1. Here's a follow-up to yesterday's Fizz item on higher education funding which featured Republican state Sen. Andy Hill (R-45, Kirkland), the senate budget leader, giving his side credit for freezing tuition rates while his counterpart in the state house, the Democrats' finance committee chair Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne), pointed out that the only reason the legislature was able to freeze college tuition rates was because the Republicans finally got on board with the Democrats' proposal to close a telecom industry tax break worth $109 million. The legislature went in to two special sessions before the GOP would agree to close the telecom tax break which the house closed during the regular session.
Tuition more than doubled.
However, Republican senate staff pointed Fizz to a senate ways & means committee report that shows college tuition going up and up and up during the last ten years that the Democrats controlled the legislature and then, hmmmm, freezing for the first time right after the GOP took control. Tuition more than doubled, as the numbers show, between the 2002-03 academic year and then suddenly halts in 2013-14 after the GOP took over.
The Republicans also point out that the house supplemental budget last year removed the freeze.
2. Speaking of the state senate GOP, Fizz hears that they're considering taking the $290 million the state has budgeted for taking down the viaduct and shifting it over to the contingency fund to cover tunnel overruns.
We asked new Seattle Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly about the idea—what the hell's the city going to do if the state doesn't pay to take down the creaky viaduct?—and he answered the (trick) question with finely tuned political spider senses, making it clear that it wasn't an either/or situation.
When it comes to the viaduct coming down, he said, "that's a state project."
He stuck to the city's responsibilities, saying to "support the sate" the city needed to "keep focused on what the end goal is ... having a completed Alaska Way project with a completed seawall and a completed surface road. And the city is working on getting the waterfront designed."
Fizz had the news last week, though, that the planning for a major component of the city's plan to fund the waterfront makeover, $250 million for a Local Improvement District, had been "suspended."
"I would talk to Jared [Smith] about that," SDOT Director Kubly told us. (Smith, the director of Mayor Ed Murray's Office of the Waterfront, which is listed on SDOT's major projects page, is the one who told us the $250 million was in question.)
When we pressed Kubly about SDOT's ultimate responsibility for the waterfront project, Kubly said: "the Office of the Waterfront is the Office of the Waterfront, right. So, Jared is the Office of the Waterfront. SDOT provides support to that, but Jared's the guy to talk to about all things waterfront related."
As for the tunnel itself. Did Kubly have a Plan B in place? "Instead of focusing on a Plan B," Kubly told Fizz, "let's focus on making Plan A work." And how do we do that? "Everything we do is about supporting the state in getting their project done."
3. Kubly did tell us about a new SDOT division that's coming on line to help do things like make sure King County doesn't take advantage of Seattle's disproportionate support for Metro (if we pass Prop. 1 in November, we'll be preventing 280,000 hours of the planned 550,000 hours of the countywide cuts).
"We're creating a transit division. We're hiring a transit division director."
He told us: "We're creating a transit division. We're hiring a transit division director that will take the various transit functions that SDOT does which is building bus improvements—new bus pads, bus bulb outs, priority transit ... and streetcar projects. But now we're going to get in the business of buying transit service. The mayor has directed us to set up a transit division within SDOT so that we can better integrate the work we're doing internally, but ... also make sure that we're having a voice at the table when it comes to making transit policy in terms of where service is provided and what type of service is provided."
A sign of the future that SDOT is becoming a transit agency rather than a roads agency? Stay tuned. We'll have more from Kubly on SDOT's supposed "War on Cars."
4. Nearly 450 readers voted on our preschool poll pitting—as the city wanted (ironically?)—the city's own funded measure to pay for preschool slots against a separate unfunded union measure mandating higher teacher pay and training guidelines.
We say ironically because our PubliPola found that the union measure—which the unions hoped would not be considered as an either/or against the city measure in November, but on its own—won decisively: 50.8 percent to 36.78 percent.
Those numbers came in even after the union (the measure is backed by SEIU 925 and the American Federation of Teachers) complained that our poll was biased in favor of the city's version.
As we noted yesterday:
Clarification: Saying that Prop. 1 A "codif[ies] the right to affordable childcare into city law" was imprecise and potentially misleading, as Heather Weiner, spokesperson for Yes for Early Success (the campaign supporting the union measure), pointed out to us on Monday. Whether or not Prop. 1 A would create such a right is a subject of dispute; here's the actual language from the measure:
It shall be the policy of the City of Seattle that early childhood education should be affordable and that no family should have to pay more than ten percent (10%) of gross family income on early education and child care. This policy is intended to increase affordability of child care in conformance with federal and expert recommendations on affordability.
The City shall, within twelve months of the effective date of this Ordinance, adopt goals, timelines, and milestones for implementing this affordability standard. In adopting these standards, the City shall consult with stakeholders, who at a minimum must include parents, communities of color, child advocates, low income advocates, and the provider organization.
Later on in the measure:
The requirements contained in this act constitute ministerial, mandatory, and nondiscretionary duties, the performance of which can be judicially compelled in an action brought by any party with standing. Should a person be required to bring suit to enforce this ordinance, and the City is found to be in violation, the City shall be responsible for reimbursement of the costs of such enforcement action, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.