1. Protesters shut down Westlake Center three hours early on Black Friday. On the day after Thanksgiving, a "Black Lives Matter" demonstration against the grand jury decision not to indict St. Louis County police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown found common cause with "No Business as Usual" marchers.
Disrupting the biggest shopping day of the year (sales were down 11 percent nationally, by the way), the protest crowd—more than 200—got through a police barricade to disrupt the annual Christmas tree lighting and stage a "die-in" at the downtown shopping mall.
Five protesters were arrested according to the SPD over the course of the march which started at Westlake went to Capitol Hill and then back downtown.
The SPD also reports that at a demonstration on Capitol Hill the following night protesters smashed a police car window and vandalized a business on 12th in the Pike Pine corridor.
2. As state legislators get ready to deal with an estimated $4 billion budget deficit, state house finance chair Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Ballard, Queen Anne)—who has already been asking whether exemptions for big high tech companies or polluting oil companies actually deliver those promised jobs or even make sense—is now proving he's an equal opportunity skeptic.
Carlyle is looking under the hood of a $30 million tax break—Gov. Jay Inslee's proposal to extend a sales tax break for electric cars—using the progressive-friendly exemption to ask the same questions he put to Republican-friendly corporations like Microsoft about their tax breaks.
Carlyle began a Facebook post discussion on the proposal this weekend writing:
Let's have an authentic conversation: Electric vehicles rock and our nation's massive subsidy of fossil fuels does not. I even admit I dream in Tesla red, and I led the fight against the anti-Tesla bill. But the public has made it clear we are a sales tax state not an income tax state. When we eliminate the sales tax on popular consumer and business items we pay a huge price in lost revenue for public education, which is half the entire state budget, and we eliminate the negative externality of our unfair tax structure for those with political strength. To me, tax policy should be depoliticized low rates, broadly applied with few exemptions rather than high rates, narrowly applied to those without lobbyists, and many exemptions--most of which don't directly help middle class and working folks who rarely get carved out. I've asked Governor Jay Inslee for a real business plan that shows the incremental impact of sales tax elimination on electric vehicle sales. If he wants this tax break I respectfully invite him, like all others in Olympia, to propose a specific, off-setting revenue source or spending cuts to pay for it.
3. Speaking of the next legislative session, here's perhaps a preview of the upcoming debate about raising the statewide minimum wage. (Even though a Democratic proposal failed last session, speaker of the house Rep. Frank Chopp, D-43, Wallingford, has told us his goal is to pass a minimum wage bill.)
The Everett Herald ran dueling pro and con editorials yesterday—one from a volunteer with lefty labor-backed Working Washington and one from the former mayor of Mulkilteo and a small business owner.
Who can live on scarcely more than $9 an hour? A couple or individual working two of these low-wage jobs could afford the rent on a studio apartment in Snohomish County but would have little left to pay for the other necessities of life such as electricity, heat, transportation, clothing, childcare and school fees, insurance and medical co-pays. And food.
A sharp increase in the minimum wage to $15 will cause major ripple effects throughout the labor market. Workers earning this wage currently will certainly want to be paid above the $15 minimum. This will only provide incentives for our state's largest employers to seek cheaper labor markets for their manufacturing, cause major price increases for services, and likely force many small employers out of business. It is naive to believe a dramatic increase in the minimum wage will greatly improve our struggling economy. Likely, all it will do is make the price of commodities much more expensive such as lattes, restaurant meals, groceries and home goods. I wish the media would take time to ask