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 […]

Dems run the show. What now for state government?

Well, it happened: With a flip of one seat in Tuesday’s election, Democrats will now control the state Senate. Manka Dhingra, the Democratic candidate to succeed Republican Sen. Andy Hill in the 45th District, emerged victorious, so now Democrats will control both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office. The result in the 45th […]

McKenna on KIRO: Is the McCleary case finally over?

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about the latest state Supreme Court hearing on the McCleary education funding case that has roiled state government for over five years. Justices asked tough questions of both sides in Tuesday’s hearing. Dave Ross: “The other thing is, critics point out that while the state is providing more […]