The budget cards are now on the table. Now we'll see if House and Senate budget negotiators can find a winning hand to get out of Olympia with a budget agreement by April 26. We're still reviewing the details of the proposals but here are a couple of first impressions.
The House Appropriations Committee had scheduled a public hearing on the House version of the 2015-17 state operating budget for 1:30 p.m. today—just two hours after presenting it for the first time at a press conference in Olympia. Another meeting was scheduled for Saturday, possibly to pass the proposal out of committee.
In a letter on Wednesday, House Republican leaders urged House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) to allow more time for the public to review the hundreds of pages of the budget proposal before a public hearing.
House Democrats released their budget today and the revenue from the Governor's proposed cap-and-trade carbon policy is not included. Bills necessary to implement the budget are never truly dead, but the exclusion of cap-and-trade from the House budget means the Governor's carbon policy is fundamentally dead.
Senator Michael Baumgartner (R- Spokane) has introduced SB 6079, to allow families that choose to receive up to $5,000 of the average $7,400 in public money the state spends per child. Parents can use the money to access educational services for children at public or private schools. SB 6079 would help lawmakers fulfill the key purpose of education funding, to meet the paramount duty of providing for the education of every child residing in the state.
Today was going to be like just any other budget rollout day in Olympia. A short press conference highlighting a summary of a budget proposal running hundreds of pages long and spending billions of dollars (not to mention potential new tax increases being proposed). Then just a few hours later Washingtonians were to be expected to have read, digested, and traveled to Olympia to offer public testimony on the proposed spending plan for their tax dollars.
In the midst of last year’s raging debate over whether Seattle should increase the minimum wage to $15, a study by the University of Washington (UW) weighed in, finding 24% of Seattle workers would benefit from the wage hike. Add in predictions of wage compression, whereby employers increase the wages of workers already making more than $15 in order to maintain the pay-scale hierarchy, and the UW study said one third of the city’s workers would benefit.
Monday marked the fifth anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) into law. The Administration is touting the "success" of the legislation. What is the reality?
Americans continue to oppose the law. Real Clear Politics averaged six recent polls and found that 52.5 percent opposed the ACA and 42.5 percent approved of the law. This ten percent difference remains constant since the bill was signed into law.
Hundreds of excited parents and students gathered early Saturday for a lottery to select students to attend a new charter public school to open in Tacoma this fall. SOAR Academy, the first elementary public charter school in Pierce County, will provide kindergarten through 8th grade for schoolchildren. The school received 234 applications for 124 available slots in kindergarten and first grade. Principal Kristina Bellamy-McClain drew at random from a drum to select student names.
Now that Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and unincorporated areas of Thurston County have implemented a ban on plastic grocery bags, Thurston County Solid Waste completed a study of what kind of grocery bag residents now use. The results show the ban has likely increased emissions of greenhouse gases and increased water pollution that contributes to "dead zones" in the ocean.
Envision Spokane, a labor and enviro backed group, has filed an initiative to amend the City of Spokane’s charter to include a “Worker Bill of Rights.” If approved by voters in November, the measure would impose a sweeping set of new labor mandates on Spokane employers.
Earlier this week, the State Transportation Commission approved a plan to toll Interstate 405 from Bellevue to Lynnwood. They plan to repurpose both an existing auxiliary lane, currently in operation as a general purpose lane between Bellevue and 124th Street but being extended to SR522, and the HOV lane from Bellevue to Lynnwood and designating both as High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. The HOT lanes would allow free access to carpools with at least three people in the peak periods and will be tolled based on congestion in the adjacent general purpose lanes.