Features

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.

Washington Has Nation’s 5th Highest Union Membership Rate

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the national union membership rate was 11.1 percent in 2015 (the same as in 2014). Washington’s total union membership rate was 16.8 percent in 2015, also unchanged since 2014. In 2015, Washington’s public-sector union membership rate was 46.1 percent and its private-sector union membership rate was 11.0 percent.

Minimum Wage Bill Proposed as Alternative to Statewide Initiative

A Senate committee considered a bill Monday to incrementally raise the state’s minimum wage, an effort that has mixed support in the business community and is opposed by labor groups. Senate Bill 6087 would raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour over the next four years. Prime sponsor Sen. Steve Hobbs said the bill offers a better alternative than a statewide ballot initiative . A group called Raise Up Washington filed an initiative in January to raise the minimum wage to $13.50 over four years.

Montana Republicans and Democrats Stand United

When it comes to proposed legislation including the Colstrip power plant closure bill, SB 6248, it’s important to remember that the decisions of a few, in this case in Washington State, could result in a costly ripple effect stretching far and wide. It would start predominantly in our own districts in Montana, and ultimately touch communities throughout this region of the U.S.

The Washington Civil Rights Coalition Challenges the State Department of Transportation

The Washington Civil Rights Coalition (CRC) just took a big step in their effort to achieve greater equity in State contracting. The CRC is a coalition made up of over thirty Latino, African-American and Asian groups. They are frustrated that State laws meant to help disadvantaged businesses are not only being ignored, but are being deliberately twisted to the detriments of their communities.

Press Talk: Why did Benton go down?

Whether or not you believe government unions are too powerful, a conservative Republican who gets on the wrong side of the Freedom Foundation is in for a difficult slog. Benton might have been able to survive this if his career hadn’t been filled with lowlights. When Benton saw that blog post, he knew it was time.

The Green Sheet — Week of February 1

After the longest session ever (literally), most lawmakers came to the capitol in 2016 with one goal in mind: getting out on time. But election years are the wrench that throws everything out of whack, and this year is no exception. Already there are two proposals for McCleary basic education funding with different deadlines.

I-732 Taxes Pollution, Not People

Joe Ryan, Co-Chair of the Yes on I-732 Campaign, respond’s to the Washington State Labor Council’s opposition to I-732. Ryan says, “By shifting the tax burden onto carbon pollution and away from regressive and burdensome taxes that hurt families and businesses, I-732 focuses on encouraging cleaner energy solutions and putting money back in the pockets of Washington state families and businesses.” He and Carbon WA also disagree with the Office of Financial Management’s financial assessment.

Washington State Democratic Party Takes Position Opposing CarbonWA’s I-732

Saturday, during its 2016 winter meeting, the Washington State Democratic Party went on record as opposed to CarbonWA’s I-732, joining the Washington State Labor Council and IAM’s District Lodge 751 in the no camp. I-732 is a complex tax swap proposal that would levy a carbon tax while also reducing sales and business & occupation taxes.