1. Fizz hears that Seattle Districts Now—the campaign to put a measure creating a hybrid district/at-large city council on the ballot—is within spitting distance of their goal of collecting 31,000 valid signatures.
So far, King County Elections has counted more than 27,000 valid names, with around 9,400 left to count; if the current validity rate (more than 77 percent) holds, the campaign will have more than 34,000 signatures, making it a shoo-in for the November ballot.
2. With all the talk of putting more money into K-12 eduction, a curious thing came to Fizz's attention: Gov. Inslee vetoed a piece of the K-12 budget—$250,000 to pay for the Joint Task Force on Education Funding (JTFEF).
The JTFEF is a bipartisan group of legislators tasked with outlining the plans to meet the Washington State Supreme Court's mandate that the state fully fund K-12 education.
With all the talk of putting more money into K-12 eduction, a curious thing came to Fizz's attention: Gov. Inslee vetoed a piece of the K-12 budget.
The JTFEF's initial plan, which called for phased-in spending to eventually reach an additional $4.5 billion in K-12 spending by the 2017-19 biennium on top of the $14 billion the state has been spending on average per biennium (with $1.4 billion extra in 2013-15 and $3.3 billion in 2015-17), framed this year's debate about how and when to spend more money on education.
For example, the recommendation for $1.4 billion set the negotiating goal posts (eventually making anything less than $1 billion—as the house Republicans floated—unacceptable), and put the idea of closing corporate tax loopholes on the table, which ultimately allowed the Democrats to close a telecom tax loophole and an estate tax loophole, and pass new measures creating metrics for any new tax loopholes.
Fizz has a call in to Inslee's office, which also recently hired Rep. Marcie Maxwell (R-41, Renton) away to join his Legislative Affairs and Policy Office as Senior Education Policy Adviser, for an explanation on why he scaled back the legislature's role.
One Fizz theory: The legislature is hot on the levy swap, Inslee is not.
UPDATE 1: Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith says the governor's office feels budgeting further research into school funding is "duplicative" of the work that's already been done by the JTFEF and other task forces.
UPDATE 2: State Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina), the house appropriations chair (and levy swap supporter) who put the money in the budget for the task force, acknowledges that he's "fine" with Gov. Inslee's veto because, due to the long session, it wasn't practical to convene a task force now. He says the governor's office had a good point and promised to convene people (less formally than a full on task force, but regularly) to continue mapping out the K-12 funding plan.
3. Erica will be on KUOW's Weekday this morning to talk about the top stories of the week. Tune in 94.9 at 10.
As we noted, one issue that's ticking off the environmentalists is the claim that they, as citizen groups, don't have standing.
Here's the deal.
The refineries argue, based on a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling about regulating greenhouse gas emissions, that states, in their "sovereign" position over public lands, not citizens groups, have a special status to sue the EPA and demand regulations. Additionally, the industry argues that there's no evidence to meet the court's "redressability" standard which mandates that the polluter in question is actually a big enough culprit to justify state action. (The WSPA argues that refinery pollution isn't as significant as auto emissions. Matching the annual emissions from about 1.25 million cars, the state's five oil refineries in question are responsible for about 6 million metric tons of carbon pollution.)
Meanwhile, the state argued that citizens have to sue the polluter—by showing that the refineries have violated a specific emissions standard—rather than suing the regulator (the state). Additionally, the state says citizens can directly petition the EPA with claims that the state isn't following the Federal Clean Air Act (and the EPA can decide if it's true and take action), but the citizens can't circumvent the EPA and sue the state with demands about how the state should follow the Clean Air Act.
The environmentalists' response? While the Supreme Court did say state's have special standing, they did not say citizens don'thave standing; it's just easier for state's to meet the standard.
Additionally, they argue that the Supreme Court has interpreted the clean air act to empower citizens "to serve as a backstop" when federal and or state agencies aren't doing what they said they'd do to fight pollution.
Today's Morning Fizz sponsored by Our Schools Coalition.