Washington Policy Blog

"Doc Fix" - Done Deal

April 17, 2015 in Blog

The U.S. Senate returned from its spring recess, passed the House "doc fix" right at the deadline and the president signed it into law yesterday. We outlined the details of the legislation last month:

http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/blog/post/does-proposed-medicare-doc-fix-really-solve-problem

Is it ironic that union members say they need a $15 minimum wage?

April 16, 2015 in Blog

Activists across the state marched, rallied and protested yesterday in demand of a $15 minimum wage for all workers.  The demonstrations were part of an effort coordinated by Working Washington in the “Fight for $15” campaign.

Shawn Vestal: There he goes again

April 16, 2015 in Blog

Liberal columnist Shawn Vestal of the Spokesman-Review doesn’t like Washington Policy Center providing the public with information about the Spokane trolley proposal, which is being presented to voters as part of Proposition 1 on the April 28th ballot. Spokane Transit Authority (STA) officials call the trolley the “centerpiece” of their plan.

As session end nears, lawmakers pass hundreds of bills, schools chief proposes last-minute $2.2 billion education funding plan and House unveils transportation tax proposal

April 15, 2015 in Blog

Lawmakers rushed to pass hundreds of pieces of legislation ahead of today’s deadline for advancing most bills passed by the opposite chamber. Some 300 bills have passed both houses to date, and 60 measures have been sent to the governor for his signature.

The Folly of Connecting Air Quality to Climate Policy

April 15, 2015 in Blog

Today's guest blog is from Dr. Kay Jones. Dr. Jones is a retired U.S. Public Health Service officer.  He served as the senior advisor for air quality at the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) under the Ford and Carter administrations. He was responsible for initiating the national program to investigate the effects of acid rain.

New charter school in New Orleans will add learning choices for students

April 14, 2015 in Blog

Last week National Public Radio interviewed Jonathan Johnson, the founder of the Rooted School, a new charter school opening in New Orleans. Mr. Johnson’s high school program will prepare students for the 7,000 tech-sector jobs predicted to arrive in Louisiana. Mr. Johnson believes students need more options than college. The Rooted School will offer a small-school environment to prepare students for a technical career, in addition to getting ready for college.

Insider Project Labor Agreements likely to inflate construction costs on Seattle public projects

April 10, 2015 in Blog

Earlier this year the Seattle City Council passed Ordinance 124690, forcing the use of costly Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and “Priority Hire” on public projects of $5 million or more. The new rule hurts the public interest because it inflates project costs; studies show PLAs artificially boost project costs by 12% to 18%. PLAs eliminate competitive bidding, pushing labor costs higher than normal market wages.

House passes transportation budget and turns to possible tax increases; anti-ticket scalping bill goes to the Governor

April 10, 2015 in Blog

With just over two weeks to go in the scheduled legislative session, state lawmakers spent long hours this week voting on dozens of bills. Measures not related to the state budget must pass both chambers by next Wednesday to remain viable.

On Thursday, House members passed a proposed transportation budget for 2015-17 by a 78-19 vote. The measure, House Bill 1299, would spend $7.7 billion in existing revenues. It includes provisions to repave nearly 2,100 miles of state highways and repair up to 50 structurally deficient bridges.

Is 2002 state collective bargaining law constitutional?

April 9, 2015 in Blog

On the eve of budget negotiations, Governor Inslee's budget office (Office of Financial Management) sent lawmakers a letter expressing concern with several provisions of their budgets. Among the concerns expressed:

Senate passes no-new-taxes budget; House passes budget, but members avoid floor votes on tax-increase bills

April 8, 2015 in Blog

The Senate voted 26-23 on Monday to approve Senate Bill 5077, a proposed $38 billion spending plan for 2015-17. The proposal includes increases in basic education funding in response to the McCleary court decision, smaller class sizes in grades K-3, a 25% cut in tuition at public colleges and universities, and a $2,000 raise for every state employee.

The Senate-passed plan uses the projected $3 billion in extra revenue the state will receive to increase spending without imposing new taxes.

2015-17 Budget: Senate would cut college tuition, House would allow tuition increases

April 8, 2015 in Blog

The Senate and House proposed budgets for 2015-17 take sharply different approaches to solving the problem of rising tuition at Washington’s public institutions of higher learning. Starting under Governor Gregoire, the state cut funding for public colleges and universities, while at the same time telling administrators they could impose large tuition increases. The increased burden falls hardest on middle–class families trying to gain access to college for their children leaving high school.

Response to Spokane Transit challenge of WPC research

April 8, 2015 in Blog

The following is a response to a Spokane Transit Authority Memo requesting WPC make "corrections" to a recent study on STA's Electric Trolley proposal. WPC's full, 17-page Policy Brief - an Overview of Spokane's Electric Trolley Proposal - can be found here. All sources in the study are provided in the footnotes. The WPC research staff has reviewed each of the points of dispute and provides this additional detail.

Building more light rail is not an effective way to reduce CO2 emissions

April 8, 2015 in Blog

Three elected officials serving on Sound Transit’s Board recently penned an editorial in The Seattle Times calling for a $15 billion increase in regressive taxes to build more light rail. Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Everett City Councilmember Paul Roberts and Redmond Mayor John Marchione argue that building light rail is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions and improve mobility.

Whether to raise taxes to fund state employee contracts sticking point in budget debate

April 7, 2015 in Blog

Now that the House and Senate have approved their versions of the 2015-17 budget, legislative budget negotiators will be hard at work trying to come to an agreement before the end of session on April 26.

Inlander guest columnist gets it wrong on WPC

April 6, 2015 in Blog

In his column The Ties That Bind, published in The Inlander on April 1st, guest commentator Paul Dillon laments the growing opposition to Spokane Transit Authority’s Proposition 1 by attacking Washington Policy Center.  Mr. Dillon’s statement about Washington Policy Center is wrong in a number of ways.