Washington Policy Blog

Lawmakers forced into special session as budget talks stall; state Treasurer proposes state income tax

April 22, 2015 in Blog

This year’s regular legislative session ends Sunday, and while lawmakers will send several dozen more bills to the governor for his signature, they have not reached an agreement on a budget to keep the government operating over the next two years.  Remaining issues include transportation spending and basic education funding.

Legislative leaders now say they must go to a special session. Governor Inslee may call lawmakers back immediately, or wait for leader to complete behind-the-scenes negotiations first. 

Is a capital gains tax an excise or income tax?

April 22, 2015 in Blog

With discussions continuing of imposing the first in the nation capital gains tax for a state without an income tax, questions have been raised about whether this would be an excise tax or an income tax. This distinction is very important since an income tax exceeding 1% would be unconstitutional in Washington.

Earth Day highlights dreadful record of environmental predictions and policies

April 21, 2015 in Blog

Tomorrow is Earth Day, and activists, politicians and the media will push for policies they say will reduce our environmental impact. Often, it is simply assumed these policies will work and the only question is whether we have the "will" to adopt them.

Actually, the environmental left has a terrible record when it comes to environmental predictions and effectiveness. Repeatedly, their policies fail or even increase environmental damage to our planet.  Their policy announcements are applauded, but their policy failures are rarely highlighted.

Statement from Brian Sonntag on importance of public trust in State Auditor

April 21, 2015 in Blog

Brian Sonntag, former 20 year State Auditor and current Washington Policy Center Board member, issued this statement today on the importance of public trust in State Auditor:

Union strikes seek to close schools to 40,000 students in eight districts

April 21, 2015 in Blog

Union executives in eight Washington public school districts have called for strikes starting this week in an effort to pressure lawmakers in Olympia to direct more money to increases in teacher pay and benefits. The call was affirmed by votes of union membership.

Building light rail is not an effective way to reduce traffic congestion

April 17, 2015 in Blog

Three elected officials serving on Sound Transit’s Board recently penned an editorial in The Seattle Times calling for a $15 billion increase in regressive taxes to build more light rail. Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Everett City Councilmember Paul Roberts and Redmond Mayor John Marchione argue that building light rail is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions and improve mobility.

State lawmakers introduce new education funding bills as budget talks stall

April 17, 2015 in Blog

House and Senate budget writers met this week to work on a compromise spending plan for 2015-17. The Senate passed a no-new-taxes proposal that would spend about $37.8 billion, while the House-passed plan calls for $38.8 billion that would require nearly $1.5 billion in additional taxes, including a tax on capital gains and a tax increase on service businesses.

"Doc Fix" - Done Deal

April 17, 2015 in Blog

The U.S. Senate returned from its spring recess, passed the House "doc fix" right at the deadline and the president signed it into law yesterday. We outlined the details of the legislation last month:


Is it ironic that union members say they need a $15 minimum wage?

April 16, 2015 in Blog

Activists across the state marched, rallied and protested yesterday in demand of a $15 minimum wage for all workers.  The demonstrations were part of an effort coordinated by Working Washington in the “Fight for $15” campaign.

Shawn Vestal: There he goes again

April 16, 2015 in Blog

Liberal columnist Shawn Vestal of the Spokesman-Review doesn’t like Washington Policy Center providing the public with information about the Spokane trolley proposal, which is being presented to voters as part of Proposition 1 on the April 28th ballot. Spokane Transit Authority (STA) officials call the trolley the “centerpiece” of their plan.

As session end nears, lawmakers pass hundreds of bills, schools chief proposes last-minute $2.2 billion education funding plan and House unveils transportation tax proposal

April 15, 2015 in Blog

Lawmakers rushed to pass hundreds of pieces of legislation ahead of today’s deadline for advancing most bills passed by the opposite chamber. Some 300 bills have passed both houses to date, and 60 measures have been sent to the governor for his signature.

The Folly of Connecting Air Quality to Climate Policy

April 15, 2015 in Blog

Today's guest blog is from Dr. Kay Jones. Dr. Jones is a retired U.S. Public Health Service officer.  He served as the senior advisor for air quality at the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) under the Ford and Carter administrations. He was responsible for initiating the national program to investigate the effects of acid rain.

New charter school in New Orleans will add learning choices for students

April 14, 2015 in Blog

Last week National Public Radio interviewed Jonathan Johnson, the founder of the Rooted School, a new charter school opening in New Orleans. Mr. Johnson’s high school program will prepare students for the 7,000 tech-sector jobs predicted to arrive in Louisiana. Mr. Johnson believes students need more options than college. The Rooted School will offer a small-school environment to prepare students for a technical career, in addition to getting ready for college.

Insider Project Labor Agreements likely to inflate construction costs on Seattle public projects

April 10, 2015 in Blog

Earlier this year the Seattle City Council passed Ordinance 124690, forcing the use of costly Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and “Priority Hire” on public projects of $5 million or more. The new rule hurts the public interest because it inflates project costs; studies show PLAs artificially boost project costs by 12% to 18%. PLAs eliminate competitive bidding, pushing labor costs higher than normal market wages.

House passes transportation budget and turns to possible tax increases; anti-ticket scalping bill goes to the Governor

April 10, 2015 in Blog

With just over two weeks to go in the scheduled legislative session, state lawmakers spent long hours this week voting on dozens of bills. Measures not related to the state budget must pass both chambers by next Wednesday to remain viable.

On Thursday, House members passed a proposed transportation budget for 2015-17 by a 78-19 vote. The measure, House Bill 1299, would spend $7.7 billion in existing revenues. It includes provisions to repave nearly 2,100 miles of state highways and repair up to 50 structurally deficient bridges.