Washington Policy Blog

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.

Medicaid Increases the Number of Emergency Room Visits

January 5, 2014 in Blog

Researchers conducting the Oregon Medicaid study released more results last week. It turns out that having Medicaid health insurance actually increases emergency room visits by 40 percent.

JLARC releases guidance for drafting tax preference performance statements

January 3, 2014 in Blog

Last year the Legislature passed a requirement for bills creating or expanding tax preferences to include a performance statement to identify the expected outcome for the policy change. We were very happy to work with Rep. Carlyle, Chair of the House Finance Committee, on this concept.

The most important vote of 2014 - Boeing 777X contract

January 2, 2014 in Blog

Although 2014 is a general election year with control of the Legislature up for grabs and still unknown ballot measures yet to qualify, perhaps the most important vote of the year will be tomorrow on Boeing's 777X contract offer. Not only does this union vote have the potential to impact tens of thousands of jobs, but it could dramatically change the state's fiscal outlook, not to mention its economic psyche.

More Obamacare Exemptions and Delays

December 20, 2013 in Blog

The Obama Administration continues to lurch from one fix to another as the Obamacare trainwreck barrels down the tracks. The latest came yesterday when officials declared that people with cancelled health insurance could purchase simple catastrophic plans for one year on a "hardship" exemption.

Politics are More Fun Than Climate Leadership

December 20, 2013 in Blog

It is a familiar pattern. Politicians promise to take a science-based approach to climate policy only to ditch the science and data for partisan politics and feel-good rhetoric when deadlines draw near.

In his editorial board meeting with the Olympian, Governor Inslee had this to say about the climate policy he wants:

No transportation package this year, lawmakers announce

December 18, 2013 in Blog

Governor Inslee and House and Senate negotiators recently announced that they will continue talks on a transportation tax package during the regular session beginning January 13, 2014.

The press release follows:

Joint Statement issued tonight from Governor Jay Inslee and the bipartisan House and Senate transportation negotiators on the next phase of  transportation revenue package negotiations

 

Seattle City Council’s Taxi & Rideshare plan stifles innovation

December 18, 2013 in Blog

The Seattle City Council’s Taxi, For Hire, and Limousine Committee recently unveiled draft plans for a two year rideshare pilot program to regulate the spate of new companies that offer citizens an alternative to driving and traditional taxi services. The city’s proposal, echoing century-old regulations on taxicabs, stifles innovation and unfairly picks winners and losers.

No "New" Health Insurance Break for Small Employers

December 18, 2013 in Blog

The Obama Administration and leading Washington state Democrats are now promoting a "new" plan that allows employers to purchase employee health insurance with federal tax credits. This is being advertized as a one-year stop-gap measure to give employers financial releif until the the SHOP program is up and running state-wide in 2015.

Washington Post under-reports Washington state teacher salaries

December 17, 2013 in Blog

Two days ago the Washington Post published a map of the states showing average teacher pay in the 50 states. The map reports teachers in Washington state receive an average estimated salary of only $53,571.   

Estate Taxes - An Unintended Consequence of Obamacare

December 16, 2013 in Blog

Medicaid began in 1965 as a health insurance entitlement for poor children and their families. Over the past 48 years, the program expanded to include disabled adults and long-term care. Today in the legacy Medicaid, 25% of enrollees are disabled and long-term care adults, but these people account for 75% of the cost of the overall program.

McCleary Decision is not about spending money, but about improving schools, say Senate leaders

December 13, 2013 in Blog

On Tuesday, the Majority Coalition Caucus held a press conference to announce their plans for the 2014 Legislative Session.  When a reporter asked what plan A is for the Majority Coalition Caucus, Senator Tom said:

Sound Transit says University Link may open early, after a decade of delay

December 12, 2013 in Blog

In 1996, voters approved Sound Transit’s 10 year plan for a light rail system that would stretch from Seatac to the University of Washington. In 2009, thirteen years later, the initial segment opened from Seatac to Downtown Seattle. The 3.1 mile light rail connector from Downtown to the University, called University Link, is planned to open in 2016.  

$15 Minimum Wage Initiative Filed in Seattle

December 12, 2013 in Blog

Despite Seattle mayor-elect Ed Murray’s hope that a $15 minimum wage would be decided by the Seattle City Council and not by voters, an initiative was filed today with the City of Seattle Clerk’s Office to establish new minimum wage rates.  In a twist, the initiative also would also lower the City’s Square Footage Business Tax and Business & Occupation Tax on employers.