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The 9th Order

House Republicans Rally At Wilcox Salmon Bake

By 9th Order | 2 Comments

With ballots scheduled to go out in just over a month, political campaigns and festivities are in high gear. On Saturday, in what has already become one of the premier annual state political events, Rep. J.T. Wilcox held his 4th Annual Salmon Bake outside Yelm. Over three hundred and fifty guests spent a beautiful evening on the Wilcox family farm. House of Representatives Republican leaders and candidates were there in force, but there was also a bipartisan theme.

CarbonWA Kicks Off Their Carbon Tax Shift Campaign

By 9th Order

The next two years promise to be one of the most dramatic periods in the political history of Washington State. In addition to extraordinary state budget challenges, and an unusual mix of other issues that must be addressed, the state will see a showdown on climate change and carbon emissions. To date the Governor’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce has dominated the news. But on August 27 just over fifty people squeezed into the Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar in Seattle for the CarbonWA Campaign Kickoff Social.

Friction At Board Meeting As Health Exchange Problems Continue

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“The system fixes that were implemented have not resolved these defects, and instead, the number of detrimentally affected accounts has grown.” In a letter to Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board Members dated August 12, Premera Senior Vice-President Kitti Cramer provided details showing the health insurance premium aggregation and termination notice problems at the Exchange are far larger than previously thought.

Solar Energy Draws a Crowd

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On June 30 the Washington State University Energy Program held a meeting in Olympia on Solar Energy in Washington State. The WSU Energy Program Director, Rep. Jake Fey, was joined by around fifty interested parties, representing everyone from the major utilities to leading environmental groups.

Ecosystem

Income Inequality, Climate Change Must Be Tackled Together

Climate disruption itself is an equity issue: The people who have done the least to cause it are the most at risk from its impacts. Working people struggling to make ends meet and our children and grandkids will suffer the most as water levels rise and storms intensify.

By K.C. GOLDEN and JEFF JOHNSON | WSLC Stand (union)

New Brief: Initiative 1351 Class Size Reduction: A $4.7 Billion Unfunded Mandate with Dubious Educational Merit

It would increase state K–12 spending by $4.7 billion through 2019—over and above what must already be spent to comply with the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. Local spending would also increase. The evidence on the benefits of class size reduction is mixed, but doing so for grades 4–12 appears to be a poor investment.

By Washington Research Council (business)

Washington State One of Three States Where Poverty Is Increasing

One in seven people (14.1 percent) live below the poverty line. This is up from 13.5 percent in 2012. Washington state also has the most upside down tax system in the nation. Low income families pay a far greater share of their income in taxes than the highest income families.

By Washington State Budget & Policy Center (liberal)

Expanding Medicaid Harms Economy

Even though legislators sought $351 million from the federal government, state taxpayers will be forced to pay an additional $462 million because of the expansion. At best, this cost may represent an additional $111 million ($462 million minus $351 million) in new state taxes. The moral tragedy is that Medicaid is low-quality health insurance. Many studies, including the high-quality study from Oregon, show Medicaid is no better than not being insured, and in many cases it’s worse.

By Washington Policy Center (conservative)

Washington’s Business Taxes Continue to Exceed National Average

Washington’s state and local business tax revenues rose at the same rate as the rest
of the nation, growing 4.3 percent in fiscal year 2013. However, the state continued to
impose above average business taxes. The share of state and local taxes paid by businesses in Washington ranks 8th highest in the country and at 54.2 percent is well above the national average of 44.9 percent.

By Washington Research Council Policy Brief (business)

Bring the Family! Labor Day Events Across State on Monday

Labor Day is a celebration of the incredible contributions of America’s working people. Several of the regional AFL-CIO central labor councils across Washington state are planning Labor Day picnics and events on Monday, Sept. 1 to celebrate and honor the working men and women who are the foundation of this state’s economy.

By WSLC Stand (Union)

Study: Take-Home Pay Buys More in Right-to-Work States

A study released by the respected Tax Foundation last week ranks Washington among the top 10 most expensive states in which to live. t turns out all but one of the 15 highest cost-of-living states are also forced unionism states, where workers are fired if they decline to join an approved labor organization.

By Washington Policy Center (Conservative)

Citizens’ Guide to Initiative 1351: To Reduce Class Sizes

Extensive research shows that reducing class sizes is not the most important factor in improving student learning. Researchers at the Center for American Progress, the Brookings Institute and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University have found no improvement in student learning from class-size reductions.

By Washington Policy Center (conservative)

Our State’s Election System Limits Choices, Alienates Voters

All this adds up to the fact that in over one-third of all the races for state house and state senate there was no Democratic or no Republican candidate in the primary election. And because the top-two primary eliminated two more Republicans and one more Democrat from advancing to the general election, all in all more than 36% percent of the general election contests will be missing either a Democrat or a Republican.

By WSLC Stand (Union)

What Grade Did Your School Receive?

Results from the new Achievement Index for school year 2012-13 show that 4% of schools received an Exemplary rating (A), 12% received a Very Good rating (B), 23% received a Good rating (C), 25% received a Fair rating (D), 12% received an Underperforming rating (F), and 5% received a Lowest 5 Percent (F-). The remaining 18% of schools were not rated.

By Washington Policy Center (conservative)

Carbon Pricing and Northwest Businesses

A properly designed carbon pricing policies in the Pacific Northwest can pencil out for the business community and can help point the way forward for the nation and the world. There are three ways to see that direct impacts of a carbon price on most businesses would be modest.

By Sightline (Liberal)

(Pay To) Park and Ride?

n July 2013, board members of the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority, better known as Sound Transit, unanimously approved a pilot program to test several efficiency-boosting strategies for a woefully oversubscribed parking system. The pilot scheme was budgeted at $495,000 and set for a 2014 roll out, with three key measures: Parking permits, Real-time information on parking availability, and Rideshare collaboration.

By Sightline (Liberal)

Building and Operating Small Nukes in Tri-Cities Gets Big Backing

By John Stang | Crosscut

For the first time, leaders in the Tri-Cities are speaking clearly in support of a new generation of nuclear reactors. And state legislators are listening. The industry leaders — mostly from the Tri-Cities Industrial Development Council — outlined their case Thursday in Pasco to a state legislative task force looking at nuclear power as an energy option to combat global warming.

Initiative 1351: For a Multi-Billion-Dollar Budget-Buster, Not Much Opposition

By Erik Smith | Seattle Times

State Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, raised eyebrows last week when he spoke up at a meeting of the 43rd District Democrats. He talked about the programs that would have to be cut to pay for Initiative 1351, and the lack of evidence that the measure would do any good.

Robert Reich: How to Fight for Economic Fairness in Seattle and Beyond

By Josh Cohen | Crosscut

The former U.S. Secretary of Labor talks in Seattle about public anger and reversing the increasing concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of a few. “The biggest problem we have in our economy today is our vast middle class and the poor don’t have enough purchasing power to turn around and keep the economy going — which is why the economy is growing very slowly and why job growth is perilously slow.”

Report: Unneeded Tests Putting Patients at Risk

By Carol M. Ostrom | Seattle Times

Patients in Washington are getting unnecessary diagnostic exams and treatments, risking potentially dangerous radiation and bigger bills, according to the first statewide report in the nation to gather county-by-county statistics.

Republicans Could Gain a Better Grip on Legislature

By Chris Vance | Crosscut

Low voter turnout and trends in national polls could make this a tough year on Democratic hopes for regaining control of Olympia. During the month of September, Republicans moved out to a clear 4 percent lead in national generic ballot polling. When you combine that with the fact that turnout will be extra low in Washington state due to the lack of a gubernatorial or U.S. Senate race at the top of the ticket, things begin to look very dicey for the Democrats.

Task Force Proposing New Taxes for State Parks

By AP | Columbian

The report from the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation recommends a sales tax on bottled water and an excise tax on motor homes and travel trailers. They could collect $100 million in the next two-year budget.

Unions Vow Legislative Action after Boeing Slashes Jobs; Defense Workers in Kent, Tukwila Affected

By Steven Goldsmith | Puget Sound Business Journal

Boeing union leaders reacted angrily Monday to the announcement that the company plans to move about 2,000 defense-related jobs out of Washington state. The Boeing engineers union said it will respond by calling on the Legislature to revisit Boeing tax breaks — an accountability measure that union leaders say lawmakers failed to do when handing over $8.7 billion in incentives to land the 777X project late last year.

Teamsters Win Arbitration Award Giving Corrections’ Employees 9.8% Raises Over Two Years

By BRAD SHANNON | Olympian

A few more contracts for state employees are getting settled ahead of Tuesday’s deadline for putting contract costs into Gov. Jay Inslee’s next budget proposal. An arbitration ruling in favor of the Teamsters provides pay raises of 5.5 percent in July 2015 and another 4.3 percent in 2016 — with additional raises of 2.5 percent for select positions.

Inslee Pushes Ahead on New Pollution Rules

By John Stang | Crosscut

The Washington Department of Ecology unveiled its draft rules Tuesday, which are supposed to help lawmakers set limits on industrial discharges into state waterways. Inslee’s proposal also would allow individual facilities to seek variances on their industrial discharge permits. A variance would essentially give the facility a limited-time pass, while it brings itself into compliance.

Washington’s Minimum Wage Going Up Again to $9.47, Tops in the U.S.

By BRAD SHANNON | Olympian

Washington’s minimum wage will go up by 15 cents to $9.47 an hour, affecting more than 67,000 workers, the state Department of Labor and Industries announced Tuesday. The increase is calculated each year, based on the rate of inflation, according to Initiative 688, which Evergreen State voters approved in 1998.

State Government’s Biggest Union Ratifies Contracts for Pay Raises Totaling 4.8% Over Two Years

By BRAD SHANNON | Tacoma News Tribune

Members of the Washington Federation of State Employees ratified a contract Tuesday by a lopsided 3,698 to 481 margin, embracing a pay plan that provides general pay increases of 3 percent in July 2015 and at least 1.8 percent in July 2016. There are additional one-time pay adjustments of at least 2.5 percent for about 4,500 workers in select positions.

Report Raises Questions about Handling of Welfare Fraud Tips

By Chris Ingalls | KING 5 News

The new report says 95 percent of the Fraud Early Detection tips reviewed were made accurately. The problem, the report found, is in the follow-up investigation conducted by the fraud unit. “200 of 200 cases (100%) were considered invalid,” according to the report, because investigators did not respond to the tips in a timely or accurate manner.

Split May Be forming in State Federation Over Adequacy of Worker Contract Agreement

By BRAD SHANNON | Olympian

The governor’s Office of Financial Management has estimated that the pay adjustments would cost the state’s general fund about $250 million over two years if extended to all employees, both union and nonunion, in agencies where the federation has workers. A salary survey by consultants for the state Office of Financial Management helps to back up opponents claims that workers’ pay is falling short.