Relief may be in sight for school districts with school-siting bill

This year's contender for the Little Legislation That Could, House Bill 1017, appears to finally be on its way to passage in the state Legislature.

Comparing the House and Senate budget proposals

The House 2017–19 budget proposal would increase spending by $6.408 billion over 2015–17. Of that, $933.9 million is carryforward, $2.251 billion is maintenance, and $3.223 billion is policy.

Policy Today podcast: A more fair tax-appeals process for Washington state

In today's episode we discuss Washington state's less-than-stellar system for tax appeals, and how it could be improved. We recently wrote a report on making the state tax-appeals process more fair -- which could include the creation of a state tax court. Bipartisan legislation to do just that has been introduced in the state Legislature this year.

House budget proposal would increase spending by $1.548 billion more than Senate

The House budget proposal, released today, would appropriate $44.862 billion in 2017–19 (NGFS+). This is an increase of $6.408 billion over 2015–17, and it is $1.548 billion more than the Senate-passed budget would spend.

Senate-passed budget would increase spending by $4.860 billion over current biennium

Early Friday morning, the Senate passed a 2017–19 operating budget. As passed, near general fund–state plus opportunity pathways (NGFS+) spending for the biennium would be $43.314 billion, an increase of $4.860 billion over the current biennium.

Two nice facts about Washington's economy

The BLS reports that average weekly earnings for private nonfarm employees was $1,048.73 in Washington in 2016. This ranked 1st among the 50 states. (Link)

Washington’s average weekly earnings for production workers on manufacturing payrolls was a bit higher, $1,099.07, which ranked 3rd among the states. (Link)

Budget amendments adopted by Ways & Means include added funds for HEN, ECEAP and medical schools

Yesterday SB 5048, the 2017–19 operating budget bill, was passed out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Here’s a broad overview of the proposal as introduced, and here are more details.

Common Ground podcast: Rep. Drew Stokesbary

We're delighted to welcome state Rep. Drew Stokesbary (R-Auburn) to the podcast. As soon as we saw all the "Arrested Development" gifs populating his Twitter feed we knew he'd be the perfect guest. We sat down at the state Capitol in Olympia to chat about him being a younger member of the Legislature, how he got into politics and government, and his approach to working across the aisle. Other random topics of discussion: Kim Jon Un and Dick Cheney. Plus, Drew fits in a reference to "The Office" and we totally miss it.

Policy Today podcast: How Tax Policy Affects the Economy

In this episode we discuss our recent Special Report, "Using Tax Policy to Promote Economic Vitality." Too often, adjustments to our state tax system are portrayed simply as "breaks" that give certain industries and/or companies special treatment. But as our report shows, these adjustments play a crucial role in keeping Washington competitive with other states for jobs and economic activity that could very easily go elsewhere.

More from the Senate budget proposal

The Senate Ways & Means Chair presented his 2017–19 operating budget proposal yesterday. I provided some highlights yesterday. Today the committee is expected to act on the budget bill (SB 5048) in executive session.