Washington Policy Blog

Will the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency correct its legislative testimony?

February 6, 2015 in Blog

Craig Kenworthy, the Executive Director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) should correct comments he made to the legislature last week.

During hearings before the House Environment committee, Kenworthy urged the committee to adopt the Governor's cap-and-trade plan, saying that cutting carbon emissions would provide "co-benefits" such as reducing traditional air pollution like particulate matter. To make the point, however, he said something that is inaccurate.

Should fiscal impact of initiatives be described in ballot title?

February 6, 2015 in Blog

Last November voters narrowly approved I-1351 to reduce class sizes. Although the policies proposed by I-1351 are estimated to cost $4.7 billion over the next few years, the ballot measure included no funding source to implement the policy.

Washington’s teen unemployment rate is 10th highest in the nation…Idaho’s is 10th lowest

February 5, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee heard testimony on two bills addressing our state’s high teen unemployment rate. 

Washington has struggled for over a decade with one of the nation’s highest teen unemployment rates.  Since 2002, well before the recession, in all but one year Washington ranked among the top ten states with the highest teen unemployment.  Washington also has had the nation’s highest minimum wage.  A multitude of studies show there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two.

Equal Pay Bill would put employers in cross hairs

February 5, 2015 in Blog

In my previous blog, “Do Women Really Earn Less than Men for the Same Work?” I explained why claims that women earn 80% less than men are inaccurate.

Once other factors are considered, such as hours worked, extended absences from work and type of employment, women actually earn 97-cents for every dollar earned by their male counterpart.  And single women with no children actually earn 8% more than men.

Do Women Really Earn Less than Men for the Same Work?

February 5, 2015 in Blog

Earlier this week, I was invited to testify before the House Labor Committee on HB 1646, legislation enacting the “Equal Pay Opportunity Act.” 

Supporters of HB 1646 claim women who work full-time earn 80% less than men working the same job.

But this claim does not take into consideration a number of factors that influence male and female wages.  

State Health Benefit Exchange Numbers Significantly Below Predicted

February 5, 2015 in Blog

The Washington State Health Benefit Exchange released the latest sign-up numbers for 2015. The goal was 213,000 total private-plan enrollees this year, which would include the 140,000 enrollees from 2014 and 83,000 new enrollees. The deadline for applications is February 15.

The numbers are not even close. To date, only 87,000 people (62%) have re-enrolled and only 40,000 individuals are new enrollees this year (48% of the anticipated). In other words the state exchange is 40% below the predicted enrollment.

SB 5393 would give high-performing public schools educational flexibility

February 4, 2015 in Blog

Senator Litzow and several other senators have introduced SB 5393.  The bill would free public schools with the highest rank, “Exemplary,” on the state’s School Achievement Index from 38 of the Common School regulation’s 72 chapters.

Bills on abortion rules, marijuana regulation and childhood vaccinations to see committee action this week

February 4, 2015 in Blog

After a series of floor votes on budget matters, lawmakers in the House and Senate shifted their attention to committee action, with public hearings scheduled on several prominent issues.

WPC testifies before House Transportation Committee on increasing tax authority for Sound Transit

February 4, 2015 in Blog

WPC was invited to testify in front of the House Transportation Committee on January 28th to provide analysis on House Bill 1180. Under HB 1180, Sound Transit officials would gain authority to impose a 0.5% sales tax rate increase, a 0.8% Motor Vehicle Excise Tax increase, and raise property taxes within their taxing district. A video of our testimony can be found below.

Has the minimum wage kept up with inflation?

February 3, 2015 in Blog

Finding: Washington state’s inflation-adjusted minimum wage is 125% higher today than when it started

One of the most common claims made for increasing the Washington state minimum wage is that its purchasing power has not kept up with inflation.  Proponents say that if the national minimum wage had kept up with inflation it would be $10.88 an hour, not $7.25, as it is today.  (Washington state’s minimum wage is $9.47, 30% higher than the federal minimum).

Union to state workers: "Don't tell lawmakers about waste, fraud and abuse"

January 30, 2015 in Blog

Max Nelson over at the Freedom Foundation has a good post today that pulls back the curtain on some of the insider tactics used by public sector unions to advance their political interests.  Max got hold of the "Messaging Tips" sheet union executives give to their members when state workers lobby Olympia lawmakers for pay raises and increases in health care and pension benefits.

Bills on minimum wage, court reform, added spending, and cap-and-trade fill legislature’s busy week

January 30, 2015 in Blog

Entering the 19th day of the 105-day regular session, legislators have taken their first floor votes by the full membership, after a busy week of committee hearings.

The latest cost estimates for Obamacare

January 29, 2015 in Blog

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released its latest estimates on the projected cost of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. (Available at www.cbo.gov) The CBO's original ten year estimate in 2010 was $940 billion. Its latest estimate is for the next four years (until 2019) and at $571 billion is evidently 20 percent lower than the original budget for that period.

Have state workers received no pay raises in six years?

January 29, 2015 in Blog

Governor Jay Inslee says state workers have not had a pay raise in six years.  He is referring, however, to only one kind of pay raise, a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).  Actually, nearly all state employees have received pay raises over the years, as automatic step increases and normal promotions, though not a formal COLA.  By narrowly parsing his words, Governor Inslee is giving the public the impression that state workers have had no pay raise at all for six years.

District elections for Supreme Court gets public hearing

January 29, 2015 in Blog

This morning the Senate Law & Justice Committee held a public hearing on SJR 8205: Amending the state Constitution so that justices of the supreme court are elected by qualified electors of a supreme court judicial district.