Washington Liquor Privatization Continues To Drive Sales To Oregon, Idaho

At ten stores near the Oregon-Washington state line the increases from 2011 to 2013 ranged between 17 to 67 percent, with most at doing at least 30 percent more business. Those boosts in sales were sustained through fiscal year 2015, the most recent year of data available. The Washington State price increases were largely due to added state taxes.

Welcome to The Jungle: Society’s Role in Our Homeless Crisis

Despite 12 years of court oversight of the foster-care system, the state still has a poor record of finding foster kids when they run away. The state has yet to meet agreed-upon benchmarks, so that legal case, known as the Braam settlement, continues. As documented in a recent Seattle Times Opinion project on youth homelessness, Washington’s foster-care system for youths like these brothers is a mess.

Washington Needs to Reform Its Tax System to Fix Broken School Funding

Our tax base has been shrinking for decades. Expansion of the service and information economy means an increasingly smaller share of consumer income is spent on items subject to the sales tax, which funds half the state budget. This means tax revenue doesn’t grow as fast as our economy and the demand for public services.

The Budget Shortfall That No One Wants to Talk About

During the 2015 budget negotiations a combination of savings and unexpected increases in revenue left the state with almost 400 million dollars, yet now increases in spending, driven by the Health Care Authority, have changed the picture dramatically in the four year outlook.

Eyman Anti-Tax Measure Struck Down

A judge struck down Tim Eyman’s latest tax-limiting measure Thursday, finding among other problems that it was a thinly disguised effort to propose a constitutional amendment — which can’t be done by initiative in Washington. Voters last fall narrowly approved Initiative 1366, which would cut the sales tax by 1 percentage point, beginning in April, unless lawmakers allow a public vote on an amendment that would require a two-thirds supermajority in the Legislature for future tax increases. The decision from King County Superior Court Judge William Downing is already being appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Lawmakers Blame Psychiatric Hospital Managers for Problems

When Sen. Miloscia asked about the hospital’s quality assurance team, Carla Reyes, assistant secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services’ behavioral health division, said it doesn’t have one. “Even though it’s been state law since 2005?” Miloscia asked. “When do you plan to have one?”

Gov. Inslee Targets Education Funding in State of the State Address

“Our next deadline requires the Legislature to fully fund basic education in the 2017 legislative session, and there’s no reason we can’t do that,” Inslee said. He supports a new ballot measure filed this week that seeks to incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage to $13.50 an hour over four years starting in 2017, as well as provide paid sick leave to employees without it. He also wants to give a minimum 1 percent raise to all teachers and add more funding for a teacher mentoring program.

Lawmakers Are Bystanders on Big 2016 Decisions

Citizen initiatives and executive action are taking center stage on a number of hot-button issues, with state lawmakers left to react — or relegated to the sidelines. In addition to a carbon initiative. unions and their allies plan to file a ballot initiative Monday dealing with minimum wage and paid sick leave.