The arts and economic development

Stateline asks if the arts can help save rural America:

As post-recession, rural America continues to struggle, some rural leaders, using private and public funding, are experimenting with the arts as a tool to fuel economic and community development . . . .

New Policy Brief on I-732: Imposing a New Carbon Tax in Washington State

We've put together a Policy Brief - which you can read in full here - on I-732, the statewide initiative on the November ballot that would create a new carbon tax in Washington.

In brief:

Objections to I-1433's paid sick leave provisions

Nancy Munro of the Associated General Contractors of Washington has an op-ed in Crosscut today on Initiative 1433. Its focus is on the initiative’s paid sick leave provisions, and it illustrates how a specific mandated benefit may not be universally desirable.

Munro writes,

Agricultural production in Washington valued at $10.7 billion

In 2015, agricultural production in Washington was valued at $10.7 billion (up from $10.2 billion in 2014). According to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), this is a record high. Also, "Record high values of production were established for four of the top ten Washington commodities, including apples, cattle and calves, eggs, and hops."

Tax Foundation dings gross receipts tax

Washington's Business and Occupation (B&O) tax stands out as one of the few gross receipts taxes (GRTs) still around in America. Last week the Tax Foundation wrote critically of GRTs, noting that

Though gross receipts taxes are business taxes and as such are sometimes viewed as progressive, in reality, they have potential to be more regressive than sales taxes as they pyramid and are passed on to consumers.

“The tariff is the meanest robber”

A month ago Mary spoke with Jon DeVaney of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association in a Policy Today episode about trade.

Washington’s workers’ compensation benefit costs are again the highest in the country

The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) released its annual workers’ compensation report today. For 2014 (there is a data lag), Washington’s benefit costs were the highest in the nation at $825.33 per covered worker. The states with the next highest benefit costs were California ($776.86), Alaska ($682.06), and Wyoming ($665.56). Washington has consistently ranked first by this measure.

Washington's minimum wage will increase in 2017, whether or not I-1433 approved

Washington's minimum wage will increase next year to $9.53 per hour, according to the Department of Labor & Industries.

The increase will occur because the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased, and the minimum wage in our state is indexed to inflation. The minimum wage has been $9.47 since 2015 -- CPI declined in 2015, so the 2016 minimum wage remained at the 2015 level.

Growth Management Act: Time for a change?

On Sept. 20, the state House Local Government Committee held a work session in Olympia to review the Growth Management Act, Washington's comprehensive land-use planning law which has been in effect for 25 years. It was part of a larger effort by the committee to consider changes to the law.

At this meeting, the topics of discussion were: 1) The pros and cons of the GMA, and 2) What works and what doesn't.

Common Ground podcast: Joel Connelly reflects on politics, government and journalism

We're delighted to have as our guest Joel Connelly, longtime scribe for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Joel regales us with tales from his career in journalism covering politics and environmental issues, plus his earlier days as a volunteer for Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 presidential campaign and staffer for George McGovern in '72. Politics has certainly changed over the years: Joel notes that campaign fundraisers not only used to be open to the press, but they were bipartisan!