The end game is obvious

The situation parents in Kent face is just one of many like it around the state. Schools there are scheduled to start Aug. 30, but the teachers union in Kent is prepared to strike if its salary demands aren’t met – even though teacher strikes are illegal. Keep in mind, the current Kent contract runs […]

Our national debt is a pressing problem, but it’s being ignored

Sometimes the easiest thing is to do nothing. And sometimes, that’s incredibly damaging. Doing nothing about our national debt has been the default for decades now. The consequences are piling up, and with each passing year fixing the problem becomes harder. We knew where this was going to lead but we didn’t stop. I use […]

McKenna on KIRO: Are these initiative titles intentionally misleading?

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about two initiatives on this fall’s ballot. Supporters of I-1631, which would impose a carbon tax, are billing it as a “pollution fee.” The campaign for another initiative aimed at preventing soda taxes, I-1634, is calling itself Yes! To Affordable Groceries. Dave Ross: “Does that mean we can retitle […]

Western State crisis shows lack of action, lack of leadership

No one in state government gets to plead ignorance on this one. Western State Hospital, a mental health facility, has been in crisis for years. The deficiencies, management turnover, aging facilities, escapes, and workforce problems are well-known and much discussed. The state has suffered numerous lawsuit losses over conditions at the hospital, and several courts […]

McCleary comes to a close: Levy swap prevails, funding now fairer

What a long, strange journey it has been. 11 years after it was filed, the McCleary education funding case wound to a close this week. Since the state Supreme Court first ruled on the case in 2012, it has been the Sword of Damocles dangling over state government. I did not agree with the court’s […]

McKenna on KIRO: Olympia can stop Seattle’s head tax

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about Seattle’s authority to levy a head tax, or employee tax. When the Legislature reconvenes, state Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) says he will introduce a bill that explicitly prevents cities and counties from levying head taxes. Dave Ross: “So there’s nothing against the law about it as passed…but […]

Why have a Rainy Day Fund if state leaders don’t even grasp its purpose?

We will suffer another economic downturn at some point – that’s a given. The “when” is unpredictable, as ample history should make obvious. As much as some like to search after-the-fact for those “voices in the wilderness,” such as those issuing warnings in 2007 of impending problems, those cases may have more to do with […]

State tax increases: There’s simply no need

It happens every year: Work in Olympia on the state budget doesn’t really get underway until the revenue forecast comes out. Then, lawmakers have a clearer idea of how much money they have to work with and can set their negotiating strategies. The latest revenue forecast came out Thursday, and it’s all positive news. In […]

2018 Legislature: The “don’t expect too much” session

Gov. Jay Inslee already rolled out his supplemental budget proposal and laid out his legislative priorities for 2018. He wants a carbon tax, and he wants a quick ramp-up of teacher salaries. Legislative leaders…well, they’re not really leaping to embrace Inslee’s agenda. I’m not talking about Republican legislative leaders; there would be nothing surprising about […]

Lawmakers receive capital gains tax lesson in Seattle income tax ruling

There is a very important lesson for Governor Inslee and lawmakers from last week’s court ruling invalidating Seattle’s income tax. In rejecting Seattle’s argument that its income tax is actually an excise tax, Judge Ruhl said you can’t redefine an income tax as an excise tax to get around legal restrictions. Judge Ruhl pointed to this prior […]