Washington Policy Blog

Has the Nation's Highest Minimum Wage Reduced Poverty?

October 1, 2013 in Blog

The state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has announced the state’s minimum wage, already the highest in the nation, will increase in 2014 from the current $9.19 to $9.32 per hour. 

State's Obamacare Exchange is Down

October 1, 2013 in Blog

Three years ago Washington state's elected officials took the lead in implementing Obamacare, saying that if Washington did not set up a state health care exchange, as required by the 2010 Affordable Care Act the federal government would do it for us.  The Exchange will cost the state about $50 million a year to operate.

Under the law the online Exchange was to be up and running today.  Instead visitors find it is not working.  A notice at the site, WAHealthPlanFinder, tells those seeking health coverage:

Study Endorsing SeaTac’s Proposition 1 Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story

September 26, 2013 in Blog

Yesterday proponents of Proposition 1, the SeaTac ballot measure to implement a $15 per hour minimum wage, paid sick leave and other labor mandates on some SeaTac businesses, released a study declaring passage of the initiative would inject $54 million in increased household spending throughout the region and create 400 new jobs. 

The study also says employers will be able to easily absorb the increases in the cost of doing business by raising prices on consumers and local governments will benefit by receiving more revenue from the increase in earnings and spending.

Solar Panels Create Less Heat Than Solar Energy Activists

September 26, 2013 in Blog

This week, the Wall Street Journal is publishing four pieces I wrote addressing various aspects of energy and environment policy. You can read them all at the WSJ Experts page. There are some nice pieces by others as well, so it is worth a look at all of the articles.

Today is opening day for charter schools in Washington state

September 23, 2013 in Blog

Today the Washington State Charter School Commission launched its charter school application process.  The Commission invited communities and charter school pioneers to file their charter school applications. See the Commission's Request for Proposals, available here.  

Phillips and Desmond don’t like being reminded of Metro’s past promises

September 23, 2013 in Blog

King County Councilmember Larry Phillips and King County Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond claim that my independent analysis of Metro’s recent service cuts is “wrong,” and that I’m “rewriting history” and “playing loose with the facts,” but they fail to cite a single example of where I got the facts wrong.

The reason for their failure is simple. All Washington Policy Center (WPC) research is based on facts and documentation that comes from Metro itself.

Good news from today’s revenue forecast

September 19, 2013 in Blog

Jason Mercier, budget analyst for Washington Policy Center, just wrote an informative analysis of the good news from today’s revenue forecast. 

Revenue forecast helps grow budget reserves

September 19, 2013 in Blog

While those following the state's monthly revenue receipts expected state revenue collections to continue to grow, the amount of yesterday's increase was a bit of a surprise.

According to the state's economist, Dr. Steve Lerch, revenues are now projected to grow by another $345 million for the current budget and $342 million for the 2015-17 budget:

Governor Inslee says tunnel project will resume

September 17, 2013 in Blog

On July 30th, the largest tunnel boring machine in the world began digging the tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct underneath Seattle. Three weeks later the machine stopped. It wasn’t malfunctioning parts or bad planning that held up the project, it was unions fighting over four dirt-hauling jobs.

Estimated to progress at six feet per day, the machine has only traveled 24 feet, four days worth. It is expected to progress at about 35 feet per day once in good soil underneath downtown.

Coalition requests performance audit of I-937

September 17, 2013 in Blog

A coalition of lawmakers and business groups sent State Auditor Troy Kelley a letter yesterday requesting a performance audit of I-937 (Energy Independence Act).

From the letter:

Dear State Auditor Troy Kelley,

Rainier Beach school officials allowed to reject bad teachers

September 16, 2013 in Blog

On Saturday, Lynne Varner of The Seattle Times wrote an informative editorial about Rainier Beach High, a Seattle school that serves mostly poor and minority students.  Varner notes something remarkable: 

“Rainier Beach successfully persuaded the Seattle School District to exempt it from forced teacher placements.”

Questions on I-517

September 16, 2013 in Blog

On Thursday we published our analysis of Initiative 517. Our study concluded (in-part):

Dick’s Drive-In: The Best Argument Against A Government Mandated High Minimum Wage

September 16, 2013 in Blog

There is a great editorial in today’s Seattle Times on increasing the minimum wage.   Iconic Seattle-based business Dick’s Drive-In is featured as the best argument against a government mandated increase of our state’s already-high minimum wage.

Higher Minimum Wage Would Mean Fewer Teens with a Job

September 13, 2013 in Blog

Raising the minimum wage is a hot topic in the news right now.   Voters in the City of SeaTac will decide in November whether to increase wages for workers in that city’s hospitality and transportation industries to a minimum of $15 per hour, fast food workers are striking for higher pay, and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is

JLARC holds work session on the Columbia River Crossing forensic audit

September 12, 2013 in Blog

On September 18, 2013, Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee (JLARC) is holding a hearing regarding a forensic accounting audit on the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project. Washington Policy Center has been among the first of those calling for a fraud audit. A timeline of events leading up to the JLARC hearing follows: