Morning Fizz: A Tax Preference Logic Chain
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring the Boeing tax break, your city ID card, and a Democratic gambit.
1. Were those $8.7 billion in Boeing tax breaks worth it? It's impossible to calculate the payoff yet, but in its brand-new report, the Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee (JLARC), the committee in Olympia that regularly evaluates tax breaks, did take a look at the 2003 Boeing break, the precursor to last year's controversial deal. (Last year's Boeing "tax preference" renewed the batch of breaks granted in 2003).
And Survey Says?
It's impossible to calculate.
Saying that "there is evidence that original public policy objectives" such as the continued presence of the aerospace industry and Boeing jobs with good wages and benefits "are being achieved," the JLARC report also goes on to admit: "JLARC staff do not assert whether there is a causal relationship between these outcomes and the tax preferences."
The report recommends that if the legislature wants a more helpful assessment next time, it should establish a "tax preference logic chain" and, for example, identify "a specific number or percentage increase in aerospace and support industry jobs."
Give credit to the legislature, though, for at least "specifying a new public policy objective for these preferences," as the JLARC report noted in italics—to "grow ... Washington's aerospace industry workforce," which at least gave the JLARC the ability to demand some tangible metrics in the future.
It's now up to the legislature to establish those metrics so the JLARC can give a clearer sense—in 2019 when they're due to report on last year's Boeing breaks—of whether it was worth it.
The 2003 break, which didn't start having an impact on the state budget until fiscal year 2006 has saved Boeing (and cost the state) an estimated $1.046 billion between '06 and 2013 according to state Department of Revenue estimate.
“There can be serious barriers to acquire a Washington State Identification Card for some residents," Harrell said, "and without ID, people can face challenges in accessing important services.
2. A city ID card may sound creepy, but Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell, chair of the public safety committee, is holding a hearing on the idea this week at Wednesday's committee meeting, as the latest example—think paid sick leave and the $15 minimum wage—of the city in Metro Revolution mode, leading on progressive policy where the state is failing.
In an era when state legislatures routinely float legislation to tie driver licenses to immigration status, Harrell framed the idea as a social justice issue.
“There can be serious barriers to acquire a Washington State Identification Card for some residents," Harrell said, "and without ID, people can face challenges in accessing important services. ... There is an exciting opportunity here, and if done right, a municipal ID card program could empower more Seattleites to succeed."
Harrell, who pledged to work with the ACLU and the city's Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, spelled out the advantages he sees with a city ID card in a press statement yesterday:
1. The identification card would be accepted as proof of identity by all City agencies, as well as other institutions within the City of Seattle.
2. The implementation of the municipal ID Program could gain thousands of Seattle residents easier access in obtaining library cards, furthering education, getting medical help, cashing a check, signing leases, finding employment or opening a bank account.
3. The identification card would allow many of Seattle’s most vulnerable residents such as immigrants and refugees, the elderly, the homeless and members of the transgender community better access to participating in civic life.
4. The identification card will allow members of the immigrant and refugee community to gain greater confidence and feel more comfortable when seeking assistance from law enforcement.
Isenhower is going to need more than the Democrats' standard move to make up the difference.
3. How do you know when a Democrat is nervous about their chances? When they issue press releases like the one Matt Isenhower, the Democratic hopeful in the Microsoft suburbs who's running against incumbent Republican state Sen. Andy Hill (R-45, Kirkland), sent out yesterday, about the Hobby Lobby case (in which the Supreme Court said employers could refuse to pay for some forms of birth control if they opposed them on religious grounds).
Not that Isenhower's gambit isn't legitimate (he calls on Hill, who represents Seattle's increasingly liberal Eastside suburbs, to "clarify his position on the Hobby Lobby case" and criticizes Hill for helping block the Reproductive Parity Act in the state legislature. The state senate's Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus, including Hill, blocked the RPA from getting a vote on the floor). Hill, Isenhower also points out, has endorsed and contributed to GOP U.S. house candidate Pedro Celis, who hailed the Hobby Lobby decision as a "big victory".
“Andy Hill’s endorsement and financial support of anyone who calls Hobby Lobby a ‘great victory’ is insulting to anyone who fears their boss may structure health insurance to meet their political ideology,” Isenhower said.
But Isenhower—$270,000 behind Hill in cash on hand—is going to need more than the Democrats' standard rhetoric to make up the difference.