The governors of Oregon and Washington are attempting to revive the Columbia River Crossing project after the Majority Coalition Caucus in Washington did not pass a gas tax proposal funding the project. News broke this evening that a third company agreed to mitigation terms. A Coast Guard ruling is needed, but not guaranteed, due to the 116-foot height, which would restrict water navigation. Even if the Coast Guard does approve, the Washington side of the project has been cleaning out their offices and the project has been shut down due to lack of money.
This morning, Linda Shaw of The Seattle Times provides an informative report on the threatened Seattle schools strike by union executives over contract negotiations with the school district. One of the issues in contention is the cost of teacher compensation, described as follows:
“Under the school district’s offer, she said [School Board member Shelley Carr], Seattle teachers would remain some of the most highly paid in the state.”
Yesterday I participated in a “Small Business for Sensible Regulations” event with NFIB and Senator John Braun. The event was part of a statewide series spearheaded by NFIB to highlight the national coalition’s effort to reduce the regulatory burden on job creators.
Data available from INRIX, a traffic data collection company based in Kirkland, reveals that traffic congestion in the Seattle metro area increased 23% year over year for the month of July. In July of 2012, drivers wasted about 2.6 hours sitting in traffic versus 3.2 hours in July this year.
Now that we've had time to review and digest the state's new 2013-15 budget, how did lawmakers do? As with all budgets there are good and bad items included, though the biggest policy success was that lawmakers allowed the 2010 “temporary” tax increases to remain temporary and to expire as promised on July 1st. The enacted budget also includes revenue and spending projections that balance in compliance with the state’s new four-year balanced budget requirement.
Today the New York Times reports that charter school teachers are younger, on average, than traditional school teachers. While charter school teachers have an average of two to five years experience, teachers in traditional schools have close to an average of 14 years experience.
Charter schools see the youth of their teachers as a desirable quality.
Tomorrow NFIB and Senator John Braun will hold a “Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations” event at Braun’s company, Braun Northwest, a manufacturer of specialty emergency vehicles in Chehalis. As the country gears up to celebrate the achievements of American workers on Labor Day, the event will highlight the regulatory obstacles businesses face today in creating jobs.
Today, the Washington State Department of Commerce released its assessment of the Energy Freedom Program, created in 2006 to "promote public research and development in bioenergy." As part of the program the state loaned just over $10 million to four companies, in partnership with public entities, to generate biofuels and renewable energy. One company just began operations in July, but the other three have been operating for a few years now and are a useful guide to the failure of political efforts to create a "green" economy.
Union executive Dianne Gross of the MLK County Labor Council and the Washington State Labor Council expressed angry opposition to the upcoming visit to Seattle of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The comments were made in a live interview August 17th with KIRO radio's Jason Rantz.
Among the provisions of Initiative 517 is the requirement to allow signature gathering “inside or outside public buildings such as public sports stadiums, convention/exhibition centers, and public fairs.” Public buildings, however, is not defined by the measure. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, Department of Enterprise Services, and the Attorney General’s Office there is currently no standard rule for signature gathering on public property though most public entities provide some opportunity for signature gathering with certain restrictions.
Sound Transit is celebrating Tacoma Link's birthday by holding events at Tacoma train stations. Tacoma Link, the 1.6 mile light rail line in Tacoma, has now been running for a decade and has had 9.4 million trips aboard the train. Tacoma Link is 100% subsidized, as fare collection would have cost more than fare revenue would generate. But that could change.
In today’s Spokesman-Review in Spokane, liberal columnist Shawn Vestal attacked Washington Policy Center for its recent analysis on Spokane’s Public Safety costs.
Our analysis, released last month and available here, gives citizens an opportunity to review how Spokane’s public safety spending compares to other cities of similar size (Mobile, AL, Stockton, CA and Fort Wayne, IN), and to other Northwest cities (Boise & Portland).