Washington Policy Blog

Seattle Times Editorial Board says raising federal gas tax "probably a bad idea" for Washington state

July 7, 2014 in Blog

The Seattle Times Editorial Board says Congress needs to act to fix the soon-to-be-broke Highway Trust Fund, but they say raising the federal 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax is not the way to do it. Lately, Congress has been spending money out of the Highway Trust Fund faster than gas tax money comes in to support it.  The solution, Times editors say, needs to come quickly because Congress only has about 30 days to solve the problem.

State Prepares to Adopt Water Quality Standards So High They Can’t Be Met

July 7, 2014 in Blog

Today Fox News aired a story discussing the dramatically increased fish consumption rate that will soon be adopted by the Washington state Department of Ecology (DOE).  The story included comments from the Washington Policy Center, which began researching and commenting on the fish consumption issue in 2012.

Congressional Budget Office Undermines Key Assumption of Governor's Low-Carbon Fuel Standard

July 7, 2014 in Blog

Famed physicist Neils Bohr once noted, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." If you compound that difficulty by betting major public policy on your ability to predict correctly, the result is likely to be a costly failure.

Take, for example, Governor Inslee's predictions about low-carbon fuel, which he now wants to make the basis of his policy to reduce carbon emissions. At issue is the emergence of a new, purportedly less-costly and more efficient, type of biofuel called "cellulosic" ethanol.

Does separation of powers still matter?

July 2, 2014 in Blog

As we kick off our 4th of July festivities it's a good time to reflect on the founding of our country. What better way to do that than to dust off the farewell speech of the first U.S. President George Washington.

AP reports on Dorn effort to stop children from attending better schools or receiving free tutoring

July 1, 2014 in Blog

The Associated Press (AP) reported on Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn’s announcement yesterday that he wants to exempt Washington schools from the standards of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The 2002 education reform law gives families assigned to schools that fall short the ability to select a better school for their children, receive free transportation and get free outside tutoring.

Superintendent Dorn seeks to deny parents access to school choice and free tutoring

June 30, 2014 in Blog

In a sternly-worded statement today, the state’s highest public education official, Superintendent Randy Dorn, announced he is seeking to keep parents from learning about school choice and free tutoring services to which their children may be entitled under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

U.S. Supreme Court ruling against forced unionization of home care workers may strike down Washington state law

June 30, 2014 in Blog

Although the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) did not rule in its Harris v. Quinn case today, as some had expected, on whether government workers must join a union, the decision does call into question the forced unionization of some Washington residents.

Is Governor Inslee Right About the Impact of Coal Exports on Puget Sound?

June 27, 2014 in Blog

Would you consider a change of 0.083 percent "unparalleled" and "significant"? Apparently, Governor Jay Inslee does.

Two weeks ago, Governor Inslee visited the Vancouver Columbian editorial board and defended his proposal to require an unprecedented level of analysis regarding proposed export terminals. His process, known as "expanded SEPA," has never been done before and would attempt to analyze the environmental impact not only of the terminal but of all the products being exported.

$15 Minimum Wage Won't Help Seattle’s High Teen Unemployment Rate

June 26, 2014 in Blog

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has unveiled a series of proposals to reduce crime in the city.  Calling it a “crisis of confidence” in public safety, Murray identified the city’s high youth unemployment rate as a contributing factor to crime.

OFM to agencies: Take 2015-17 budget requests off auto-pilot

June 26, 2014 in Blog

For many Washingtonians, summer is the time to wind down and enjoy much needed R&R. Not so for budget writers at state agencies and the Office of Financial Management (OFM). This is the time of year that the framework for the Governor's 2015-17 budget proposal is put into place. To facilitate these efforts OFM sent agencies budget instructions which lay out several directives that agencies are to follow when submitting their budget requests.

Is Climate Change Killing Honeybees?

June 23, 2014 in Blog

Last week, for National Pollinator Week, the President released a fact sheet announcing new efforts to save honeybees.

As a beekeeper, I can certainly attest to the value of bees for a whole range of reasons. I was speaking last week in Bellingham and one farmer/beekeeper in the audience noted that bees increase yields at his orchard by 40-50 percent. Others, like me, like the honey and simply enjoy keeping bees.

Secret budget meeting to be held at Thurston County Fairgrounds

June 23, 2014 in Blog

The latest in a series of secret summer sessions is scheduled for tomorrow in the Expo Center at the Thurston County Fairgrounds, 3054 Carpenter Road, in Lacey, according to the Washington State Federation of Employees (WFSE).

The clandestine budget meeting begins at 9:00 am Tuesday, and deliberations are to wrap-up by 5:00 pm Wednesday.  Members of the public, the media, even state lawmakers, are barred from attending or observing the high-level talks.

“As it stands now, Seattle is not in our discussions for future growth or expansion.”

June 23, 2014 in Blog

Today The Seattle Times featured business owners who are grappling with how to deal with Seattle’s new $15 minimum wage law.  While sobering, none of the business owners’ reactions to the mandated high wage are surprising.

The owner of a small, family-run hotel said he plans to raise room rates and reduce workers’ hours (but not their job duties):

Secretary Peterson to drivers: Get ready to live with endless traffic jams

June 23, 2014 in Blog

State officials tell the public that the gas taxes and other driver fees they collect are user fees, deposited into a special trust fund to maintain and expand the state’s road network to provide a quicker trip. It’s a promise to use taxpayer money and make things better. Yet, traffic congestion levels continue to rise.  In an October 2013 poll, 63% of respondents said they were unimpressed with public officials’ performance on relieving traffic congestion.  People’s frustration is understandable.

Obamacare Tax on Drug Manufacturers Will Result in Fewer or More Costly Drugs

June 19, 2014 in Blog

Part of the funding for Obamacare comes from a $2.3 billion per year tax on drug manufacturers. The tax is assessed based on the share of all drug sales for each company that specific year. The money to pay this tax will either come from higher drug prices passed on to consumers or will come from research and development budgets.