Washington Policy Blog

Four studies show Seattle’s dream of municipal broadband would be a nightmare

June 10, 2015 in Blog

Last month I reported on the push by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to get the city in the Internet-provider business with municipal broadband.  In the effort to move Seattle one step closer to that dream of government-run broadband, Mayor Murray 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 utility.

Pulling bill to repeal 1% property tax limit was the right call

June 10, 2015 in Blog

Rep. Larry Haler (R-Richland) made the right call in putting aside for now – by pulling it from consideration – a bill to repeal the 1% limit on regular property tax collections.  He says more information is needed about how the long-established limit effects the annual rise in local government revenue.

It took just six hours to draft a mandatory $24 million cost on Spokane business owners and workers?

June 5, 2015 in Blog

They held only three meetings totaling just six hours, but it appears a work group tasked with creating a mandatory paid sick leave policy to impose on employers and workers in Spokane is ready to forward its policy plan to the City Council.

Superintendent Randy Dorn’s attack on me contains many errors and contradictions

June 5, 2015 in Blog

Recently, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn attacked my credibility for how I described the proposed rules he wants to impose on charter schools and the families they serve.

Socialists blast labor unions for using minimum wage exemptions as ploy to grow union membership rolls

June 4, 2015 in Blog

The group that calls itself “the leadership of the world socialist movement” has published a hard-hitting editorial on organized labor’s efforts to carve out special exemptions from minimum wage and paid sick leave mandates.

Drivers in Washington are hitting the road; travel up five percent over last year

June 4, 2015 in Blog

According to new information provided by the Federal Highway Administration, driving across the United States is on the rise. According to the latest report, nationwide vehicle miles traveled (the amount people drive) in the first three months of the year is up 3.9% compared to last year. The Western region of the United States saw a 5.3% year-over-year uptick in road travel for March alone.

New movie about High Tech High School shows exciting benefits one charter school provides for students

June 2, 2015 in Blog

Last night I saw “Most Likely to Succeed,” a new movie attracting a lot of buzz in Seattle, about a charter public high school in San Diego.  About 500 people packed Queen Anne’s vintage Uptown Cinema last night, and the movie shows again today at 3:00 pm. “Most Likely to Succeed” was selected for SIFF, the Seattle International Film Festival, after winning awards at Sundance.

It’s back. Public campaign finance failed in Seattle in 2013; now it’s been revised for 2015 (but this time it includes one exciting idea)

June 2, 2015 in Blog

At Crosscut.com, reporter David Kroman provides the latest on an idea that was voted down in Seattle in 2013 and has been revised for 2015 – public funding for political campaigns.

Initiative 122 would lower campaign spending limits, reduce the maximum individual contribution allowed, and raise the city property tax to provide public funds to candidates in Seattle elections.  Backers are confident they have enough signatures to place it on the ballot this year.

Health Insurance Companies Request an Average of 15.2 Percent Premium Increase in Washington State

June 2, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the premium requests for health insurance companies for 2016. The information applies to plans compatable with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, and those sold through the state and federal health insurance exchanges. CMS organized the requests on a state by state basis. Only requests of a 10 percent or more increase were required to be submitted.

Acting State Auditor fights for dedicated performance audit funds

June 2, 2015 in Blog

Commenting on a tour of school children at the capitol on Monday, Seattle Times reporter Joe O'Sullivan tweeted:

Docent explaining executive branch to school children: 'I would say we have a state auditor - and we usually do.'

This qualifier is very troubling for several reasons but especially with both the most recent House and Senate budget proposals continuing to raid the voter-approved dedicated I-900 performance audit funds for the State Auditor.

Not everyone in Oakland is better off with a higher minimum wage

June 2, 2015 in Blog

Supporters of a higher minimum wage dismissively argue there are no downsides to a wage hike.  They simplistically declare that employers can afford to absorb the extra costs.  One Harvard professor that supports a higher minimum wage dismissively says: “If you’re so unproductive that you can’t pay a little bit more, then maybe you don’t belong in a modern economy.”

In the real world, however, things aren’t so easy.

What some minimum wage supporters think of employers

June 1, 2015 in Blog

After reading the comments of a blogger last week shrugging off the closure of Z Pizza in Seattle due to the city’s newly increased minimum wage, it occurred to me that what seemed like the insensitive (and even offensive) musings of one political gadfly are disconcertingly shared by other supporters of a higher minimum wage.

Lawmakers far apart on budget deal; 2nd special session starts Friday, May 29th

May 30, 2015 in Blog

State lawmakers passed a $7.6 billion maintenance transportation budget, House Bill 1299, with near-unanimous votes during the last days of the special legislative session, but they remain far from agreement on an overall state spending plan for 2015-17

Good news for charter school families: Superintendent Dorn delays effort to impose restrictions on charter schools

May 29, 2015 in Blog

There’s good news today for charter school children and their families.  Reporter Jim Camden at The Spokesman-Review provides an informative account of the reaction of charter school supporters on learning that the surprise rules state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn wants to impose would sharply restrict innovation and student learning at the new schools.

One liberal blogger admits a $15 minimum wage will cause harm

May 28, 2015 in Blog

Liberal political blogger and columnist Kevin Drum, whose musings are published in the leftist Mother Jones magazine, says he is “thrilled” that cities like Seattle, San Francisco (and soon Los Angeles) are mandating a $15 minimum wage.  Not because such a wage will lift working families out of poverty, but because he says it will “give us a great set of natural experiments to figure out what happens when you raise the minimum wage a lot.”