Universal background checks, Inslee’s jobs plan and sex trafficking on ‘Leg Review’

By | February 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

On Wednesday’s “Legislative Review,” we have highlights from a debate in the House Judiciary committee over gun control. The most controversial measure would expand universal background checks to include private sales. We also cover Gov. Jay Inslee‘s press conference in which he announced a $120 million package of proposals to spur job growth around the state.

Last year, the Legislature passed a bill aimed at reducing the sex trafficking of minors. The bill, which was signed into law by former Gov. Chris Gregoire, would have required online escort sites like Backpage to verify the age of the girls depicted in ads. But Backpage sued, and the state ultimately stopped defending the law in court. On Wednesday, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles introduced a bill that would repeal the previous law, while also imposing a $5,000 fine on people who use the Internet to arrange the sex trafficking of a minor.

Senate will release its version of the budget tomorrow

By | February 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

Senate Democrats will introduce their version of the supplemental operating budget Tuesday morning at 10:30. You can watch live on TVW — and we’ll be blogging along here.

Sen. Ed Murray will unveil the budget — unlike last year, he won’t be joined by his Republican counterpart, Sen. Joe Zarelli. He will, however, be joined by fellow Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and Sens. Derek Kilmer and Jim Hargrove. In addition to unveiling the budget, they’ll discuss job creation strategies and government reform.

With just about a week and a half left of session, we’ll be watching tomorrow to see how close the Senate proposal is to the House-backed plan introduced last week.

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Senate Democrats lay out priorities for job creation

By | February 7, 2012 | 0 Comments

Senators Derek Kilmer and Jim Kastama held a press conference today to give an update on their legislative priorities, citing a number of bills that survived today’s policy cutoff deadline.

Washington state doesn’t have a jobs shortage, “we have a skills shortage,” said Sen. Kastama. He said 60,000 jobs are going unfilled because of a lack of skilled workers. One bill that Democrats say would help address that shortage is 6289, which provides training for unemployed people to become entrepreneurs. Another bill would help the spouses of military members obtain professional licenses. A handful of other bills are aimed at expanding the state’s aerospace industry.

Kastama said one of his top priorities is 5808. If an industry earns more revenue than projected, then industry groups could apply for a rebate that could be used for research and training workers. The rebates would be capped at $5 million a year.

You can watch the full half-hour press conference here.

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Rep. Larry Haler: “We have reached the breaking point”

By | January 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

In just a few minutes TVW will be on air with legislators with discussions spanning the topics of the budget, jobs, and higher education.

So far, we’ve spoken with Senators Ed Murray and Mark Schoesler about the budget and Senator Derek Kilmer about job creation.

In our discussion about higher education with Representative Larry Haler, he said “we have reached the breaking point,” regarding cuts to higher education. He said he is in talks with higher education officials and has called for a “zero percent increase” in tuition, or as close to that as is feasible, he added.

All of the interviews today will be on air at 7 p.m. as well.

Governor announces proposals to streamline B&O taxes, business licenses

By | January 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire announced a plan today that would streamline the way that small businesses pay local taxes and apply for a business license.

Under her proposal, Washington state would become the sole collector of all local and state B&O taxes, or business and occupation taxes. It would also create a single state website where businesses can obtain a business license, eliminating the 50 or so websites that are now run by individual cities.

Currently, if a business has operations in more than one city it may have to pay the B&O taxes to multiple cities  – a system that is “at its best complicated, and at its worst a nightmare,” Gregoire said. Her proposal would bring the collection of all B&O taxes under the state’s jurisdiction, much like the sales tax.

Gregoire said she is also issuing an executive order to determine if the restaurant industry has too many state and local regulations that are hindering business. ”Do we need all these inspectors? Do we give conflicting advice? We’ll find out the answers so that businesses can get on with their bottom line, ” Gregoire said.

Gregoire is also directing $1.1 million in federal funds to specific job training programs, including:

  • Training 460 veterans for a careers in manufacturing
  • Providing paid internships and professional training to at-risk, low-income youth
  • Offering on-the-job training for 300 women and minorities working in the construction and transportation sector

 

 

State jobless rate is down

By | November 17, 2011 | 0 Comments

On the heels of this morning’s not-awful revenue forecast, the state also heard the latest jobs report. The good news: The state added 4,600 jobs in October and the unemployment rate is now the lowest it’s been since March 2009.

The bad news: The rate is 9 percent. And 314,698 people are still unemployed and looking for work in the state. Of those, about 176,000 were receiving unemployment benefits and nearly 65,000 unemployed workers have gone without a job for so long that they’ve simply run out of benefits.

According to the Employment Security Department, the industries with the biggest job gains were government, wholesale trade, education and health services, and manufacturing, which includes aerospace. But jobs were lost in professional and business services, transportation, warehousing and utilities, retail trade.

To view the full report, go here.

Categories: economy, unemployment
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Unemployment rate remains steady, even as state adds more jobs

By | September 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

If you’re just looking at the state’s unemployment rate, nothing has changed: We’re still at 9.3 percent, which means nearly 310,000 people are unemployed and looking for work.

But the state has added jobs for every month of the last year. That means there are now 46,600 more jobs in the state than this time last year.

“At some point, there will be a tipping point where the constant job growth starts eroding the unemployment rate,” said Dave Wallace, acting chief economist for Employment Security.

You can read the full report here.

Categories: Budget
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Jobs are up, but unemployment rate is holding steady

By | August 17, 2011 | 0 Comments

The Employment Security Department announced this morning that, despite adding 5,700 jobs to the economy, the state’s unemployment rate has held steady at 9.3 percent.

This marks the eleventh month of job gains — but those gains haven’t been substantial enough to touch the unemployment rate.

Industries responsible for adding those 5,700 jobs include leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, retail trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities, professional and business services, financial activities, construction, and government. Meanwhile “other services” and information lost jobs.

Need help finding a job? Go to WorkSource. Want to view the full report? Go here.

Good news: 21 percent increase in job openings in Washington

By | July 19, 2010 | 0 Comments

For the first time in three years, the Employment Security Department is reporting there are 21 percent more jobs listed than six months ago.

The Washington Job Vacancy Survey is done twice a year — in the fall and spring. The spring results were just released, and show38,732 vacancies — up from 32,037 in the fall. The record high was 90,000 vacancies in 2006, ESD reports.

“This is positive news for the thousands of people in our state who are hungry to get back to work,” Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee said in a press release. She said it will take some time to get all of the hundreds of thousands of unemployed people in the state back to work, but she sees this as a positive sign.

About 44 percent of the jobs listed were in King County. Many of the jobs statewide were in healthcare. Read the entire survey here.

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The House passed the bonds bill

By | April 12, 2010 | 0 Comments

The House repassed its bill to issue bonds to weatherize schools.

Rep. Skip Priest said he’s never seen a bill he likes less. He said the bill will not create immediate jobs — it will send the bond package to voters and require a long wait. He also said he doesn’t approve of borrowing money in the form of bonds to create jobs.“It is our responsibility to pay now to help our kids rather than put the bill on them,” he said.

Rep. Scott White said passing this bill requires courage. “We are going to be levereging our dollars … 4 to one,” he said. “It will be providing 30,000 jobs in every corner of our state to a construction sector that is battling unemployment,” he said. He said this bill has courage and vision.

Rep. Richard DeBolt: “This is not the New Deal,” he said. People “are going to say, we’re still paying on that even though we had to tear down the school?”

Rep. Roger Goodman: “Our core priorities are safety, education and jobs and with this bill, we score a hat trick.”

Rep. Glenn Anderson: “The facts do not substantiate the claims made about this bill,” he said. He said the capital budget used to be the place for school construction, but they’ve de-emphasized that. Instead, he said the Legislature has emphasized low-income housing. “We no longer have capacity in the capital budget to do what it’s intended to do” so they have to create a separate bond bill. He asked lawmakers to vote no.

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House debates jobs bill to weatherize schools funded by bond

By | March 16, 2010 | 0 Comments

The House just started debate on the bill to create jobs by making schools more energy efficient. The improvements would be paid for with bonds — and the bonds would be paid for by energy savings.

The problem, as Republicans have said it: The bill would put Washington further into debt.

“We cannot afford the debt. Get off the dope,” Rep. Glenn Anderson said. He called the bill “delusional.”

Rep. Dawn Morrell said the state needs jobs — and this bill would make schools more energy efficient. She said thiis bill would do both.

“As a mother of a child with asthma, I know what it’s like to send your child to school ina building that’s 50  years old with mold,” Rep. Tina Orwall said. She said the bill will help teachers and kids have a healthier place to work.

Rep. Charles Ross: “I had a chance to go home over the weekend,” he said, and talk to people. “The public is outraged at what’s going on … people are sick and tired of big government and I think it’s telling that we’re opening the special session” by talking about a bill that’s about debt and “disguised” as a jobs bill. (more…)

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More jobs in Washington — for the first time since ’08

By | March 2, 2010 | 1 Comments

This just in from the Employment Security Department: Washington added 12,400 jobs in January — a first since Nov. 2008.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, went slightly up — from 9.2 percent in December to 9.3 percent in January. (Confused about December’s figure of 9.2 percent? It was originally reported as 9.5 percent, but was adjusted to 9.2 percent during the review process, where they survey more claims.)

Some bad news: “An estimated 359,500 people (not seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in January. More than 305,000 people received unemployment benefits from Washington state in January.”

Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a press release that the news is a positive sign. “We have implemented several strategies to create jobs, and it’s paying off. There is more we can and should do – that’s why I continue to work with leaders at both the state and federal levels to develop additional proposals that will put people to work.

Need to find work? Go here or call 877-872-5627.

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Thursday Q&A: Sens. Kastama and Holmquist on jobs, jobs, jobs

By | January 28, 2010 | 2 Comments

This week’s Q&A is all about jobs: The Governor, Senate and House Republicans, House Democrats and Senate Democrats have each introduced their own “jobs packages.” I wanted to find out: What are the philosophies behind (a couple of) them, who would benefit, and where is there common ground. I spoke with Sen. Jim Kastama, a Democrat, and Sen. Janea Holmquist, a Republican.

I always learn something in these interviews, and this week is no exception. Keep reading and you’ll find details on plans that are still in the works, including a BRAC-style government reform commission, a bill to protect Initiative 960 and more.

First, Sen. Kastama. This interview was conducted Wednesday evening in his office.

Q: There are four jobs packages. What are the crucial elements of yours?

Kastama: I think the Senate we have made it pretty clear we are continuing on the economic agenda we set last year.
We have to focus on the here and now. Sixty-five percent of the employment growth that we’re going to get coming out of this is in small business. That’s what our proposal is focused on.
First, work force. We’re going to make sure that there’s money in the budget to educate approximately 6,000 people who are unemployed and could be working in these jobs that are highly in demand. We’re going to make sure that happens.
I just had a proposal in higher education to create a dedicated funding source by converting the lottery’s purpose to higher education specifically. In other states where they have done it, it’s allowed them to market the lottery for the purpose it goes to and they sell far more tickets. In Georgia, it increased sales to $800 million and they’ve sent a million students to college with their Hope Scholarship
Our lottery, unfortunately, has flattened out. We bring in $130 million. We really can’t market it for what it goes toward, which is K-12 education because if we say it’s going to education, local school districts worry their bonds and levies won’t pass. So what they tell people is, buy a lottery ticket and you’ll get a swimming pool or a nice house. They’ll buy a lot more if they think it’s going to an altruistic purpose.
So, we’re looking at the workforce and infrastructure. We had a tax increment financing bill – a minor adjustment to the tax increment financing bill that we passed last year. For very little money — $2.6 million — you can bring thousands of jobs to Washington state.
And we want to coordinate the whole green industry in order to do weatherization better, to emphasize job growth.
Transportation: We will keep the $4 billion that we have in transportation going through the biennium. That’s a good budget item that actually does provide good paying jobs.

We also want to invest in entrepreneurship. We want to make sure that Washington state is a good place for companies to thrive and to start, so we’re putting in place many things that will help. One is that small business assistance will be able to expand services.

(more…)

Sen. Chris Marr: Transportation projects coming in way under estimate

By | January 26, 2010 | 0 Comments

I’m watching the press conference on job creation that the Senate Democrats held at lunchtime. It will be posted to TVW later today. One thing that has caught my ear: Sen. Chris Marr said construction estimates are coming in under what’s been budgeted.

And I mean significantly under. Just as an example, a week ago we found out the Snoqualmie Pass project that was originally estimated at $110 million is coming in at $76 million — $34 million will fund a lot of other projects,” he said. “So, in this environment we can fund more Tier 2 projects as well.”

Sen. Derek Kilmer talked about one of the Senate Democrats’ plan to retrain about 6,000 workers. “The challenge we have is this: If you look at the demand for worker retraining, the trend line is directly proportionate to rising unemployment. So as unemployment goes up, the demand for worker retraining goes up,” he said, which can overwhelm community and technical colleges. Edmonds Community College, for example, has a waiting list of 200 people. “Our current budget funds about 6,200 of these worker retraining slots,” he said, and the colleges “through a rather Herculean effort” are serving about 9,000. The Senate bill would fund another 6,000 slots.

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High-earners tax, big cuts and tapping the UI trust fund — Oregon’s budget deficit

By | May 18, 2009 | 0 Comments

With Washington’s 2009 Legislative session in the rearview mirror, it’s a good time to look at what neighboring states are up to.

A recent account of the Oregon Legislature from The Oregonian reads like a rerun: Gov. Ted Kulongoski is in favor of a high-earners income tax (similar to what was proposed and dropped here), minority Republicans have proposed a budget that rolls back spending levels to the previous biennium and does not raise taxes, they’re looking at merging boards, commissions and agencies … the list goes on!

Kulongoski is also eyeing the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund — but for different reasons. (Washington tapped its very healthy UI trust fund to increase unemployment benefits temporarily and permanently increase the minimum payment.) He wants to use $90 million to create about 12,000 low-wage community service jobs for the summer. Oregon’s unemployment tops 12 percent — a figure Kulongoski deemed an “emergency.”

The Oregonian quoted Kulongoski: “President Roosevelt gave hope to millions of unemployed Americans when he created the Civilian Conservation Corps and other jobs programs… We need to take the same kind of immediate action in Oregon.”

Want more information on how other states’ budgets look? Check out this interactive map at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“By June, there will be people working.”

By | February 24, 2009 | 0 Comments

I’m listening to the Transportation Project Funding press conference, where lawmakers are discussing plans for using federal stimulus money for $300 million in transportation projects around the state.

Rep. Judy Clibborn said they chose not to fund any projects on local lists. (Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said this morning that he was disappointed that none of Seattle’s projects made the list.)

“Make sure you look at the local list so that you know the full picture,” she said.

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen said the bill would act fast: “By June, there will be people working,” she said. “There won’t be many places in this state that won’t have construction projects.” In fact, she said to the audience of reporters, she was sure they’d be soon writing about the traffic in their cities and towns.

Sen. Chris Marr: “As you probably noted, I don’t have a project in here in my district,” he said. But he feels strongly about the package because they chose the transportation projects with the highest impact. “If I was writing this list as a PR exercise to get votes on the floor, it might look a little different.”

“There are a few things that we will be able to point to and say, the stimulus did this,” Clibborn said. She cited the I-90 corridor. “It is a way to say that we are committed to preserving what we have.”

Clibborn, addressing the lack of funding for Seattle projects, said no promises had been made. “There is no apology on my part for an agreement that I didn’t make… We have no local projects on (our list),” she said. “I have not been able to understand why the mayor has stood before the cameras” and said the money was taken out without his knowing, she said.

Even more “green jobs” legislation — this time from the Governor

By | January 28, 2009 | 0 Comments

This just in from Governor Chris Gregoire’s office: Tommorrow, she’ll announce a comprehensive “Green Jobs and Climate Action” package of bills.

TVW will be there — and show the press conference at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

The announcement will be at South Puget Sound Community College, in the LEED certified Natural Sciences building.

Categories: economy, Governors Office
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Tomorrow: A big finish to the first week of session

By | January 15, 2009 | 0 Comments

I’m getting ready to head home, but couldn’t help but alert you to a few things going on tomorrow:

First, the last hearings tomorrow are the 1:30 p.m. round. That means you’ll be home in time for dinner.

Second, here are some things I’ve already got my eye on:

Commerce & Labor’s 8 a.m. on the Governor’s jobs package.

Ecology and Park’s 8 a.m. on climate change.

Environment, Water & Energy’s 1:30 p.m. on the Puget Sound Partnership

Finance’s 1:30 p.m. update on the national economy

And I’ll be watching Inside Olympia, with budget-writers Rep. Kelli Linville and Sen. Joe Zarelli.

The Senate Democrats’ plan for job creation

By | January 13, 2009 | 0 Comments

I just got back from a press conference with Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and a half dozen other Democrats in the Senate. They were announcing a package of bills aimed at creating jobs across the state in high-demand areas, like healthcare and “green” jobs.

How do they plan to do it, particularly in a tough budget year? Many of the measures focus on using programs that already exist in a different way. For example: There is currently a program that helps low-income households pay their utility bills. One of the proposals would free up that money for home energy audits, which would help identify and correct energy inefficient areas throughout the home. The idea is that jobs and a long-term drop in utility payments are achieved simultaneously.

Another example, courtesy of Sen. Karen Keiser: There are currently 12,000 vacancies in healthcare-related jobs across the state. By partnering with community colleges, she said, and using some of the $4 billion of state unemployment insurance money for workforce training (Note: $4 billion, not $400 million, which was the figure cited at the press conference), more workers could be trained for those jobs — either current healthcare workers moving up the chain (LPN to RN, for example) or new workers moving into the field.

They estimated the efforts could produce 24,000 jobs, though there wasn’t an estimate on what time frame it would take to get there.

Categories: Democrats, WA Senate
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