1. State Sen. Ed Murray (D-43), the Democratic Senate Caucus Chair who's trying to round up the votes for the latest budget deal, reports that his Democratic Senate colleagues are getting calls from soft drink industry lobbyists "telling them they're going to be targeted in the next election" if they support the soda pop tax proposal. A .2 percent per 12 ounce increase (for $38 million) on soda pop is a key piece of the deal.
2. Standing in front of a white board on which he'd drawn sketches of the state's proposed 520 option and his alternative, Mayor Mike McGinn said, "My question is, why won't the city council stand up for light rail over 520 ... and will they stick with red-herring arguments about things that also apply to their plan?"
McGinn, who'd asked Erica into his office for a 1-on-1 yesterday afternoon to take issue with her reporting on the possibility that his wider new 520 bridge designed to accommodate light rail could conceivably be converted into an eight-lane bridge for cars, didn't dispute that eight lanes would technically be possible on a wider bridge. But, his point, he explained, is that it would also be possible to build eight lanes on the narrower bridge supported by the state and a majority of the city council. (We'll spare you the technical details, but basically, it involves making the shoulders narrower).
McGinn also said that, because the two center 520 lanes in his plan would have to separate from the main bridge structure over Foster Island, they could never be converted into general-purpose lanes—they'd have to be dedicated to bus-rapid transit or light rail.
"I think [the council is] concerned that it's not possible to do better than what's been proposed" by the state," McGinn said. "But if we don't stand together, there's a strong possibility that we're going to get a bad alternative pushed through our city."
3. The city council held a 520 public hearing of their own last night (McGinn held one the night before). A council central staffer and a consultant outlined the changes that would have to be made to accommodate light rail on the bridge. (As we've reported, the bridge would have to be heavier, include more pontoons, and possibly be ten feet wider, although that's now in dispute.)
However, most of the public comment skewed toward building McGinn's proposal, which a recent poll concluded has strong support in Seattle. The support came from two main factions—environmentalists (who support transit) and neighborhood activists (who want to reduce the footprint of the bridge in Montlake and the traffic impact on Montlake and Capitol Hill).
4. Super liberal state Rep. Brendan Williams (D-22, Olympia)—who's retiring from the state House this year out of frustration with what he believes is conservative Democratic leadership—is thinking of running against conservative state Supreme Court Justice James Johnson. (Johnson is running for a second term this year.)
Williams' liberal colleagues, like Reps. Marko Liias (D-21) and Geoff Simpson (D-47), have been pushing Williams to run on Facebook and yesterday Williams took to Facebook himself re: the State Supreme Court ... and Justice Johnson.
The Court ruled yesterday that, thanks to this year's budget crisis, the state did not have to honor an arbitration commitment to pay unionized health care employees $87 million in pay increases from last year's budget. Johnson wrote the opinion and last night, Williams' Facebook status simply quoted Justice Barabara Madesen's dissent:
"The majority actually says that even if mandamus were a suitable remedy, it would refuse to grant the writ because of the economic straits facing the State! This is a declaration of power that this branch of government does not have." —Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, in dissent, criticizing Justice Jim Johnson for ignoring law in ruling against SEIU
5. The Washington Budget & Policy Center, a lefty economic think tank, has a jarring note about the $800 million revenue package that's being hyped as the fix to this year's seemingly endless budget negotiations.
It’s important to note (as shown the graph below) that a large share of the package -- $342 million (43 percent) would only be temporary -- allowing the state to maintain priorities like education, public safety, and health care while the economy recovers. The temporary measures would expire at the end of fiscal year 2013.