Washington Policy Blog

Five Key Facts About the Governor's Cap-and-Trade Announcement Today

December 16, 2014 in Blog

Governor Inslee announced part of his climate policy today - a cap-and-trade system that would tax gasoline and other fuels. Here are five key facts about the announcement today.

It is Cap-and-Trade

Governor Inslee might let electric vehicle owners use ferries and toll roads for free

December 16, 2014 in Blog

As I was reading through Governor Inslee’s $12 billion transportation spending proposal, one line caught my attention:

 “Toll and ferry fare credit for [Electric Vehicles] EVs"

Governor Inslee seeks new taxes, announces $12 billion transportation spending plan

December 16, 2014 in Blog

Today, Governor Inslee announced his new $12 billion transportation spending plan. Under his plan, the state would spend close to $6 billion on the SR-520 Bridge, 507/167 Gateway, the North Spokane freeway and other highway projects. The Governor also wants to spend over $2 billion on subsidized mass transit and multimodal infrastructure.

The latest on First Place Scholars Charter School

December 15, 2014 in Blog

This two-and-a-half minute report from KOMO News radio gives a good overview of what’s happening at First Place Scholars Charter School in Seattle.  It also includes my comments about the advantage charter schools have in turning things around quickly to improve learning from students, improvements that are difficult, or never attempted, at many failing traditional public schools.

Seattle Times story shows charter school law is working

December 10, 2014 in Blog

A front-page story in The Seattle Times by Leah Todd reports on troubles at First Place Scholars Charter School, the headline saying the school is in “disarray” over recent leadership changes.  Yet the details of the story show that Washington’s best-in-the-nation charter school law is working as intended.

U.S. Sen. Murray/Rep. Ryan want Congress to reform the way the federal budget and policy are adopted

December 10, 2014 in Blog

It's not often you see Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree on much let alone reforms to the way the federal budget and policy are adopted. This is what makes the bipartisan introduction of the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington (D) and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (R) so exciting. Sen.

Remy Trupin leaving Budget and Policy Center

December 9, 2014 in Blog

Tiffany Turner, President of the Board at the left-leaning Washington State Budget and Policy Center announced today the departure of their long-serving and founding director, Remy Trupin.  He will stay on during a transition period as the organization brings in new leadership.

We at Washington Policy Center always enjoy debating the issues and crunching the numbers, although from a different perspective, with our friends on the progressive side, all in the search for good policy ideas that serve the people of our state.

King County Officials Cancel Proposed Fee Increase on Wireless Services

December 8, 2014 in Blog

In October, I wrote about King County officials’ proposal to dramatically increase the Right of Way (ROW) use fee they charged to wireless phone providers.  In their proposed 2015-16 county budget, some County officials wanted to increase the fee from the current $2,000 to $5,000 to a staggering $10,000, with a 4% automatic increase every year.  The fee is ultimately paid by cell phone customers in the form of higher service prices.

Will Gov. Inslee propose tax increases to provide government pay raises?

December 5, 2014 in Blog

Based on the announcement today by the Office of Financial Management that the secretly negotiated state employee contract agreements have been deemed financially feasible we can assume one of two things:

Does Washington rank 41st, 30th, 22nd or 6th in education? It depends on how you count

December 4, 2014 in Blog

As lawmakers prepare for the upcoming legislative session in Olympia, there is a lot of debate about where our state ranks in education spending.  As an analyst, I know this all depends on what metric a lawmaker uses, and the metric chosen often depends on whether the lawmaker wants to increase taxes.  A poor ranking makes it appear that more spending and a heavier tax burden are urgently needed.

Part 3: Why L&I’s “Lower Than First Proposed” .8% Workers’ Comp Tax Increase Is Not a Great Deal for Employers or Workers

December 3, 2014 in Blog

While the seemingly “modest” or “measured” .8% increase in workers’ compensation taxes for 2015 appear unremarkable and have garnered little criticism, our neighbors to the south continue to enjoy significant rate decreases.

Part 2: Why L&I’s “Lower Than First Proposed” .8% Workers’ Comp Tax Increase Is Not a Great Deal for Employers or Workers

December 3, 2014 in Blog

After announcing an average workers’ compensation tax increase for 2015 that is less than originally proposed, the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is making sure the business community and media know how much employers and workers will save.   

Why L&I’s “Lower Than First Proposed” .8% Workers’ Comp Tax Increase Is No Great Deal for Employers or Workers

December 3, 2014 in Blog

Last week the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) announced the average rate increase for workers’ compensation taxes in 2015 would be .8%, a full percentage point less than the 1.8% increase the agency first proposed this fall.  L&I says this lower tax rate will allow employers and workers to “keep about $20 million in their pocketbooks—money they would have paid into the syst

Washington State Oyster Harvests Rising Despite Claims of Acidification

December 3, 2014 in Blog

Last year was a banner year for oyster aquaculture in Washington state waters.

According to data from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the harvest of shelled oysters rose dramatically last year, more than double the amount from 2012, and 78 percent higher than the previous high in 2005.