Washington Policy Blog

State Supreme Court issues landmark public records ruling on text messages

August 27, 2015 in Blog

In a 9-0 decision this morning the state Supreme Court ruled that the text messages of government employees that relate to official business, even on their private phone, are public records. From the ruling

Popular charter public schools to open in Seattle, Tacoma and other communities

August 26, 2015 in Blog

Eight new charter public schools are opening this fall in Seattle, Tacoma, Kent, Highline and Spokane.  Together the schools will serve more than 1,300 students.  The schools are authorized under a state law approved by voters in 2012 to provide expanded educational opportunities for children, especially those from low-income families and underserved communities.

Parents like Tam Nguyen, mother of a 5th grade boy, and Natalie Hester Johnson, whose daughter is entering high school, say they asked “tons of questions” before enrolling their children in a charter school.

State rejected WFSE request to pay employees for not crossing strike picket lines

August 26, 2015 in Blog

Now that the 2015-17 state budget has been signed into law the public is able to request details from last summer's secret contract negotiations between state employee unions and Governor Inslee's office. I just received the first batch of public records (more to come in October) with some of these details.

Gas tax increase means bigger public payouts to for-profit tribal businesses

August 25, 2015 in Blog

In Washington state, for-profit businesses owned by 24 Indian tribes have special agreements to receive payments out of the public treasury. Under an arrangement made by Governor Gregoire in 2007, 19 of these tribes receive “refund” payments equal to 75% of the state gas tax on all motor vehicle fuel sold on tribal lands.

Take 2: Is Initiative 1366 a constitutional amendment?

August 21, 2015 in Blog

Last month we posed this question: Is Initiative 1366 a constitutional amendment? The answer to this question will determine whether voters will have the opportunity to pass their own judgement on the policies proposed by the ballot measure. 

Another project in Seattle goes overbudget

August 21, 2015 in Blog

KING 5 News reported today that the Seattle Seawall Project will take a year longer to build than officials promised. In addition, Seattle officials have increased the project budget from the original $290 million price tag to $409 million, a 33% increase.

Union executives want strike to close Pasco schools, even though teacher compensation is twice average wage of area families

August 18, 2015 in Blog

Pasco union executives say they will call teachers out on strike if their demands for higher pay are not met by August 30th. Their strike action would close classrooms to students across the area, just as families are preparing to send children back to school.

The union wants an 11% pay increase, on top of the 3% pay raise the state legislature already approved for teachers, funded in the latest budget.

CO-OPs Remain at Risk

August 17, 2015 in Blog

Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, or CO-OPs, were placed in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as an alternative to the public option. During the health care debate in 2009, proponents of more government control wanted a program that would compete with private insurance companies, hence the public option.

Despite promises of faster commutes, Seattle’s transit-only lanes failing drivers

August 17, 2015 in Blog

The recent news story about public officials not letting the Ride the Ducks group tour vehicles use bus lanes has renewed a controversy over reserving parts of public streets for transit only. Last year, KOMO TV reported many in the public are unhappy with the government-restricted lanes, including the tagger of the well-known plea, “Metro stop stealing our lanes.”  The public response prompted a debate about whether the lanes are working for people or not.

Spokane City Council tables paid sick leave proposal

August 15, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday the Spokane City Council announced it has put off considering a paid sick leave proposal until next year's budget work is complete.  The City says the decision is in response to numerous requests for “additional time to public input and a more detailed analysis of potential economic and community health impacts.”

Statement by Washington Policy Center on Supreme Court's McCleary sanction order

August 14, 2015 in Blog

Today’s extreme and unprecedented ruling by the state Supreme Court will do nothing to improve education outcomes for Washington students.

Washington Policy Center agrees with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson that the unprecedented contempt sanctions should have been vacated after the historic investment from lawmakers in basic education this session.

Should Washington follow New Jersey's response to Court K-12 sanctions? Fuhgeddaboudit

August 14, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday the State Supreme Court in a 9-0 ruling took the unprecedented step of fining the state (i.e. taxpayers) for the Legislature's failure to adopt a detailed plan showing how lawmakers plan to meet certain K-12 funding goals by 2018.

Minimum wage hike is already killing jobs; fast food industry warns more losses are on the way

August 11, 2015 in Blog

In June, Moody’s Investor Service warned a higher minimum wage could erode profit margins in the U.S. restaurant business.  And while supporters of a high minimum wage like to say employers can afford to absorb the reduced profits, the reality is much different.

The CEO and CFO of fast food chain Wendy’s recently explained what a higher minimum wage means for their workers: