Upcoming Conference | 2021 Re-Wire Policy Conference, Dec 15, 2021 Register

Morning Wire: Rep. Beth Doglio, Special Session, Cascade Care

A special thank you to the Washington Realtors for re-affirming their Event Sponsorship of our fall event, the 2020 Re-Wire Policy Conference! We’ll hold the event virtually this year, allowing us to draw together voices from across the state. 

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With help from Michael Goldberg

1. 10th CD: Beth Doglio securing the progressive flank

Two-term state representative and congressional candidate Beth Doglio has won endorsements from the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, the Washington State Labor Council, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal in her bid to capture retiring Rep. Denny Heck’s 10th District seat. The 10th District race is one of only seven vacant Democratic House seats in 2020 and 19 candidates are vying for a top-two finish in the state’s August jungle primary.

Based on her platform and endorsements, Doglio is building a coalition of key progressive interests: unions, environmentalists, gun reform advocates, etc. In the wake of her recent endorsements, reporter Michael Goldberg had a wide ranging discussion with Doglio about issues relating to the Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), the future of organized labor, wielding leverage in a legislative body, and more.

2. Republicans push for June special session

Legislative Republicans rolled out their proposal last week for a potential June Special Session. In a virtual news conference, House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, Senate budget leader John Braun, Sen. Shelly Short, and Rep. Drew Stokesbary discussed the impetus behind their 13-policy proposal, which includes shoring up resources for long-term care facilities and nixing 3% public employee pay raises scheduled to take effect on July 1st. Stalling contracted pay increases had mostly bi-partisan support in the last recession. That has yet to materialize in these still-early stages.

When asked during the news conference how much new spending kicks in on July 1st, Rep. Stokesbary estimated there could be as much as $1 billion in new policy level additions. House Speaker Laurie Jinkins told Austin Jenkins of Northwest News Network recently “the earlier you make reductions, potentially the smaller they can be because they accumulate over time.” However, some are making the argument that the better idea might be waiting to see what additional federal stimulus funds will be appropriated by Congress in the near future.

3. Post-COVID policy thinking

Organizations from both sides are beginning to promote thoughtful policy reforms in response to the pandemic. It’s a sign, I think, of more to come in what could be the beginning of a landmark period of reform.

The Washington Policy Center has a report detailing which reforms they think should be made permanent. The Washington State Budget and Policy Center has a two-part proposal for a long-term state Recovery Rebate. Rebecca Houghton of LifeWire penned a powerful op-ed on our site about how shelter in place might change the way we think about domestic violence. Washington State Public Health Assoc. Executive Director Jeff Ketchel argues it’s time to modernize and fund public health

4.  Inslee re-affirms vision of public option

Gov. Inslee says it is “more important than ever before” to move forward with the state’s public option plan, but warns that it will be a scaled back version in its first year. Inslee provided an update last week on the impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of Cascade Care in a letter to Health Care Authority Director Sue Birch and Washington State Health Benefit Exchange Chief Executive Officer Pam MacEwan. 

While Inslee’s office framed this letter as a simple affirmation of the governor’s continued support for the public option, a summary from the Public Option Institute notes that this letter came just days before Phase 2 responses were due for the Cascade Care RFA. The Public Option Institute reasons that the letter’s timing may be an indication of a lower than expected response rate. An HCA spokesperson said apparent successful bidders may be announced near June 17, though the RFA says we may not hear until July 7th. Coverage will begin January 1st, 2021.

5. The scope of the ESD fraud in some context 

“Devastating.” “A real punch in the gut.” “Heart breaking.” That was the takeaway from three lobbyists I heard from over the weekend. They were responding to the news that “hundreds of millions” had been lost in unemployment insurance fraud to a Nigerian crime ring. We don’t yet know if “hundreds” means $200m or $900m, but with a Legislature facing stark revenue shortfalls, making up the budget hit from fraud will be painful.

For context, a 10% tuition increase at higher ed institutions would generate about $100m (assuming a small reduction in attendance, and a migration from higher cost schools to lower cost schools). Free all day kindergarten, which took the McCleary decision and ten full years for the the Legislature to fund, costs about $200m. Gov. Inslee’s proposed capital gains tax is about $975m. How likely is capital gains to pass? So, you can see how hard the Legislature is going to have to work.

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