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2015 Legislative Update

January 20, 2015

We Aren’t Really Beginning a Countdown, but…
Week One is in the Rearview Mirror: 
Senate 2/3 Supermajority for Tax Increases, Governor’s SOS,
and More (Including support for labels on food containing DNA)
Week one of the 2015 legislative is behind us. There was a little drama.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his State of the State address, calling for new investments in transportation and education and re-emphasizing his support for carbon taxes (a carbon pollution charge) and a new capital gains tax. He also called for a minimum wage increase, paid sick leave, and funding the Working Families Tax Credit.
The drama didn’t compare with the final five minutes of Sunday’s NFC Championship game, but what does?
We’ll be following developments in the coming weeks, posting daily on the WashACE blog. And, you’ll be doubtless hearing a lot of conflicting information about public support for one thing or another.
Nationally, more people say the U.S. is not in decline than at any point in the last 25 years. That’s very good news. Pessimists rarely accomplish anything. Most of the world’s work is done by the optimists … in business, nonprofits, and in legislatures.
Still, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out this shocking survey finding: More than 80 percent of Americans support mandatory labels on foods containing DNA. (There’s some good discussion at the link, including links to other commentary.) It’s a reminder to read survey results with some caution, particularly on topics the average voter has little interest in.
More discussion of Washington state policy and politics in the blog below.

From the Blog

The Senate Ways and Means Committee yesterday pass SB 5063, which the bill dubs the Kids First Act. The measure sets aside 2/3 of new revenues for education funding. From the bill report: From July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2027, two-thirds of any expenditures of new revenue to the state […]…»

UPDATE:  The Tax Foundation yesterday released a critique of the ITEP study referenced below. The governor felt strongly enough about one aspect of the Washington state tax structure that he repeated himself for effect in his state of the state address. Washington has the nation’s most unfair tax system. The […]…»

Seattle Times business columnist Jon Talton may have the best lede for this report. Take heart, ye boom fatigued. Seattle fell out of the top 10 of the latest Best Performing Cities report from the Milken Institute. Most of the state can only aspire to the days of being boom […]…»

Gov. Jay Inslee’s SOS message contained his characteristic optimism and his still controversial policy agenda. As we’ve noted before, a peculiar feature of this legislative session is the remarkable thematic unity accompanied by a lack agreement on the nature of the problem or the means for resolving it. The governor’s […]…»

President Obama’s call for free community college has sparked interest and controversy. The News Tribune points out that Washington is already a leader in access to two-year degree programs. Read the brief opinion piece for some examples. Here’s the crux: To succeed in today’s tech-based, communication-intensive economy, students need more […]

News intruded on what’s usually a largely ceremonial opening day of the Legislature. The state Senate voted to require a 2/3 vote for any tax legislation, other than measures requiring voter-approval. The Seattle Times explains: The rule change, filed by Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, would require a two-thirds […]

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