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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Legislative leaders announced they will wrap up this year’s regular 105-day session two days early, on Friday, April 24th. Lawmakers will be back in Olympia on Wednesday, April 29th, however, to begin a 30-day special session called by the governor.
The Spokane City Council voted this week to establish a “work group” on mandatory paid sick leave. The goal of the group will be to eventually lead the city council toward adopting a mandatory paid sick leave policy for the city.
Today's guest post is from Wendy Purnell. Currently, she is the Director of Outreach at PERC, the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana. For six years, she worked with Paso Pacífico, learning everything she knows about sea turtles from their dedicated rangers.
Parents in Arlington scrambled yesterday to make alternative arrangements for their children as a strike called by teacher union executives closed local public schools. Union leaders in Conway and Anacortes also announced plans to strike, bringing to ten the number of districts where local schools closed to students.
This year’s regular legislative session ends Sunday, and while lawmakers will send several dozen more bills to the governor for his signature, they have not reached an agreement on a budget to keep the government operating over the next two years. Remaining issues include transportation spending and basic education funding.
Legislative leaders now say they must go to a special session. Governor Inslee may call lawmakers back immediately, or wait for leader to complete behind-the-scenes negotiations first.
With discussions continuing of imposing the first in the nation capital gains tax for a state without an income tax, questions have been raised about whether this would be an excise tax or an income tax. This distinction is very important since an income tax exceeding 1% would be unconstitutional in Washington.
Tomorrow is Earth Day, and activists, politicians and the media will push for policies they say will reduce our environmental impact. Often, it is simply assumed these policies will work and the only question is whether we have the "will" to adopt them.
Actually, the environmental left has a terrible record when it comes to environmental predictions and effectiveness. Repeatedly, their policies fail or even increase environmental damage to our planet. Their policy announcements are applauded, but their policy failures are rarely highlighted.