Washington Policy Blog

The low-skill, minimum wage jobs praised by celebrity James Franco probably won't exist in the future

May 13, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday I blogged how actor James Franco is praising McDonalds for its readily-available and low-skill jobs.  Franco recounts how, as a struggling actor, he was desperate to earn money.  He had few skills (he had been fired from his previous jobs) and just needed a way to make some cash: “…just like their [McDonalds] food, the job was more available there than anywhere else. When I was hungry for work, they fed the need."

Celebrity defends McDonald's low-skill, low-wage jobs

May 12, 2015 in Blog

While McDonald's is vilified by the $15 minimum wage movement as the poster child for corporate greed and worker exploitation, one famous actor has a different perspective.

Last week actor, director, writer and college teacher James Franco authored an editorial in The Washington Post praising fast-food giant McDonalds for giving him a job when no one else would. 

Sound Transit could build more light rail without raising regressive taxes

May 6, 2015 in Blog

Sound Transit’s demands for new taxing authority have become a sticking point in the debate in the legislature over a new transportation package.  Sound Transit officials want an estimated $15 billion in new taxing authority.  They want a 0.5% increase in Sound Transit’s sales tax authority, to a total of 1.4% (which would bring the total sales tax rate in Seattle to 10.1%), a 0.8% increase in the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax authority to a total of 1.1%, and a property tax increase of .25 per $1,000 of assessed value ($100/year on a $400,000 house).

Young workers have been left behind in Washington state

May 5, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday U.S. Senator Patty Murray editorialized that every worker in America deserves to earn a minimum wage of $12.  

Striking teachers average $87,890 in pay and benefits, about $5,000 more than the statewide average

May 5, 2015 in Blog

Last night, teacher union executives called for extending their ongoing one-day strike actions to close more schools, expanding to the districts of Seattle, Snohomish, Lake Stevens and Franklin Pierce. Currently union executives are using strikes to close schools to 257,000 children, for the time being denying access to public education to one in four Washington students. Teachers union executives say they are using school closures as part of their effort to lobby state lawmakers for more in pay and benefits and for other spending increases.

Municipal Broadband in Seattle: A Solution in Search of a Problem

May 5, 2015 in Blog

Activists and elected officials in Seattle are pushing to get the city in the Internet provider business with municipal broadband.  Mayor Ed Murray supports the idea of government-owned and operated broadband networks and has commissioned a study to determine the costs and feasibility of making Seattle the first big city in the nation to treat broadband Internet access as a public ut

Public officials reduce road and highway access, and then claim “We’re running out of roads” to promote light rail

April 30, 2015 in Blog

As Sound Transit officials prepare to take over the center lanes of I-90, their newest online advertisement asks the question, “What’s to do when we’re running out of roads?”(Their edited clip was originally from a video promoting highway building.) Unsurprisingly, their answer is to build light rail.

The Phony Math and Ironic Economics to Justify Electric Car Tax Breaks

April 30, 2015 in Blog

Math errors. Exaggerations. Phony metrics. Trickle-down economics. The recent e-mail from JJ McCoy of the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association to the legislature has it all.

Electric car advocates in Washington state are again asking for a sales tax break on top of the existing federal tax credit they receive of $7,500. Their sales tax break costs the state about $10 million a year. To put that in context, that is about one-quarter of the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board’s annual funding.

Spokane voters reject trolley plan, but transit options remain

April 30, 2015 in Blog

After months of public debate and extensive research, voters on Tuesday rejected a nearly $300 million plan to preserve and expand public transit in the Spokane area and build an electric trolley system in downtown Spokane. But that does not mean public transit can’t be improved and made more efficient. 

Day one of the special session: Where do the state House and Senate differ on a transportation package?

April 29, 2015 in Blog

Over the past three years, state lawmakers have sparred over a transportation package that would raise the gas tax and other driver-related fees to build and maintain roads and highways, spend more on transit and fund the Washington State Patrol. In 2013, the state House passed a transportation package that included the controversial Columbia River Crossing project and would have directed state money to local transit operations. The Senate decided against voting on the proposal.

Seattle business closes as a result of $15 minimum wage; Olympia lawmaker supports a $20 minimum wage

April 29, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday an article in the The Hill noted that Democrats in Congress are now pushing to increase the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour.

KOMO News Radio covers teacher pay and benefits in Washington

April 29, 2015 in Blog

This morning Carleen Johnson of KOMO News Radio interviewed me because of the spreading teachers strikes in Washington, now affecting 80,000 students in 14 school districts. Teachers union executives are calling on the legislature for pay raises, so knowing what teachers are paid now is basic to covering these strikes.

Collective bargaining reform receives attention in special session

April 29, 2015 in Blog

Today marks day one of the "special" session and public hearings are already scheduled. Among the bills up for consideration today is SB 6098: Defining financial feasibility for collective bargaining agreements. According to the bill report:

Where is the outrage over “fair and balanced" committee hearings and work sessions?

April 27, 2015 in Blog

Last month Senator Sharon Nelson lambasted the chair of the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee for failing to hold “fair and balanced” hearings and proposed a Senate rule that would compel committees to run public hearings in a such a manner.

How much do teachers make? (Hint – the statewide average including benefits is $83,000)

April 27, 2015 in Blog

Executives with the state’s powerful Washington Education Association (WEA) union announced last week they plan to expand school closings by calling a strike for May 6th in the Lake Washington district, bringing to eleven the number of school districts subject to union action. The latest announcement will empty classrooms for the day of about 25,760 students, increasing to 70,000 the number of students affected by shuttered public schools.