Features

Washington Students Seem to Find New Tests More Challenging

Just over half of the children tested in grades three through eight met the standard on the new English language arts tests this year, according to data released Thursday. And just under half the state’s elementary students met the standard in math. Last year’s results had about 70 percent of elementary students meeting the state’s old reading standard and more than 60 percent meeting the math standard

Legislature Struggling with Transportation Deal

The big sticking point was the gasoline tax increase, which would raise that tax from 37.5 cents a gallon to 49.4 cents a gallon over the next two years. The package is built around issuing bonds to finance the $16.1 billion in transportation projects over 16 years. But the bill to approve the bonds to pay for part of that needs 60 percent of the 98 House members to pass — 59. There are 51 Democrats in the House.

The Sunny Side of Greed

Corporations aren’t paralyzed by partisan bickering. They’re not hostage to a few big donors, a few loud interest groups or some unyielding ideology. “They’re ultimately more responsive to a broader group of voters — customers — than politicians are.” Major financial institutions were well ahead of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democratic politicians when it came to same-sex marriage.

Initiative to Protect Animals Collects Enough Signatures

The Initiative 1401 Campaign held a press conference at the Seattle Aquarium on Wednesday to announce that they are turning in 348,627 signatures to the state Elections Office. That’s 100,000 more than they needed to qualify for the ballot. The initiative aims to strengthen Washington’s penalties for selling or buying products made from endangered animals.

Senate Scuffle Leaves $2 Billion Hole in Day-Old $38 Billion Operating Budget

The two-year spending plan hinges on the Legislature delaying Initiative 1351, the measure to lower class sizes that voters approved in November. But in an unexpected development, the state Senate shot down a crucial bill Wednesday morning that would delay the initiative for the next four years. The stalemate over I-1351 also is holding up progress on remaining parts of a 16-year transportation package in the state House, as well as a bonding bill that pays for more than half of the construction budget Inslee signed into law Tuesday.

Renewable Energy By Any Other Name Doesn’t Smell As Sweet

Unlike the rest of the world, our huge amount of hydropower is not allowed to be recognized as renewable anymore, thus we have to buy wind from another state and throw away hydro-generated electricity when that wind comes online. This rather ludicrous situation came about from a foolish, if well-intentioned, 2006 Washington State Ballot Initiative 937.

Deal Not Yet Sealed, But Gas-Tax Increase Advances

The Legislature voted in Wednesday’s early hours to approve the largest gas-tax increase in Washington’s history and the first in a decade. The 11.9 cents-a-gallon increase could pave the way for major highway spending in the South Sound. But approval of borrowing and spending plans tied to the taxes will have to wait.

State Schools Chief: ‘This Budget Is Not Constitutional’

Specifically, Dorn said local school districts are still using local property tax dollars to cover basic expenses that should be the state’s responsibility. In McCleary, the court ruled this to be unconstitutional. In a statement, Dorn called on the state’s high court to “take whatever steps necessary to bring the Legislature back into session as soon as possible.”

Why America Needs the Export-Import Bank

Past Congresses have reauthorized Ex-Im 16 times. They’ve always done it with support from both parties. And the past 13 presidents have supported the bank, too. It really shouldn’t be any different this time. It’s time for Congress to do its job, and keep America’s exports growing.

Budget Bill’s Done, But Legislature Still Isn’t

With about 20 minutes before parts of the government would have shut down, Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday night signed the state’s 2015-17 operating budget. But even as lawmakers applauded the accomplishment, they became locked in a stalemate that threatened progress on a handful of other bills. House members were sent home Wednesday morning at about 3:30 a.m. without finishing votes on the transportation package. After failing to gain the two-thirds majority vote needed to delay implementation of the class size Initiative 1351, the Senate adjourned until Friday. Legislators on Tuesday night additionally passed a capital construction budget, which Inslee also signed.