Washington Policy Blog

Senate bill would borrow, use gas taxes, and spend federal funds to pay for 520 cost overruns

February 27, 2014 in Blog

The Senate Transportation Committee passed SB 6001, making supplemental appropriations to the transportation budget, and moved the bill to the Rules Committee for full Senate consideration. Lawmakers provided a plan to pay for the $170 million in cost overruns on the 520 Bridge Project.

Celebrating Five Years in Eastern Washington, WPC Expands Northwest's Largest Gala Event

February 27, 2014 in Blog

More than 2,000 people attend Washington Policy Center’s Annual Dinner each year and those attending east of the Cascades will now enjoy an even more spectacular evening.

WPC, the state’s leading independent research organization, announced plans today to hold two separate Annual Dinner events beginning this year – one in Eastern Washington and one in Western Washington. Both dinners will feature live, prominent national speakers.

Even Liberal Activists Think a $15 Minimum Wage Goes Too Far

February 26, 2014 in Blog

As the City of Seattle continues pressing forward with plans to impose a $15 minimum wage, some of the city’s most liberal business owners and nonprofit organizations are sounding the alarm.

In the past week, The Seattle Times has featured three prominently left-leaning business owners who say a $15 minimum wage will hurt their business.

Average teacher pay increases every year

February 25, 2014 in Blog

Over at Cross Cut yesterday, John Stang provides a description of the Senate’s proposed supplemental budget.  His reporting suggests teachers will not be receiving pay increases, noting “Sorry,Teachers,” and “no cost-of-living raise for teachers.”

By describing just one type of teacher pay increase, the Cost of Living Adjustment, the article gives the impression that teachers haven’t received any pay increases. 

Senate unveils bi-partisan 2014 supplemental budget proposal. Passage expected later this week.

February 25, 2014 in Blog

In a press conference Monday afternoon, state Senate leaders from both parties released the Senate’s proposed 2014 supplemental to the 2013-15 budget. The legislature generally writes a supplemental budget in the second year of a budget cycle to make adjustments for changing conditions, such as fluctuations in state services and revenue projections.

New car tab fee and higher sales tax likely on special April ballot

February 24, 2014 in Blog

Today, the King County Council moved towards putting new taxes on the ballot. On April 22, 2014, King County voters may vote on a costly plan to impose a $60 annual car tab fee and a .1% sales tax increase on drivers and consumers. Both of the new taxes would sunset after 10 years.  According to Crosscut, King County has nearly 2 weeks to get the measure on the ballot. However, if state lawmakers approve of new local taxes for transit, the King County Council would meet to discuss eliminating both taxes.

How High School Students Proved A Nobel Prize Economist Right on the Environment

February 23, 2014 in Blog

What happens when you give high school students goldfish crackers and tell them to act like commercial fishermen? Interestingly, they prove the validity of a couple tenets of environmental economics.

A comparison of House and Senate transportation tax proposals

February 21, 2014 in Blog

The Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) in the Senate recently unveiled a new transportation proposal that would spend $12.4 billion on roads, ferries, and other modes of transportation over the next 12 years.  This is in addition to the $8.7 billion per biennium the state currently spends on these public services.

The proposal would impose an 11.5-cents per gallon gas tax hike (a 30% increase in the current state tax), higher yearly car tab fees, new taxes on trucks, higher car registration fees, and other new fees on drivers.

State lawmakers work into the night to pass more than 200 bills before first major deadline

February 19, 2014 in Blog

When the state House of Representatives adjourned Monday night—actually at 12:32 a.m. Tuesday, February 18th, lawmakers had passed over a hundred bills that day. The Senate, which adjourned at 11:38 p.m. Monday evening, passed thirty-nine measures. The fast pace continued until Tuesday’s 5:00 p.m. deadline for acting on non-budget related bills in the house of origin.

The Trade-Off for a Higher Minimum Wage

February 19, 2014 in Blog

Advocates of increasing the minimum wage routinely claim that doing so will stimulate the economy, encourage growth and create jobs.   Ignoring the basic economic law of demand, which dictates that when the cost of something goes up, demand correspondingly goes down, these supporters instead argue that when workers earn more money they spend more money, which in turn benefits employers.  Everyone wins.

Of course, the only ones who really win are the workers who have a job; those who don’t will have a harder time finding one.

Predicting Environmental Catastrophe Embiggens the Smallest Activist

February 16, 2014 in Blog

Imagine a friend telling you his goal in life was to end all jaywalking. You might wonder if there wasn’t something more important he could do with his life.

Now imagine someone telling you he is working to save the planet from imminent destruction – for people, for wildlife, for future generations. Suddenly, they seem more righteous, more important. Environmentalists seem to believe, like Jebediah Springfield, that tackling a potential catastrophe "embiggens the smallest man."

Death penalty moratorium, Senate Majority Caucus, Columbia River Crossing in the news while lawmakers are busy passing bills.

February 14, 2014 in Blog

State lawmakers are passing dozens of bills in their respective chambers before the deadline for acting on policy bills in the house of origin arrives on Tuesday,  February 18h.  Most of these are non-contentious issues and are passing by large majorities. 

10:45 p.m. "public" hearing with no public testimony, surprised?

February 14, 2014 in Blog

Lawmakers work long hours on your behalf, sometimes late into the night. One of these instances occurred on Monday when lawmakers held a public hearing at 10:45 p.m. on HB 2244.

Pension reforms on Senate floor

February 13, 2014 in Blog

As we approach the February 18 House of Origin cutoff, bills are starting to fly off the floor of the House and the Senate. Two pension reform bills in the Senate could soon be among those moving. SB 5851 and SB 6305 are both currently on the floor.

Bill Would Require Health Coverage for Virtually All Part-Time Workers at Large Companies

February 13, 2014 in Blog

During this Legislative Session there has been no shortage of bills that would increase the cost of doing business in Washington and stymie job creation.