1. Although funds for transportation improvements are in short supply this year, the News Tribune (subscription required) reports that a wide array of interests, from environmentalists to business groups to labor unions, is committed to coming up with a plan to pay for road maintenance, new megaprojects like the 520 bridge, transit, ferries, and other transportation projects—all without putting a measure on the November ballot.
Proposals range from a $5 billion, 10-year package, as house transportation committee chair Judy Clibborn has proposed, to as much as $20 billion over the same period, as the state labor council has requested.
2. Also at the News Tribune: Reliably cranky columnist Peter Callaghan takes on a proposal to allow corporations to buy naming rights to public buildings. Spoiler alert: He doesn't like it. Callaghan spews:
We have become comfortable with CenturyLink and Safeco fields, even letting ourselves assume that the naming rights revenue is more than a trickle overwhelmed by the tax dollars devoted to construction. We even believe the money from those commercial deals goes to taxpayers and not the team owners, either directly or to defray future obligations.
So once we are numbed by that transfer of both cash and glory from the citizens to private enterprise, it should be easy to accept paying tolls to cross the GoDaddy.Com Narrows Bridge, buying passage on the state ferry Almond Roca, watching bills become law in the Boeing Legislative Building.
Oh wait, the Chicago-based Boeing has already bought that.
3. After former Gov. Gregoire appointed Cheryl Pflug, then a dissident Republican state senator from Issaquah, to the state Growth Management Hearings Board sparking a chain of events that ended up with a Democrat in Pflug's old position (for a primer on the fireworks, start here), Republicans are bound and determined to make sure a Pflug-style appointment never happens again.
The Seattle Times reports that state Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-42) has proposed legislation that would bar governors from appointing lawmakers to salaried positions on state boards during the final year of their terms. Gregoire appointed Pflug after the filing deadline had passed, leaving the apoplectic Republicans with Brad Toft, a candidate Pflug accused of "disreputable" behavior. (Among other alleged misdeeds, Toft was accused of swinging a baseball bat at an employee's head). Pflug endorsed Democrat Mark Mullet, who went on to win.
4. In a letter filled with veiled suggestions that the state of California might drop its contracts with Microsoft, California state senate president pro tem Darrell Steinberg suggests that company president Steve Ballmer, who's part of the investment group that wants to buy the Sacramento Kings, is being ungrateful to the state of California for all it has done for Microsoft, USA Today reports.
"I am troubled that a company and a CEO that has for so long enjoyed a prosperous and beneficial working relationship with the State of California and its taxpayers would blatantly engage in activities which are clearly and measurably detrimental to our State's job and revenue base," the letter says. "I cannot stand idly by while a prominent out-of-state company that has significantly profited from business with the State of California actively attempts to acquire and remove one of my State and my region's leading private assets."