money will do little to bring about real change. Currently only 59 cents of every education dollar reaches the classroom and mandatory teacher assignment rules prevent principals from getting the best teachers into the classroom.
There are some promising signs that legislators are beginning to demand environmental effectiveness when funding projects designed to protect Washington's natural resources. In addition to the clause in the Governor's climate bill requiring projects to be prioritized based on carbon reductions per dollar spent, there is budget language requiring a similar approach in other environmental arenas.
This week Seattle City Council members voted 8 - 0 to send a measure to the November ballot that would funnel public money to their own re-election campaigns. It's easy for public officials to create new programs when someone else is paying, especially when they will be the beneficiaries.
By the time you read this the Legislature will have likely already approved the 482 page 2013-15 operating budget first publicly released around 12:56 a.m. this morning. Don't feel bad if you haven't had a chance to read it; you're in good company. It's doubtful many lawmakers have either.
As you can see from the below tweets of reporters, the just concluded press conference with Governor Inslee and budget writers announcing the details of the 2013-15 budget agreement leaves lots to the imagination of what exactly lawmakers are being asked to vote on and have on the Governor's desk by 5 p.m. tomorrow (of course they'll read it first):
Based on our study, "A Roadmap for Mobility," WPC has compiled five policy recommendations that lawmakers should include in any legislation that is funded by a tax increase, to ensure any new transportation bill improves mobility and serves the public interest.
Today, President Obama outlined his new strategy on climate change, calling for more support for a range of politically chosen strategies. Prior to the speech, Governor Inslee released a statement saying the approach is "a smart, practical and cost effective set of policies."
The approach proposed by the President, however, stands in contrast to Inslee's own climate legislation and model legislation passed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The bi-partisan education reform bill, SB 5946, sponsored by senators Dammeier (R-Puyallup) and Frockt (D-Seattle) would direct more funding to the classroom to educate children, with a specific focus on early reading, the Learning Assistance Program, training new teachers, online learning and keeping kids in school. Opponents of the bill, led by the powerful WEA union, do not like any limits on their control over where the money goes within the education bureaucracy.
Avik Roy, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, recently calculated the increase in health insurance costs in Washington state, with and without Obamacare. (Here) Even in over-regulated Washington, costs for health insurance purchased in the Obamacare state insurance exchange will be 34% to 80% higher than traditional insurance purchased in the individual market.