Virtual Conversation | 2020 Re-Wire Virtual Policy Conference, Dec 10, 2020 Learn More

Morning Wire: 8th CD, Re-Wire 2020, Fiscal impact of wildfires

There are 28 days left until Election Day. There are 68 days left until the Electoral College meets. Congress convenes on January 3rd (99 days), and the next Presidential term begins at noon on January 20th (115 days).

That feels like 84 years away. Given the way 2020 has gone, in the time left in the year, we’ll learn Sasquatch has been running a bar in Pike Place market, John Kennedy is alive and operates a venture fund, and DB Cooper teaches at a small charter school in Chewelah (look him up, 20-somethings).

History is happening fast right now. When things happen fast, they can break. So, take care to protect the things that matter. Elections come and go. Friends and family last. Don’t forget to focus on things that last while you’re caught up in the election.

With help from Michael Goldberg

1. A race to define the political middle in WA 8

In interviews with both candidates in the 8th CD, with consultants, and with residents, reporter Michael Goldberg created this profile of the swing district. It points to an active effort to define and localize the district’s political center, away from the noise of other federal races. The 8th Congressional District, which spans the eastern portions of King and Pierce counties past the Cascades into Chelan and Kittitas counties, is a mix of left and right in Washington State.

Notably, this weekend, Richard Grennell, former Trump administration DNI and ambassador, went doorbelling with Republican Jesse Jensen. One of the doorbellers sported a Q bag. It’s a good microcosm of the challenge a candidate like Jensen faces: the target of effort might be the center, but the energy on the right is on the far right. Ask any strong statewide candidate (McKenna, Wyman, Bryant): it’s a tough balance to strike for Republicans.

2. Registration open for the Re-Wire Policy Conference 

The 2020 Re-Wire Policy Conference is set for December 10th and Early Bird Registration is now open. Like the Washington State Wire, the fourth annual Re-Wire Policy Conference is a non-partisan, policy agnostic forum for civic discourse on policy, politics, and political economy. It tees up some of the most important conversations ahead in the legislative session.

We have a built a unique, customized tool for conferences and conversations unlike anything you’ll see in the market today. It includes the same sort of experiences you’re used to at Re-Wire, including interactive sessions, smart “hallway conversations” and some of the most respected organizations in the state as sponsors.

The Convening Panel meets next Tuesday, October 13th, from 2:00 – 3:30 PST. If you have an interest in joining the group and offering your two cents, feel free to reach out. Also, make sure to register while Early Bird tickets are still available. 

3. Fiscal impacts of the 2020 wildfires

The Senate Special Committee on Economic Recovery formed to assess the impacts on COVID-19 on Washington’s economy. It has now expanded its scope to include another disaster: the 2020 forest fires. According to a presentation delivered by the Washington Military Department, about 546,000 acres have been burned this year.

Over past years, supplemental budgets for wildfires are one of the first things to get addressed in January. However, it’s not clear where those funds would come from in the near term, given the multiple variables at play. The presentation says “It’s too early to speculate on cost estimates… (but) the recoupment will be a very large dollar amount.”

4. Impacts of COVID on education budgets

Many school districts expect enrollment declines in 2020-21. Enrollment drops result in reductions to funding levels. During closures in 2019-20, state apportionment from April onward was estimated based on pre-COVID enrollment. In a presentation last week, the Office of Program Research noted that 2020-21 funding will be based on actual enrollments, with agency rulemaking allowing instructional hours and bell schedules used for attendance and enrollment to include remote learning.

It’s also worth noting that the formula for transportation funding is based on ridership. With pupils staying home, funding levels for transportation will be reduced. Washington received $217 million in K-12 funding from the CARES ACT, though a subsequent relief package has been halted by gridlock.  

5. Money flowing into the 10th LD

“The Money Hunt” found that candidates reported raising $1,227,234 last week for Washington State House races. Some of the most hotly contested legislative races in the state are taking place in the10th LD, which seems to be borne out in all the dollars flowing to the district. Angela Homola ($97K) and Greg Gilday (85K) raised the most and second most money of any House candidates, with Dave Paul right behind in the fourth position.

The 10th LD’s incumbent Senator, Ron Muzzall (103K), has also led the pack among Senate candidates in recent weeks. 28th LD incumbent Republican Steve O’Ban and Democratic challenger T’wina Nobles continue hovering near the top of the fundraising rankings as well.  

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