Upcoming Conference | 2019 Re-Wire Policy Conference, Dec 10, 2019 Register

Morning Wire: Amazon, budget requests, WPUDA

I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend and were able to take in the sunshine as summer begins to come to a close! This week we have an update on the latest in teacher strikes and negotiations, an outlook on agency budget requests, and details on the emergence of an uncommonly unified opposition from across the political spectrum.

As always, thanks for reading!

With help from Emily Boerger and Marjie High

1.  Contract agreements and median teacher salaries

The past few days have seen a last-minute rush of contract agreements between districts and education associations. Teachers in Seattle, Arlington, Vancouver, and Monroe reached tentative agreements after voting to authorize strikes if deals could not be met. Meanwhile, teachers in Stanwood-Camano, Longview, Rainer, and Evergreen School Districts do not have agreements and remain on strike. View an updated infographic on the state of teacher negotiations in the state here.

Data released from the Legislative Evaluation & Accountability Program Committee (LEAP) office shows that between the 2011-12 school year and the 2016-17 school year, median salaries in Washington school districts rose from $65,477 to $81,424. This represents a median increase of 24.4% between the year ofthe original McCleary ruling and salaries from two school years ago.

2.  Longview police pull over teacher supporters for “excessive” honking

Last week, Longview police began pulling over vehicles for “excessive honking” in support of the Longview teachers on strike. According to a post from the Longview PD’s Facebook page, drivers were pulled over for “non-stop honking of their horns for approximately 115 yards through a busy area” which they say is a violation of state law (RCW 46.37.380) and a safety issue. In the comments of the post they stated that the horn honking had startled a driver who then nearly collided with a patrol vehicle.

One of the drivers who was pulled over told The Daily News that after sporadically honking in support of the teachers, she was pulled over and given a warning for excessive honking and told she would be fined $136 if she continued to honk. Drivers that were pulled over were issued a warning but were not ticketed.

3. WPUDA: Why we sponsor Re-Wire

We are thrilled and honored to tell you that the Washington PUD Association has joined us as a sponsor of our 2018 Re-Wire Policy Conference coming up on December 13th!  This is their second year sponsoring Re-Wire.  Liz Anderson from WPUDA penned this pieceon why the association thinks a partnership with the Wire makes so much sense.

They join organizations we’ve already announced like Pfizer and Washington NonProfits.  We’ll announce more sponsors in the weeks ahead.

With Labor Day behind us, registration is now open for our 2018 Re-Wire Policy Conference.  Early Bird discount pricing will run for a few more weeks.  So, if you already know you want to be with us on Dec. 13th, you can sign up now and save a few bucks!

4.  Agencies finalizing budget requests to governor

Next week, state agency leaders face deadlines to submit their 2019-2021 budget requests to OFM.  These “Decision Packages” then get organized, reviewed, scored, and submitted to the Governor’s office for consideration. The Governor’s budget(s) come out in December.

OFM provides the estimated beginning fund balance that each agency can use to prepare 2019-2021 budget requests. It is drawn from the beginning balance in the 2017-2019 account. The “Forest Fire Protection Assessment” had $11.6m left in it. The “Transportation Improvement Account” opening balance is $79.9m.

Requests for 2019 Supplemental Budget allocations are due by Oct. 1st.

5.  “Bernie Sanders goes after Amazon”

Amazon is facing an increasingly uncommonly unified opposition from across the political spectrum.  Bernie Sanders has called for companies like Amazon to pay a tax equal to whatever social benefits the federal government provides its low income workers.  He cited, in part, Amazon’s low median wage. Tucker Carlson said he “actually agrees with Bernie Sanders,” doing so in support of free market principles, he says.  Even the National Review chimed in with a powerful view of life as an Amazon employee.

Getting the left and the right to agree on anything – particularly the polar opposites – is impressive.  Pharmaceutical pricing does it.  So did John McCain’s passing (mostly).  Amazon execs face a Congressional hearing this week. I expect they’ll be treated more like pharma than McCain.