1. What is it with everything going down to the wire these days?
Eleventh hour, double-overtime budget negotiations in Olympia barely averted pink slips and a government shutdown in June.
Ditto in DC last year.
Now, less than a week to go before school is scheduled to start, Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle teachers' union are in all-day negotiating sessions trying to avert a strike.
After a second full day of talks yesterday (after the union voted to reject the District's offer on Monday), the union sent out a press release late last night announcing four "highly visible" "picket" sites around the city "to highlight the Seattle School Board’s refusal to offer a fair contract settlement."
The statement concluded: "Seattle students are scheduled to start school Sept. 4. Seattle Education Association members will meet Sept. 3 to either ratify a new contract or vote to take other action."
Here's our coverage of the talks to date, including: a primer on the issues; an interview with one of the negotiators at the table; and some video we unearthed that reveals a flip flop in the union position.
2. Hardly surprising—as one of just nine states that doesn't have an income tax—but a new study from the Tax Foundation finds that Washington state has the fourth highest sales tax in the country when you combine state and local sales taxes.
The Seattle Times has a report on the new study. And the Tax Foundation summarizes:
The five states with the highest average combined rates are Tennessee (9.44 percent), Arkansas (9.18 percent), Louisiana (8.89 percent), Washington (8.87 percent), and Oklahoma (8.72 percent).
The five states with the lowest average combined rates are Alaska (1.69 percent), Hawaii (4.35 percent), Maine (5 percent), and Wisconsin (5.43 percent), Wyoming (5.50 percent).
*Worth noting, though, we're 28th or even 36th in the nation when it comes to total tax obligation—at 9.3 percent of personal income—according to two other recent studies, which puts us on the lower side in taxes, but the top half in the dash to the bottom.
3. We ran this info in yesterday's On Other Blogs column, adding our own analysis to a TNT report on education funding. In case you missed it:
We will say this: after the Court's decision came down last year, non-partisan legislative staff crunched the numbers and recommended that to comply with the Court, the state should spend: $89.3 million more on full-day kindergarten; $141.6 million extra on school buses; $597.1 million on basic materials and operating costs; and $219 million more on elementary class-size reduction.
Here's what they ended up doing respectively: $89.8 million (check plus); $131.7 million ($10 million shy); $374 million (more than $200 million shy); and $103.6 million (more than $100 million shy.)
4. Be sure to follow PubliCola's Twitter feed this morning.
Cola reporter Shirley Qiu is covering the latest lighting round of fast food "strike poverty" strikes scheduled in Seattle today (coordinated with protests across the country) at Wendy's, Jimmy Johns, and Subway.
Here's a snapshot from the kickoff rally at Westlake this morning as the crowd watched a livestream from a fellow-protest in Missoula, Montana.