Washington Policy Blog

Two simple ways to fix the SR-520 cost-overrun mess

January 13, 2014 in Blog

Washington Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson recently admitted the SR-520 Bridge Project she manages is $420 million over budget. Cost overruns have already consumed the $250 million contingency fund, and Secretary Peterson says she needs $170 million more to keep the project afloat. Peterson said “the good news” is she wants to get the $170 million from increased borrowing and by taking money from road improvements in other communities.

That’s pretty far from good news.

2014 session kicks off with bill that would streamline bridge repair and replacements

January 13, 2014 in Blog

Tomorrow, January 14, 2014, HB 2071 will have a public hearing in the House Transportation Committee work session. HB 2071 would streamline permitting and contracting to repair or replace structurally deficient bridges in the state. The bill is based off of the great work the Washington State Department of Transportation did when the Skagit River Bridge collapsed last year. Streamlined permitting allowed state officials to build and install a replacement span in just four months.

Climate Policy in Washington: The Republican Proposals

January 10, 2014 in Blog

As part of the Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup (CLEW), Republican members offered their ideas for effectively cutting carbon emissions in Washington state. On the whole, the Republican proposals yield more environmental benefit per dollar spent, but do not yield significant emissions reductions.

The key shortcoming of these policies is that they focus only on electricity. Washington state's electricity is already extremely decarbonized. As a result, focusing on electricity (as many of the Democrats' proposals do as well), is not going to make meaningful reductions.

Two New State Studies Say Regulatory Relief is a Priority

January 10, 2014 in Blog

Reducing the state’s regulatory burden has long been a top priority for the business community.  Businesses large and small have, for decades, complained our state’s layers of complex regulations are confusing, disjointed, contradictory and often impossible to fully comply with.  The call has repeatedly been to reform our state’s regulatory system in order to make Washington a more competitive state to do business.

Latest McCleary Order: Supreme Court judges propose state education budgets for 2014-2018

January 9, 2014 in Blog

                Today, Washington’s supreme court judges issued a court order that proposes education budgets for the school years 2014-18.  The judges gave only passing recognition to lawmakers and taxpayers for already adding $1.6 billion to public school spending, for a total of $15.2 billion, compared to the last state education budget. 

Sound Transit officials carefully select information for children's train exhibit

January 9, 2014 in Blog

Two years ago, WPC’s Center for Transportation found that Sound Transit officials planned to groom kids as young as five years old to favor, and someday vote for, buses and trains. Sound Transit officials had sought contracts with consultants that had “relevant experience in the K-12 education environment to assist…in shaping an initiative to support and encourage educators to incorporate transit-related topics in student learning.”

State Study Shows New Businesses Paying Entry-Level Wages are the Job Creators in Washington

January 9, 2014 in Blog

The state Employment Security Department’s (ESD) most recent report on job vacancies and new hiring showed a welcome increase in hiring in 2013.  An official with ESD said, “the employment picture in early 2013 was the strongest and most optimistic we’ve seen in several years.” 

Governor Wants to Have “Conversation” About Increasing State’s Minimum Wage

January 8, 2014 in Blog

On the heels of a new law requiring some employers in the City of SeaTac to pay a $15 per hour minimum wage and Seattle giving every indication a similar wage will be mandated in that city, the Governor has signaled his support for increasing the state’s minimum wage.

Anatomy of a budget gimmick

January 8, 2014 in Blog

When the Governor announced his first full budget proposal (his 2013-15 proposal was an outline) on December 17 releasing his recommended 2014 supplemental budget, I was very curious to see how it would comply with the state's spending limit. After careful review, it looks like it doesn't.

Climate Policy in Washington: Comparing the Republican and Democratic Proposals

January 8, 2014 in Blog

After months of study and discussion, the Republicans and Democrats of the Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup (CLEW) in Olympia released two different draft proposals designed to cut Washington's carbon emissions.

The two approaches are quite different but both claim to meet a standard of environmental effectiveness. For example, the proposal offered by Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) claims:

New Puget Sound Partnership Director Faces Big Challenge

January 7, 2014 in Blog

Today, Governor Inslee announced the appointment of Sheida Sahandy as the new Executive Director of the Puget Sound Partnership. Sahandy comes from the City of Bellevue and PSP Chair Martha Kongsgaard noted that while in Bellevue, Sahandy "created the City’s first suite of environmental indicators and targets." This is similar to the PSP's approach of using "Vital Signs," with targets for 2020.

2013 Solutions Summit Transportation Video

January 6, 2014 in Blog

The Center for Transportation's Solution Summit Pasco session has been posted online.

The Transportation session featured Dr. Ron Utt, former Senior Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, and Senator Doug Ericksen (R-42nd). 

Missing public records and "harassing requesters"

January 6, 2014 in Blog

During the heat of the debate last year on HB 1128 and whether or not government entities should be able to sue citizens to keep from disclosing public records, the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) sent out a public records request to determine the extent of any problem facing local governments concerning compliance with the people's right to know.

Those opposed to supermajority requirements, now propose their own

January 6, 2014 in Blog

The president of the Spokane City Council Ben Stuckart has joined the list of politicians who have apparently flipped positions on supermajority vote requirements.

A year ago, he strongly opposed Washington Policy Center’s recommendation that Spokane taxpayers have the benefit of a supermajority requirement to raise taxes at the local level. It’s an idea WPC has long supported at both the state and local level.