As most people know, Governor Inslee has broken his promise that, if elected, he would not raise taxes. His latest budget proposal includes a number of tax increases, and would permanently add new ways to tax people under state law. The new revenue would be in addition to the extra $3 billion the state is collecting under current tax rates.
A Seattle company has announced it is moving 100 jobs to Nevada. Cascade Designs, which make outdoor equipment, says Seattle is simply “too expensive” to continue to grow the business in a cost efficient way. Citing the city’s new $15 minimum wage as one of the cost drivers, the company says many of its competitors use overseas labor that is significantly cheaper.
King County Metro Transit’s vanpool program has finally become operationally self-sufficient. According to the National Transit Database, King County Metro’s vanpool program cost $10,658,554 to operate in 2013. Yet vanpool revenues more than made up for that – users paid about $11.5 million.
If transit executives and some legislators get their way, Washington drivers could be paying for an electric folly.
Spokane Transit officials want voters in April to approve a major sales tax hike to fund their electric trolley and other service additions. The tax hike would take the sales tax in Spokane Transit’s service areas (most of the populous portions of Spokane County) to 9.0% - one of the highest figures in the state.
This week, always-thoughtful Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), Chairman of the House Finance Committee, released an interesting paper discussing state and local funding of the public schools. He notes that for 40 years, Washington has pursued a “state funded” education system, where most tax dollars are sent to Olympia to be distributed back to local schools, and small added local levies are intended to pay for modest enhancements.
State Senators Curtis King (R-Yakima), Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), Joe Fain (R-Auburn) and Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) held a press conference today to unveil their plan to pay for more transportation projects.
While traveling to Olympia to testify on a bill on a holiday may not be a high priority for most Washingtonians, you may want to make an exception for next Monday. The title only bill, HB 2082 (Relating to commerce in liquor) is scheduled for a public hearing and executive action that day. Based on my best interpretation of that blank piece of legislation, it would provide every Washingtonian one free drink a week paid for by the per diem of lawmakers. Who could object to that?
On Monday the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee held a hearing on SB 5744, a school reform bill sponsored by Senator Litzow (R-Mercer Island). The bill would require administrators to consider teacher performance when layoffs are required.
With just over a week until the deadline for passing bills out of committee, lawmakers are busy with a full schedule of committee hearings, bills, and amendments under consideration. Any non-budget bill that does not see action by the deadline will likely be dead for the year.
One of the most common arguments made by supporters of Governor Inslee's cap-and-trade legislation is that a similar system in the NE United States is working well and has not harmed the economy. Advocates claim Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiation, known as RGGI, has cut carbon emissions and the economy wasn't harmed.
Congestion relief is not a priority when state officials spend transportation dollars, but that may soon change. House Bill 1939 would re-establish congestion relief as a transportation policy goal, creating an official relationship between spending and relieving traffic congestion.
Prior to 2007, lawmakers had implemented very specific performance measures that tied spending to measurable benchmarks to provide congestion relief. They were:
It may be the best deal state officials choose to pass up this session, buy two ferries and get one free. It all depends on whether state lawmakers want to leave money on the table when it comes to ferry purchases. According to the Washington State Auditor, Washington taxpayers pay some of the highest costs in the nation to build ferries.
Senate Bill 5550, introduced by State Senators Cyrus Habib (D-48th district) and Joe Fain (R-47th district), would establish state-level regulations on the rideshare industry. Currently, local municipalities regulate the taxicab, for-hire, and rideshare industries, while the state has oversight over limousine services.