Our state election was important too – what will it mean for 2017?

All eyes were on the national election last week, understandably, but our state tallied some important results too. What will they mean for smarter government in 2017? Legislature: When legislators return to the capitol in January to tackle the remaining work on McCleary (realistically this will occupy almost the entirety of the Legislature’s attention), the […]

There’s a reason cell phone bills in Washington are so high

Our state has a little streak going, and it’s not a good one. For the third year in a row, Washington has the highest mobile phone taxes in the country. In addition to the 6.64% in federal charges (the Universal Service Fund fee and other minor charges) paid by consumers around the country, Washington cell […]

Little Lincoln County seen as big threat to union secrecy

Who’s afraid of open contract negotiations? Clearly government employee unions are. They see open negotiations as a big threat, so they’re responding with threats. Spokesman-Review columnist Sue Lani Madsen, proving that columnists can do pretty good original reporting too, captured the not-so-subtle intimidation leveled at Lincoln County Commissioners last week. The commissioners want to allow […]

McKenna on KIRO: Schools funding and your property taxes

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about the state Supreme Court’s latest hearing in the McCleary education funding case, and the likelihood of changes to your property taxes. Dave Ross: “But then [less wealthy school districts] would get more money for their schools, presumably, than they’re getting now.” Rob McKenna: “Right. Relying on local […]

GOP “annoyed” at Inslee’s tuition claims? GOP right about Inslee’s tuition claims

Before we get down to the heart of the matter, I’d like to take up this headline a moment: “GOP annoyed Gov. Inslee is taking credit for college-tuition cuts.” You’d really have to work at it (and headline writing is an art) to more clearly convey the idea, “Mere partisan squabble, don’t bother reading.” It […]

Obama spikes the deficit on his way out the door

The Wall Street Journal writes that President Obama is leaving a “parting gift” as he wraps up his second term: a 35% increase in the federal deficit this year. Some gift. The Journal explains the numbers: “For the 2016 fiscal year that ends next month, CBO now forecasts that revenues will rise by only $26 […]

Secret state negotiations: Good for employee unions, bad for taxpayers

State employees rallied in Olympia today for pay raises as union leaders negotiate a new contract. How much of a raise are they asking for? You’re not allowed to know. In fact, the state employees themselves don’t really know – not specifically, anyway. They’re rallying for a cause, but the specifics are withheld even from […]

Even “progressives’ dream governor” learns tax hikes don’t solve all

The people who advocate for only transit and not one more mile of road are fond of saying, “You can’t build your way out of congestion.” Their contention, repeated often, is that “demand” for the roadway from growth and from improved traffic flows will mean the roadway will quickly fill in and traffic will be […]

State Superintendent sues districts for funding basic education?

It looks like one of those double-take-inducing man-bites-dog stories. The state’s top schools official is suing seven large schools districts for spending money on education? Randy Dorn, the outgoing Superintendent of Public Instruction, filed suit last week against seven school districts for spending local levy money in impermissible ways. Much of that impermissible spending goes […]

Supreme Court’s McCleary oversight has complicated rather than clarified

It’s the single biggest issue facing state government, the one thing on which not just K-12 but all parts of the state budget hinge. You’d think, then, that the challenges facing legislators in meeting the McCleary decision are as clear as day. Instead, they’re about as clear as mud. How much will legislators need to […]