Building long-term thinking into the budget process

George Mason University's Mercatus Center has a new report this week looking at state budget institutions.

A baseline for future study of Seattle's minimum wage

The UW research team that is studying Seattle's minimum wage ordinance released a report earlier this week that provides baseline employer survey and worker interview information. (There will be more reports from the team as time goes on.)

Under the ordinance, the minimum wage in the city will gradually increase to $15 (how quickly depends on size of employer and whether certain benefits are offered). It went into effect on April 1, 2015, with a minimum wage of either $10 or $11.

Restrictive land-use regulations make housing more expensive

Zillow has an interesting piece looking at how land-use regulation increases rents and lowers housing inventory. They found that

Over the past five years, rents in cities with the most-restrictive land use regulations grew almost three times as quickly as in cities with the least-restrictive regulations.

The chart below shows that Seattle has some of the most restrictive land-use regulations.

Some perspective on the governor’s budget vetoes

As I wrote yesterday, Gov. Inslee vetoed a provision of the supplemental 2015–17 operating budget that would have diverted funds from the public works assistance account (PWAA) in 2017–19. Consequently, the budget as signed by the governor does not balance over four years. I wanted to provide some more context today.

Gov. Inslee signs supplemental operating budget, vetoes several provisions

Today Gov. Inslee signed 2ESHB 2376 (the 2016 supplemental operating budget) and ESHB 2988 (which makes appropriations from the budget stabilization account for wildfire costs).

Can Seattle control commercial rents?

Yesterday Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a new "Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee." It will consider how the city should address "the rising cost of commercial space for small businesses." As part of that,

The importance of trade for Washington's apple industry

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released an outlook for the U.S. fresh apple industry. It illustrates how important trade is for Washington's apple growers.

Interestingly, Washington apples account for 65 percent of the nation's production, but apple acreage in Washington is only 46 percent of that of the U.S.

What good is the four-year balanced budget requirement?

Over the weekend, the Olympian editorialized against the four-year balanced budget requirement.

It’s typical that Washington’s Legislature strains to get its work done on time when there is divided government. It also strains mightily when economic downturns force cuts or tax increases. Both have been in play in recent years, accounting for a surge in special sessions.

New brief: 2016 Supplemental Operating Budget Doesn't Increase Taxes But Does Tap the Rainy Day Fund

Last week the Legislature passed a 2016 supplemental operating budget. We review the budget in a new policy brief. Briefly:

Policy Today Podcast: Session's Over, Budget Wrapup

The state legislature adjourned March 29 after lawmakers agreed on a compromise supplemental operating budget. We discuss what's in the budget, plus the ever-present issue of K-12 education funding and the McCleary case.

Policy Today podcast Washington Research Council