1. The city's $20 million Community Power Works program, which provides energy-efficiency upgrades to houses and commercial buildings, updated the council yesterday on its progress since last year when an underwhelming report showed it had created just 14 of the 2,000 "green jobs" it promised.
Last year's limp numbers were coincidentally in the news again yesterday when Republicans pointed to them to ridicule US Rep. Jay Inslee who unveiled his jobs plan yesterday with a focus on green "clean tech" jobs. [pullquote]So far, just 226 people have received a paycheck from the green program.[/pullquote]
The new numbers for the city's green jobs program offer more fodder for the Republicans' attack. So far, just 226 people have received a paycheck from the program, CPW program director Joshua Curtis said, and the majority of those have been part-time or contract workers, not people entering new careers.
Curtis said the next update on the program will show that another 200 folks have "gotten paychecks" working on retrofits, but those, again, are mostly short-term or part-time gigs. Initially, council member Richard Conlin said, "there was too much optimism about how easy it would be to roll this out." Curtis said the city spends between $300,000 and $400,000 a year on marketing---"a little light," he said, compared to similar programs in other cities.
2. Fizz talked to Seattle city council member Nick Licata yesterday about plans to bring the NBA back to Seattle, and potentially build a replacement for KeyArena south of CenturyLink and Safeco Fields. Licata, who successfully opposed public funding for an NBA-style Key Arena revamp if there wasn't a guaranteed city profit (the voters seconded him by passing I-91 in 2006), became briefly notorious after he told Sports Illustrated that NBA teams, like the now-departed Sonics, added nothing to the cultural and economic life of the city.
After talking a bit about the prospects for a new team (Licata thinks the odds are pretty even at this point), we asked him: What will you say if Sports Illustrated asks you the same question this time? "I'd say [NBA teams] are critical to the cultural life of the city!" he told us, laughing.
3. After his big bipartisan win on gay marriage last week, Democratic state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill) is now trying to get Republicans to vote for taxes.
Yesterday, Sen. Murray, the ways and means committee chair, proposed closing tax loopholes, including the controversial break for big banks for interest earned on first mortgage loans while also increasing some business and occupation tax rates, increasing cigarette taxes, extending the beer tax, reducing a tax break for cars purchased from auto dealers, and instituting a capital gains tax.
That money—we've asked Murray how much that would raise toward the current $1.5 billion shortfall—would stave off Gov. Chris Gregoire's cuts to education and basics like critical health care funding which she has proposed buying back by asking voters to approve a temporary half-cent sales tax increase.[pullquote]If anyone can find the votes, it's Sen. Murray. As one wowed GOP senator (who voted against the gay marriage bill) told PubliCola late last week, "He [Murray] is a real statesman."[/pullquote]
Murray also wants to ask voters for the half-penny increase, but not to buy back the basics. He says the legislature should not leave something as fundamental as K-12 funding up to the politics of a ballot campaign; rather, the voters would approve or disapprove buying back other, non-basic cuts with the half penny. Murray's proposal would also shift the temporary sales tax into a capital gains tax in 2016 to pay for education.
Murray's proposal meets both house ways and means chair Rep. Ross Hunter's (D-48, Medina) demand, and the Republicans' demand—that core government functions such as education funding not be on any list the legislature sends to the public for "buy backs." The buy back list should consider more "optional" programs such as the Disability Lifeline for the unemployed or services for undocumented immigrants, Sen. Joe Zarelli (R-18, Ridgefield), the ranking Republican on Murray's ways and means committee, told PubliCola.
Sen. Murray, though, will need a two-thirds vote to raise taxes and close loopholes and Zarelli told the AP that's not going to happen: "I would say it's highly unlikely they would muster two-thirds to do all of the above. It's solving a problem by raising a bunch of taxes."
If anyone can find the votes, though, it's Murray. As one wowed GOP senator (who voted against the gay marriage bill, which Murray sponsored) told PubliCola late last week, "He [Murray] is a real statesman."