Washington Policy Blog

Spokane voters reject trolley plan, but transit options remain

April 30, 2015 in Blog

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. 

Day one of the special session: Where do the state House and Senate differ on a transportation package?

April 29, 2015 in Blog

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.

Seattle business closes as a result of $15 minimum wage; Olympia lawmaker supports a $20 minimum wage

April 29, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday an article in the The Hill noted that Democrats in Congress are now pushing to increase the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour.

KOMO News Radio covers teacher pay and benefits in Washington

April 29, 2015 in Blog

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.

Collective bargaining reform receives attention in special session

April 29, 2015 in Blog

Today marks day one of the "special" session and public hearings are already scheduled. Among the bills up for consideration today is SB 6098: Defining financial feasibility for collective bargaining agreements. According to the bill report:

Where is the outrage over “fair and balanced" committee hearings and work sessions?

April 27, 2015 in Blog

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.

How much do teachers make? (Hint – the statewide average including benefits is $83,000)

April 27, 2015 in Blog

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.

Regular legislative session set to end early; governor calls lawmakers back for 30-day special session to begin next Wednesday

April 24, 2015 in Blog

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.

Spokane City Council may mandate paid sick leave on every business

April 23, 2015 in Blog

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.

How Free-Market Environmental Solutions Are Helping Nicaragua's Sea Turtles

April 23, 2015 in Blog

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.

Are teacher strikes illegal? See RCW 41.56.120

April 23, 2015 in Blog

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.

Lawmakers forced into special session as budget talks stall; state Treasurer proposes state income tax

April 22, 2015 in Blog

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. 

Is a capital gains tax an excise or income tax?

April 22, 2015 in Blog

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.

Earth Day highlights dreadful record of environmental predictions and policies

April 21, 2015 in Blog

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.

Statement from Brian Sonntag on importance of public trust in State Auditor

April 21, 2015 in Blog

Brian Sonntag, former 20 year State Auditor and current Washington Policy Center Board member, issued this statement today on the importance of public trust in State Auditor: