Here’s a thought: Open up secret negotiations and legislators’ records

We don’t make a lot of exceptions to this one: If you’re a public official in this state, you’re subject to the Public Records Act. Citizens can request your work documents and schedule, your e-mails and briefing materials. It’s important for building trust in the system and holding officials accountable. The Public Records Act applies […]

Coming soon? Gas tax info, right at the pump

Paying taxes has been pretty low on people’s “fun” list for some time now, and paying them these days can give you a headache. Just ask the last-minute filers scrambling to finish their income tax returns this week. They re-learned an annual lesson: our federal tax system is immensely complicated. Giving over your hard-earned dollars […]

We’ll have to force government to be more transparent

Open data – perhaps one of the nerdier and more obscure topics we discuss with some regularity on SGW – is clearly the future of government information. The clumsy, time-consuming ask-and-approve public records request system is the past. It’s a creaky old way of doing things that is due for an update. Proacatively publishing government […]

Inslee conveys that our rural areas’ concerns aren’t very important

Our state’s rural areas have been left in the lurch by the state Supreme Court’s 2016 Hirst decision that greatly raises costs on wells for homes. Critics of the decision have complained that the court has stepped beyond its proper role and is acting like a policy-setting body. The court’s decision effectively halted homebuilding in […]

New technology has potential to benefit environment and bolster state dairies

Dairy farmers in Washington are besieged. I’m frequently impressed by their stewardship and their adaptability, but they face a well-funded opposition for whom their efforts are never enough. For instance, the state Department of Ecology passed expensive new regulations, forcing family farmers to fight for reasonable changes (and those were blasted by opponents). Outside groups […]

The lie that a capital gains income tax is really an excise tax

In their ongoing quest for “progressivity,” House Democrats in Olympia announced new taxes to pay for their budget proposal, which spends more than the Senate Republicans’ budget. Notably absent was any sort of carbon tax. Despite a Democrat-controlled House and a governor anxious to sign anything with the word “carbon” in it, the votes just […]

This era might change how the left feels about federalism

Federalism – the idea that states retain powers not granted to the federal government and they should exercise them – has long been more popular on the right. With President Trump in the White House and Republican majorities in Congress, the left is discovering, hey, maybe federalism isn’t so bad after all. If federalism gains […]

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. […]