Inslee calls for higher minimum wage, more education funding in State of State address

By | January 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Raising the minimum wage, cutting taxes for small businesses and ending tax breaks to fund education were among Gov. Jay Inslee’s priorities outlined Tuesday in his first State of the State Address since he took office.

Gov. Jay Inslee delivers the state of the state address on Jan. 14, 2014.

He said that his previous plan for a “hold steady” budget has been revised in light of the the Supreme Court’s recent order for the state to quicken its pace in funding basic education.

“We need to put several billion dollars more into funding our kindergarten-through-12th grade education system,” he said. “In the coming days I will propose a plan to make an investment of about $200 million in our schools this session.”

Inslee said the proposal also will restore the teacher’s cost-of-living adjustment, which was greeted by applause from the assembled legislators and the gallery.

Inslee called for a $1.50 to $2.50 an hour raise in the state minimum wage, saying that “thousands of working moms and dads
with full-time jobs” sometimes cannot afford to put food on the table. The state’s current minimum wage is the highest in the nation at $9.32 an hour.

He also made the case for a transportation package both to legislators and to voters, who may be asked to approved a new gas tax of more than 10 cents a gallon.

“There are legacy problems the team at DOT still wrestles with, and I understand some of you are frustrated by that. You know what? So am I. But we can’t let issues on megaprojects stop us from moving forward. The 520 bridge has to be finished. We don’t gain taxpayers’ trust by building a bridge that stops before it gets to I-5.”

He urged the Senate to find 25 votes to get a package through.

“I understand this is tough, the goal cannot be for everyone to get everything they want. Instead, we must get agreement on what our state needs,” he said.

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On ‘The Impact’ — Ocean acidificiation and whooping cough

By | November 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

This week on “The Impact,” host Anita Kissee traveled to a shellfish farm to see how rising levels of acidity in the ocean are harming the state’s supply of oysters, geoducks and clams. Oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which has increased its acidity by 30 percent — making it difficult for marine species like shellfish to adapt to their changing environment.

Plus, we spoke with Secretary of Health Mary Selecky about whooping cough — and why this year’s epidemic was the worst in 70 years.

Gov. Gregoire issues executive order to address ocean acidity, protect shellfish

By | November 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed an executive order today to combat rising levels of acidity in the ocean, which scientists say is threatening the state’s supply of oysters, clams, scallops and mussels.

Washington’s $270 million shellfish industry employs 2,200 people and produces “quality seafood that’s the envy of the world,” Gregoire said at a news conference announcing the action.

“We are a major exporter of world-class shellfish. That’s because we not only offer the shellfish, but everyone knows it comes from clean water,” Gregoire said. “Washington has a lot at stake.”

Gregoire said she plans to reallocate $3.3 million from the hazardous substances tax to fund the effort. Gregoire’s office will release a 2013-15 budget proposal in December, and it will serve as a blueprint for Gov.-elect Jay Inslee.

Gregoire said she recently met with Inslee for several hours and discussed climate change. “I have no doubt he will take the next steps forward,” she said.

The governor appointed more than two dozen elected officials, scientists and policy experts to a Blue Ribbon Panel earlier this year to find ways to protect the state’s shellfish.

Bill Ruckelshaus, a member of the panel, said at today’s event that the ocean absorbs one-quarter of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As a result, the acidity in the ocean has increased by 30 percent — making it difficult for marine species like shellfish to adapt to their changing environment.

“We always thought the ocean was our friend,” Ruckelshaus said. “We now find the ocean is paying a penalty for being our friend.”

The panel released a report with 42 recommended actions, including slowing the pace of ocean acidification by reducing carbon dioxide in the state and providing national leadership on the issue. You can read the full report here.

The executive order directs the state Department of Ecology and other state agencies implement the recommendations of the panel.

Watch the full event below:

Republican Reps.: Stop DOE from implementing climate change restrictions

By | June 30, 2010 | 0 Comments

Reps. Shelly Short, Dan Kristiansen, Joel Kretz and David Taylor — Republican members of the House Ecology and Parks Committee — sent a letter to the State Department of Ecology asking it to stop drafting rules regarding greenhouse gas emissions.

The group is “concerned that over-reaching climate change rules could have a devastating effect on Washington’s stagnant economic recovery,” according to their statement. They said in the letter that Washington produces such a small fraction — 3/10ths of a percent — of greenhouse gas emissions, that it’s “statistically improbable” that implementing new rules here would have an effect.

“When government regulations begin to harm our economic recovery; and when they destroy jobs and make it harder for people to find work, we absolutely need to stop what we’re doing, take a step back and re-evaluate.  That’s what we’re asking DOE to do,” Kristiansen said in a statement.

And Kretz said he doubted that DOE has the authority to implement the rules. The group also noted that climate change efforts had failed in the Legislature, and that it may be best left to the federal government to set climate policy.

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Climate change accountability. Tune in now.

By | January 29, 2010 | 0 Comments

House Bill 2772 would “require state contractors to meet performance standards for cost per ton of dioxide equivalent.” What does that mean?

Rep. Bill Hinkle: “If you remember, when we were discussing some cap and trade issues … last year, my first comment was, We’re about to enter into a public policy issue that set goals” and standards that don’t accomplish what they set out to accomplish, he said. “I guess, in the end, I’m just trying to bring forward something that will actually give some accountability to the efforts that we’re making in the state.”

The bill would require that before any carbon reduction project is undertaken, the state make some calculations: First, how much would the project cost? Second, how many tons of CO2 would the project reduce? Third: What’s the cost per CO2 unit reduction.

“Then you can make decisions about where you want to put money in the future,” said Todd Myers with the Washington Policy Center. He said right now, “it’s very unclear to us whether we’re getting the return on the investment we’re making.”

Myers said his organization has found that some “green” schools haven’t saved school districts any money — in fact, they may be less energy efficient, he said.

To that, Rep. Hans Dunshee told his fellow lawmakers to “get real numbers” from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. He said, unlike the policy center, OSPI doesn’t have a bias.

Watch now on TVW. I’ll update as this hearing goes along.

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Up next week on TVW: Gambling, health care and climate change

By | June 26, 2009 | 0 Comments

Have a great weekend — and get ready to come back Monday for a big (though short) week:

On Monday at 10 a.m., we’ll be live with the Joint Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. They’ll hold a hearing on an amendment to the gaming compact between the Tulalip Indian Tribe and the state. First, they’ll review the 2009 legislation on gambling, then they’ll review card room regulations, hear an update on “problem gambling services” and another update on federal legislation on Internet gambling.

Also on Monday is ah earing on climate change. We’ll air it Wednesday at 7 p.m. On the agenda:

1. Overview of the Governor’s Executive Order 09-05 on climate change.
2. Overview of possible federal executive and legislative actions regarding climate change.
3. Review of current policies on solid waste and recycling.
4. Discussion with the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee (JLARC) and the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) regarding the JLARC briefing report on the PSP.

And Tuesday is a big day: At 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. we’ll have the Supreme Court live — these are the last of their spring docket, and then they’re back in September.

Also Tuesday: U.S. Sen. Cantwell’s health care forum in Seattle with Gov. Gregoire and a panel of health experts from all sides. We’ll televise in on Thursday.

On The Impact tonight: Climate change and federal stimulus

By | May 27, 2009 | 0 Comments

Jennifer Huntley, host of The Impact, sent this in about tonight’s show:

Three to four billion dollars of the federal stimulus money is being used in Washington state for Medicaid, K-12 education, higher education, and corrections. We’ll find out more about how the state is spending its share of the money. Joining us will be the Governor’s Chief of Staff Cindy Zehnder and Jill Satran, the Governor’s Executive Policy Advisor in charge of the federal stimulus.

Also, Gov. Chris Gregoire issued an executive order on climate change this past week. It directs the Department of Ecology to work with industries to cut emissions by 2020. Ecology Director Jay Manning says Washington state must lead on this issue so that the rest of the world will follow. We’ll find out more about what is in the order and how the Department of Ecology plans to carry it out.

Watch The Impact, tonight at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on TVW or anytime online at tvw.org.

Some reaction to Gregoire’s executive order on greenhouse gas emissions

By | May 21, 2009 | 0 Comments

The Association of Washington Business sent out some reaction to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s testimony before the Environmental Protection Agency this morning. Their take?

AWB has long advocated that a federal approach to climate change policy is much preferred over a state-by-state patchwork of conflicting policies that puts Washington state businesses at a competitive disadvantage with other states,” said Grant Nelson, AWB governmental affairs director on climate change issues. “The proposed changes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions would create higher operational costs for industries, higher costs for goods and services for consumers and threatens the availability of good family-wage jobs.

“While AWB prefers a federal approach, we believe that Congress, not EPA should enact a national approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Congress is better positioned than EPA in representing the interests of citizens nationwide, guarding against further harm to our already fragile economy and job loss,” he said.

And Rep. Shelly Short sent out a response to Gregoire’s executive order to reduce greenhouse gases:

I would have preferred her to allow the legislative process take its course so that an agreement could be reached within the structure of the Legislature. Regardless, I, and my House Republican colleagues, will continue to work with her to ensure that climate change policies take into account our families, our jobs and our state’s economy.”