1. Defending Congressional Republicans' (indefensible) decision to allow $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts to take effect rather than allow any new tax increases, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA, 5) told Bloomberg News today, “We need the Democrats to recognize that we have a spending problem. We need them to look at the other side of the equation and not just keep talking about raising taxes.”
However, neither McMorris Rodgers nor any other House Republicans have proposed any alternative to the cuts, popularly known as sequestration; previously, they proposed cutting programs for the poorest Americans, such as food stamps, to preserve the military.
2. In a tangible example of the results Republicans' refusal to compromise will have on the lowest-income Americans, King County is suspending its distribution of federally funded housing vouchers in light of the looming budget cuts, the AP reports. Because of the cuts, about 2,500 people every year will not receive vouchers in King County.
3. A long-shot bill mandating that employers provide paid leave for sick workers—who often come in to work with symptoms not only of colds and flu but norovirus (AKA "stomach flu"), infecting coworkers and their customers—passed out of the state house appropriations committee yesterday, The Capitol Record reports.
Why long-shot? The bill made it out of appropriations strictly on party lines, and the senate is currently run by Republicans, who oppose worker-rights bills like paid sick leave on the grounds that they hurt Washington state's economic competitiveness.
In fact, with the support of their Majority Coalition Caucus leader, Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina), they're moving in the opposite direction of the house; they've sent two bills to overturn Seattle's paid sick leave law to the rules committee.
4. Is the proper role of public transit agencies like Metro to provide service that's as geographically equitable as possible (serving all areas of the city) or to provide the most "productive" service (serving as many people as possible)? I'll have more thoughts on that when I write about KC Metro general manager Kevin Desmond's remarks at today's Transportation Choices Coalition Friday Forum, but here's what Seattle Transit Blog's Bruce Nourish, speaking about the drastically reduced service on Magnolia's Route 24, has to say:
"It’s incomprehensible to me why the managers and elected officials in charge of Metro, who cannot fail to be aware of these facts, are not willing to stare down a small amount of organized opposition to do the right thing for the larger population they serve."
The opposing argument, of course, is that city residents who are transit-dependent deserve bus service even if their neighbors don't—and even if they live in a neighborhood like Magnolia, where most people are fortunate enough to own cars.
5. This will hardly be surprising to followers of Donald Shoup, but developers provide more parking than their residents demand, and now there's an app—developed explicitly for King County—to demonstrate just how much, Capitol Hill Blog reports.
The tool, called "Right Size Parking," shows users how much parking demand there will be for multifamily developments in various parts of the county, and could potentially allow developers (and planners) to set parking requirements in a way that actually reduces housing costs (if you don't have to pay for that $40,000 parking space at your Capitol Hill condo, that's extra money in your pocket.)