Constantine wants $469 million arts levy. What about homelessness, roads, crime?

Political candidates love to talk about priorities, but usually it’s only in a fuzzy “fight for what’s important” way. Talking about government’s priorities, after all, is sticky. It requires saying that A is more important than B, and that’s a pretty good way to get B’s fans mad at you. Keeping it all vague is […]

“Pure politics” charge against Rossi’s bill doesn’t make much sense

If you read Smarter Government Washington, you know I think the way state government bargains with state employees is terribly flawed. It concentrates too much power in the governor’s hands. It cuts legislators out of the process, even though employee salaries are one of the biggest items the state funds. After the package is negotiated […]

Mighty big assumptions that capital gains income tax would be offset

Ostensibly, lawmakers in Olympia are arguing over education funding. The debate over how to finally and fully fund the state’s McCleary obligations is seemingly about schools. In reality, education funding is where legislators have the most agreement, broadly speaking. They might be arguing about the how, but they’re not far apart about the how much. […]

Never-give-up income taxers hope Sup. Court grants their most cherished wish

Washington Democrats’ desire for a state income tax is relentless. The national party symbol is the donkey, but perhaps Rick Astley is a more suitable inspiration for local Dems – they’re never gonna give up on a state income tax. As long as Washington remains one of nine states without an income tax, state Democrats […]

Seattle’s “democracy voucher” program a confusing waste of money

Seattle is rolling out its new “democracy voucher” program, and apparently it’s leaving residents a little confused. Does it surprise anyone that this bad idea is proving confounding? Seattle voters passed the tax-dollars-for-campaign-donations program by initiative, so they gave it an affirmative yes. That doesn’t mean they have any idea what the vouchers are when […]

Dino Rossi returns to Olympia with a really smart idea

Sometimes a proposal in Olympia has such a force of logic behind it, and is so clearly the right thing to do, that you know it’s probably doomed. Sen. Dino Rossi is prime-sponsoring one such brilliant and necessary bill. The Legislature suffered a terrible loss when Sen. Andy Hill died, but Rossi has stepped into […]

On his first day, new state Superintendent picks union over taxpayers

During last fall’s election season, I expressed concern that Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) candidate Chris Reykdal was too close to the state teachers union. He didn’t waste much time confirming it. His first act after being inaugurated this week was to remove his office from an intriguing lawsuit begun by his predecessor regarding school […]

Inslee’s tax increases really are massive

Three topline reactions to Gov. Jay Inslee’s massive tax increase proposal: The actual tax hike is much larger than what’s being presented. Most of the news coverage presented it as a $4.4 billion tax increase. Since not all of the tax increases would be phased in immediately, that $4.4 billion increase would apply to the […]

Law requiring state pay raises be “feasible financially” is toothless

Gov. Jay Inslee and his budget team spent much of 2016 negotiating pay raises with 38 unions representing state employees. The result was pay increases that average 6%, at a time when the state is scrambling for every penny to meet the McCleary order on K-12 funding. The timing of these negotiations between the governor […]

“Local control” will be one of 2017’s Olympia buzzwords

You’re going to be hearing a lot about local control from the state teachers union, the WEA, in the months ahead. The local control issue is not about the local school board and apple pie and the homecoming dance. It’s about the same thing it always is: money and control. When the Legislature convenes in […]