Sound Transit’s demands for new taxing authority have become a sticking point in the debate in the legislature over a new transportation package. Sound Transit officials want an estimated $15 billion in new taxing authority. They want a 0.5% increase in Sound Transit’s sales tax authority, to a total of 1.4% (which would bring the total sales tax rate in Seattle to 10.1%), a 0.8% increase in the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax authority to a total of 1.1%, and a property tax increase of .25 per $1,000 of assessed value ($100/year on a $400,000 house).
Last night, teacher union executives called for extending their ongoing one-day strike actions to close more schools, expanding to the districts of Seattle, Snohomish, Lake Stevens and Franklin Pierce. Currently union executives are using strikes to close schools to 257,000 children, for the time being denying access to public education to one in four Washington students. Teachers union executives say they are using school closures as part of their effort to lobby state lawmakers for more in pay and benefits and for other spending increases.
Activists and elected officials in Seattle are pushing to get the city in the Internet provider business with municipal broadband. Mayor Ed Murray supports the idea of government-owned and operated broadband networks and has commissioned a study to determine the costs and feasibility of making Seattle the first big city in the nation to treat broadband Internet access as a public ut
As Sound Transit officials prepare to take over the center lanes of I-90, their newest online advertisement asks the question, “What’s to do when we’re running out of roads?”(Their edited clip was originally from a video promoting highway building.) Unsurprisingly, their answer is to build light rail.
Math errors. Exaggerations. Phony metrics. Trickle-down economics. The recent e-mail from JJ McCoy of the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association to the legislature has it all.
Electric car advocates in Washington state are again asking for a sales tax break on top of the existing federal tax credit they receive of $7,500. Their sales tax break costs the state about $10 million a year. To put that in context, that is about one-quarter of the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board’s annual funding.
After months of public debate and extensive research, voters on Tuesday rejected a nearly $300 million plan to preserve and expand public transit in the Spokane area and build an electric trolley system in downtown Spokane. But that does not mean public transit can’t be improved and made more efficient.
Over the past three years, state lawmakers have sparred over a transportation package that would raise the gas tax and other driver-related fees to build and maintain roads and highways, spend more on transit and fund the Washington State Patrol. In 2013, the state House passed a transportation package that included the controversial Columbia River Crossing project and would have directed state money to local transit operations. The Senate decided against voting on the proposal.
This morning Carleen Johnson of KOMO News Radio interviewed me because of the spreading teachers strikes in Washington, now affecting 80,000 students in 14 school districts. Teachers union executives are calling on the legislature for pay raises, so knowing what teachers are paid now is basic to covering these strikes.
Last month Senator Sharon Nelson lambasted the chair of the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee for failing to hold “fair and balanced” hearings and proposed a Senate rule that would compel committees to run public hearings in a such a manner.
Executives with the state’s powerful Washington Education Association (WEA) union announced last week they plan to expand school closings by calling a strike for May 6th in the Lake Washington district, bringing to eleven the number of school districts subject to union action. The latest announcement will empty classrooms for the day of about 25,760 students, increasing to 70,000 the number of students affected by shuttered public schools.
Legislative leaders announced they will wrap up this year’s regular 105-day session two days early, on Friday, April 24th. Lawmakers will be back in Olympia on Wednesday, April 29th, however, to begin a 30-day special session called by the governor.