Morning Fizz

Morning Fizz: Historically Conversant

Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring a frantic day of executive orders, candid acknowledgments, and creaking toward a deal.

By Morning Fizz April 30, 2014

Morning Fizz

We were pressed yesterday writing about Gov. Jay Inslee's executive order on climate change and giving an honorary all-time Jolt winner to Cary Moon thanks to some candid commentary about the deep-bore tunnel from plainspoken WSDOT director Lynn Peterson. (We also had to pull Josh away from the giant NBA news about racist LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling, including NBA commissioner Adam Silver's historically conversant and touching "Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, Sweetwater Clifton, [and] the great Bill Russell [!]," shoutouts).

But other important events were unfolding, particularly the frantic, last-minute negotiations on the $15 minimum wage.    

With Mayor Ed Murray out of town in New York City meeting with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, by all accounts Murray's Income Inequality Advisory Committee was creaking toward a compromise, which could be announced as early as this week, but probably after Thursday. That's because Thursday is May Day, and Murray is reportedly focused on making sure the inevitable unofficial protests don't result in the kind of violence and property destruction that has marred May Day protests in the past while simultanesouly trying to avoid giving May Day political fodder to 15Now marchers by announcing a business-friendly compromise solution.

The delay is because the participants still can't agree on a few details—particularly how long the phase-in/phase-out period should be.  

Honestly, though, the delay is also because the participants still can't agree on a few details—particularly how long the phase-in/phase-out period should be. ("Phase-in" refers to the $15 minimum wage, which, under the latest proposal, would be phased in over several years for every size of business. "Phase-out" refers to provisions allowing small businesses and nonprofits to temporarily count tips and benefits like health care as part of the $15 minimum for several years, after which they'd have to pay a minimum of $15 without counting other types of benefits.) The debate right now is between five and seven years, with labor agitating for the shorter period.

The group, which was supposed to announce an agreement last week, is trying to avoid an initiative war, in which purist $15 supporters like council member Kshama Sawant (who encouraged supporters this weekend to collect signatures for a charter amendment that would phase in a $15 minimum over three years with no credits or exemptions) propose a lefty initiative, and reluctant business groups like OneSeattle, (which wants a training wage, "total compensation," and a long phase-in period for all businesses) propose a business-friendly initiative. 

15Now is moving forward with its initiative, on the grounds that they need to have something in their back pocket if they aren't satisfied with what the mayor's committee comes up with. (Given that Sawant has declared that the committee has "failed," we're guessing they won't be.) As for One Seattle, spokesman Alex Fryer says, "We won't have a comment on anything that isn't fully baked yet. ... At this point people are just waiting and seeing." But he doesn't rule out the possibility of an initiative, either.

The other big news we were tracking yesterday was the bipartisan McCleary committee's report to the Washington State Supreme Court on K-12 funding.

Bottom line, the report is stuck with the basic facts: the legislature put an extra $982 million, plus another $58 million, into K-12 funding in the last two legislative sessions, respectively, for a total of $1.04 billion on top of the estimated $15 billion to maintain the status quo. The McCleary mandate called for more like $1.4 billion extra. With an estimated $5 billion more to add by 2018, the legislature is offtrack.

The Democratic senate leader, state Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-34, Vashon, W. Seattle) summed it up yesterday: "I think every member of that committee would agree that the hardest work on education funding still remains. The modest investment we made in K-12 education in the 2014 budget was a good start, but it was only a start."


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