Washington Policy Blog

Under Senate Bill 5992, saving money on ferries would be difficult

February 19, 2015 in Blog

Senate Bill 5992 is one of eight transportation package reform bills introduced in the state Senate last week. The goal of the reform bill is to reduce the cost of ferries by introducing an open bidding procurement model similar to the proven method that has benefited British Columbian taxpayers.

Lawmakers consider bills on death penalty, ticket scalping, and school bonds this week

February 18, 2015 in Blog

This week is the deadline for the state House and Senate to pass bills in most policy committees. Any non-budget bill not passed in committee by the end of Friday will be considered dead for the year. Bills that affect the 2015-17 budget are exempt from the “cut-off” deadline. If there are enough votes, however, lawmakers can revive any measure later through special parliamentary procedures

B&O tax reform bill would exempt nearly 286,000 small businesses from tax

February 18, 2015 in Blog

A major B&O (Business & Occupation) tax reform proposal was introduced today by Rep. MacEwen. The proposal (HB 2150) is a variation of the Single Business Tax WPC first proposed in 2010.

Governor Inslee explains why he broke his promise not to raise taxes

February 17, 2015 in Blog

As most people know, Governor Inslee has broken his promise that, if elected, he would not raise taxes.  His latest budget proposal includes a number of tax increases, and would permanently add new ways to tax people under state law.  The new revenue would be in addition to the extra $3 billion the state is collecting under current tax rates.

100 Seattle jobs move to Nevada, $15 wage a reason

February 17, 2015 in Blog

A Seattle company has announced it is moving 100 jobs to Nevada.  Cascade Designs, which make outdoor equipment, says Seattle is simply “too expensive” to continue to grow the business in a cost efficient way.   Citing the city’s new $15 minimum wage as one of the cost drivers, the company says many of its competitors use overseas labor that is significantly cheaper.

Vanpools continue to be cost-efficient for commuters (and local transit agencies)

February 13, 2015 in Blog

King County Metro Transit’s vanpool program has finally become operationally self-sufficient. According to the National Transit Database, King County Metro’s vanpool program cost $10,658,554 to operate in 2013. Yet vanpool revenues more than made up for that – users paid about $11.5 million.

Lawmakers pass supplemental budget; Senate works to regain lost federal education funding

February 13, 2015 in Blog

On this 33rd day of this year’s 105-day legislative session, lawmakers have introduced more than 2,200 measures so far, as next week’s deadline for action on non-budget bills approaches. 

Last week, House and Senate lawmakers took time from a busy committee schedules to pass dozens of bills by large bi-partisan or unanimous votes.

Should state drivers have to fund Spokane's electric trolley?

February 13, 2015 in Blog

If transit executives and some legislators get their way, Washington drivers could be paying for an electric folly.

Spokane Transit officials want voters in April to approve a major sales tax hike to fund their electric trolley and other service additions. The tax hike would take the sales tax in Spokane Transit’s service areas (most of the populous portions of Spokane County) to 9.0% - one of the highest figures in the state.

Rep. Carlyle calls for rethinking state’s role in funding K-12 schools

February 13, 2015 in Blog

This week, always-thoughtful Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), Chairman of the House Finance Committee, released an interesting paper discussing state and local funding of the public schools. He notes that for 40 years, Washington has pursued a “state funded” education system, where most tax dollars are sent to Olympia to be distributed back to local schools, and small added local levies are intended to pay for modest enhancements.

State Senators release transportation tax proposal

February 12, 2015 in Blog

State Senators Curtis King (R-Yakima), Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), Joe Fain (R-Auburn) and Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) held a press conference today to unveil their plan to pay for more transportation projects.

The bills and balance sheet can be found, here:

http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2015/st1517p.asp

Title only bill would provide every Washingtonian one free drink a week (satire)

February 12, 2015 in Blog

While traveling to Olympia to testify on a bill on a holiday may not be a high priority for most Washingtonians, you may want to make an exception for next Monday. The title only bill, HB 2082 (Relating to commerce in liquor) is scheduled for a public hearing and executive action that day. Based on my best interpretation of that blank piece of legislation, it would provide every Washingtonian one free drink a week paid for by the per diem of lawmakers. Who could object to that?

SB 5744 would help every student have a great teacher

February 11, 2015 in Blog

On Monday the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee held a hearing on SB 5744, a school reform bill sponsored by Senator Litzow (R-Mercer Island). The bill would require administrators to consider teacher performance when layoffs are required.

Nuclear power and teen summer jobs bills on committee agendas this week

February 11, 2015 in Blog

With just over a week until the deadline for passing bills out of committee, lawmakers are busy with a full schedule of committee hearings, bills, and amendments under consideration.  Any non-budget bill that does not see action by the deadline will likely be dead for the year.

The myth of Cap-and-Trade "success" in the N.E. United States (RGGI)

February 11, 2015 in Blog

One of the most common arguments made by supporters of Governor Inslee's cap-and-trade legislation is that a similar system in the NE United States is working well and has not harmed the economy. Advocates claim Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiation, known as RGGI, has cut carbon emissions and the economy wasn't harmed.

House Bill 1939 would establish congestion relief as a goal of transportation policy

February 10, 2015 in Blog

Congestion relief is not a priority when state officials spend transportation dollars, but that may soon change. House Bill 1939 would re-establish congestion relief as a transportation policy goal, creating an official relationship between spending and relieving traffic congestion.

Prior to 2007, lawmakers had implemented very specific performance measures that tied spending to measurable benchmarks to provide congestion relief. They were: