Washington Policy Blog

House Democrats pass budget proposal; Senate Republicans to vote on their preferred version Monday

April 3, 2015 in Blog

Lawmakers in both chambers debated their respective proposals for a 2015-17 state spending plan this week, shortly after unveiling and holding public hearings on them.

The House version promoted by majority Democrats, Substitute House Bill 1106, proposes nearly $39 billion in spending and $1.4 billion in new taxes. It passed after a few hours of debate by a 51-47 party line vote on Thursday. The House did not act, however, on the tax-increase bills needed to pay for the proposal.

Transit campaign in Spokane says $300 million tax increase would help... Sound Transit?

April 3, 2015 in Blog

Spokane Transit officials want to increase taxes on Spokane-area families to fund their proposed "Moving Forward" plan, which includes a $72 million electric trolley project. Spokane-area voters will consider the ballot measure on April 28th.

In the effort to convince voters to say "yes," it appears even the "Yes For Buses" transit campaign is confused about what exactly their measure would do.

The trade-offs of Seattle’s minimum wage hike

April 3, 2015 in Blog

While advocates of increasing the minimum wage claim it is a win-win for employers (because people will have more money to spend) and employees (who will earn a higher wage), the reality is much different.

Increasing the minimum wage comes with undeniable trade-offs. 

Senate Commerce & Labor Committee stops Washington from following Seattle over the minimum wage cliff

April 1, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday the chair of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, Senator Michael Baumgartner, did not advance HB 1355, legislation that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 over four years.

Senator Baumgartner said the measure would “be devastating to countless small businesses.”

House and Senate budget proposals move forward, while minimum wage hike and Governor’s cap and trade proposal appear dead for the year

April 1, 2015 in Blog

Today is the last day for House and Senate committees to advance policy bills from the opposite chamber. Next Tuesday, April 7 is the last day for budget and transportation bills to be voted out of committee. Lawmakers will now focus on passing a two-year budget for 2015-17.  The legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year in 25 days.

Senate releases transportation budget proposal yesterday, holds public hearings today

April 1, 2015 in Blog

The state Senate just released their transportation budget proposal yesterday. You can find the summary here. Hopefully you can read it before the public hearing at 3:30pm today.

The state House released their transportation budget proposal two days ago.

Some highlights from a quick review:

Quick review of House and Senate budgets

April 1, 2015 in Blog

The budget cards are now on the table. Now we'll see if House and Senate budget negotiators can find a winning hand to get out of Olympia with a budget agreement by April 26. We're still reviewing the details of the proposals but here are a couple of first impressions.

Does the Proposed Medicare "Doc Fix" Really Solve the Problem?

March 31, 2015 in Blog

The media has given a lot of time and ink recently to the bipartisan solution to the Medicare payment model for physicians.

Budget hearing moved to Monday. House Education Committee leaves $40 million in federal funding behind

March 27, 2015 in Blog

The House Appropriations Committee had scheduled a public hearing on the House version of the 2015-17 state operating budget for 1:30 p.m. today—just two hours after presenting it for the first time at a press conference in Olympia. Another meeting was scheduled for Saturday, possibly to pass the proposal out of committee.

In a letter on Wednesday, House Republican leaders urged House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) to allow more time for the public to review the hundreds of pages of the budget proposal before a public hearing.

Washington's Cap-and-Trade is Dead

March 27, 2015 in Blog

House Democrats released their budget today and the revenue from the Governor's proposed cap-and-trade carbon policy is not included. Bills necessary to implement the budget are never truly dead, but the exclusion of cap-and-trade from the House budget means the Governor's carbon policy is fundamentally dead.

Senate bill would let families choose to receive $5,000 in education assistance

March 27, 2015 in Blog

Senator Michael Baumgartner (R- Spokane) has introduced SB 6079, to allow families that choose to receive up to $5,000 of the average $7,400 in public money the state spends per child.  Parents can use the money to access educational services for children at public or private schools. SB 6079 would help lawmakers fulfill the key purpose of education funding, to meet the paramount duty of providing for the education of every child residing in the state.

Citizens to have unprecedented time to review House budget before public hearing

March 27, 2015 in Blog

Today was going to be like just any other budget rollout day in Olympia. A short press conference highlighting a summary of a budget proposal running hundreds of pages long and spending billions of dollars (not to mention potential new tax increases being proposed). Then just a few hours later Washingtonians were to be expected to have read, digested, and traveled to Olympia to offer public testimony on the proposed spending plan for their tax dollars.

Fewer workers impacted by Seattle's $15 wage than predicted in UW study, as UW refuses to pay new wage

March 26, 2015 in Blog

In the midst of last year’s raging debate over whether Seattle should increase the minimum wage to $15, a study by the University of Washington (UW) weighed in, finding 24% of Seattle workers would benefit from the wage hike.  Add in predictions of wage compression, whereby employers increase the wages of workers already making more than $15 in order to maintain the pay-scale hierarchy, and the UW study said one third of the city’s workers would benefit.

The budgets are coming. House to unveil its version on Friday. Senate to follow next week

March 25, 2015 in Blog

House Democrats announced on Tuesday that they will release their 2015-17 operating budget proposal this Friday, the 75th day of the scheduled 105-day regular legislative session

Obamacare's Fifth Anniversary

March 25, 2015 in Blog

Monday marked the fifth anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) into law. The Administration is touting the "success" of the legislation. What is the reality?

Americans continue to oppose the law. Real Clear Politics averaged six recent polls and found that 52.5 percent opposed the ACA and 42.5 percent approved of the law. This ten percent difference remains constant since the bill was signed into law.