1. Republicans in the state senate are dead-set against a proposal in the house that would start fixing Washington state's crumbling roads and bridges and give big cities the option of passing new taxes and fees to help preserve transit, the Columbian reports; instead, they argue that the state needs to find "savings" in its transportation budget before providing any new funding for transportation projects, repairs, and maintenance.
The legislature, remember, has spent several years vowing to pass a comprehensive transportation funding package (that's one reason King County's congestion reduction charge, a $20 vehicle license fee, only lasts until next year); but now legislators (of one party, at least) are saying they need more time, more process, before deciding what to do about the state's transportation funding crisis.
2. Also in the Columbian: A useful roundup of high-profile bills, both stalled and moving forward, under consideration this year. Among them: A bill by Sen. Don Benton (R-17) to allow motorcyclists to pass bicyclists in bike lanes; a bill by Rep. Jan Angel (R-26) to slow down local governments' transition to cleaner fleets of cars; and, of course, proposals to meet the state supreme court's mandate that the state fully fund public education.
3. I understand that it still goes with the territory of being a "political wife," but it's kind of a bummer to read that Trudi Inslee has decided to "mothball" her career as a nonprofit consultant while her husband, Gov. Jay Inslee, is in office to focus on his career instead.
The somewhat cringeworthy story includes multiple questions about cooking, the state of the first lady's nails, gardening, and whether "you make him sleep on the sofa"
The somewhat cringeworthy story by News Tribune reporter Craig Sailor includes multiple questions about cooking, the state of the first lady's nails, gardening, and whether "you make him sleep on the sofa" after he comes back from Hanford. (Former Gov. Chris Gregoire's husband Mike, naturally, was more likely to field questions about his professional aspirations and whether he felt threatened by his wife's power.)
4. KOMO has a good roundup of some of the sequestration-related cuts that will soon hit the Seattle area, including: Housing vouchers for low-income King County residents, funding for Hanford cleanup, and no more Blue Angels show at Seafair.
5. And while we're on roundups: Seattle Transit Blog has your definitive guide to all the transit- and transportation-related legislation that's still in play, including, of course, the house transportation package, as well as bills that could save Community Transit and Pierce Transit, and legislation that would allow Sound Transit to sell land at below-market rate to low-income housing developers.
STB points out something Fizz noted back in January: "Allowing" Sound Transit to sell land below market rate would effectively take money away from transit to pay for low-income housing: "A noble cause, but should transit agencies even get in the business of subsidizing housing?"
6. Another useful roundup: At the Seattle Times, Brian Rosenthal writes about this year's batch of education reform bills in Olympia—noting that, with the exception of two bills (one of them being a totally symbolic gesture that mandates A-F grades for schools themselves) the legislation on the list has been watered down and/or dropped. A bill to make student scores a key part of teacher evaluations, for example, appears to be dead.
The GOP, which hails itself as the party of education reform, is failing to impress ed reformers.
Rosenthal's point: The GOP, which hails itself as the party of education reform, is failing to impress ed reformers.
Rosenthal has an astute observation about leaving ed reform to the GOP: Part of what has doomed the agenda is that Republicans don't like government control and mandates. A major bill that has lost momentum under their purview—a bill to have the state take over failing schools.
Rosenthal gets this perfect quote from Republican ed reform Rep. Cathy Dahlquist (R-31, Enumclaw):
“Some people felt like this would be micromanaging,” said state Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, who leads the party’s education-policy efforts in the House and works closely with the Senate.
“There are some Republicans who don’t even want the Department of Education to exist,” she noted.
7. Finally, more arena drama: In Sacramento, the AP reports, Mayor Kevin Johnson said today that Seattle won't get "our team," the Kings, and cited a proposal by a fitness company owner and the owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins to buy the team and build a new stadium in downtown Sacramento, which would scuttle a half-billion-dollar plan to bring the team to a new arena in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood.