1. Environmentalists are nervous that Gov. Chris Gregoire doesn't support a budget provision passed earlier this session by the state House and Senate to end a $4 million tax break for TransAlta's Centralia coal-powered steam plant.

Gregoire is in closed door talks with TransAlta to get the company to phase out coal, and groups like the Sierra Club worry that whatever deal Gregoire comes up with in private may hinge on her keeping the tax break in play.

Gregoire is antsy about the lack of jobs bills in the budget and even though the tax break was created for a Centralia coal plant that Canadian-based TransAlta actually shut down in 2006, dinging the company's steam plant could be difficult politically.

2. We gave state House Finance Chair Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina) some good press yesterday by posting a YouTube video he made hyping all the tax loopholes—$13.6 million worth— he's planning to eliminate in this year's budget.

Morning Fizz make up call: Eastside Rep. Hunter's budget also includes a tax exemption tailored for Microsoft to build "data centers" (no telling how much it's worth yet) and a $5 million exemption for the Bellevue Arts Center.



3. PubliCola is hosting a forum about 520 on Tuesday night starring Seattle City Council Member Mike O'Brien (who wants a rapid transit-friendly design) and state Eastside suburban House Rep. Deb Eddy (D-48) (who ushered through a bill this session to begin construction on an a non-rapid transit model).

March 23 at the Del Rey in Belltown (2332, 1st Ave). Doors open at 5:30.

Erica C. Barnett moderates.

4. Traffic congestion has actually gone down in Seattle over the last decade. According to a report issued by the transportation gurus at the Texas Transportation Institute, Seattle leads the way in reducing traffic congestion. We were the only major city to reduce the number of hours drivers spend stuck in traffic between 1997 and 2007, going from around 50 hours to around 35 hours wasted. (Houston and Dallas were the worst, both adding about 20 hours to a driver's commute.)



Courtesy of the Infrastructurist.