Morning Fizz

GOP Budget Doesn't Only Ignore Supreme Court, It Cuts It

Caffeinated news featuring the state budget and city candidates

By Josh Feit April 9, 2015

Caffeinated News

1. File this under insult to injury?

The Republican budget proposal doesn't merely thumb its nose at the Washington State Supreme Court's McCleary mandate to fully fund K–12 education by budgeting instead with gimmicks and harsh cuts elsewhere—cutting $14 million from mental health treatment programs that serve low-income people who don't qualify for Medicaid, for example. (The link, by the way, takes you to some eagle-eye budget analysis by the lefty and mathy Washington Budget and Policy Center.)

The GOP proposal also takes an electric saw to the Supreme Court's budget itself, slashing $928,000 in cuts to salaries, travel, and indigent defense, among other costs. The Democrats add $72,000 to pay while leaving the rest of the Supreme Court budget intact.

Seattle Democratic state senator Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill) proposed a budget amendment to restore the Supreme Court line items, but the majority Republicans voted it down.

2. Speaking of cuts to key government functions: The Republican budget proposal also goes after the committee that evaluates tax breaks (minus $6,500 there) and more significantly, it cuts the Public Disclosure Commission, the agency that tracks and discloses campaign contributions and expenditures and investigates violations. The Republicans cut $163,000 from the PDC, including eliminating its general counsel and zapping data functions. The Democrats add $607,000 including $583,000 to upgrade lobbyist reporting.

The Republican budget proposal also goes after the Public Disclosure Commission.

On that note, check out yesterday's (transparently bitter) resignation letter from PDC executive director Andrea Doyle, who is stepping down after three and a half years on the job.

I am proud of my efforts to guide the agency through a prolonged and difficult period of downsizing. Together with a strong, committed commission and a small but dedicated staff, we have addressed myriad challenges posed by antiquated technology, continuous growth in campaign spending and the related increase in complaints about illegal campaign activity, repeated attacks on the fundamental principles underpinning our state’s award-winning disclosure system, and the understandable frustration of the voting public whose trust and confidence in the political process is being tested on many levels. As a result of our work over the past three and a half years, the agency is now well positioned to make meaningful progress when additional resources become available to support the commission's urgent technology needs.

3. I sat down with local indie-rock star John Roderick (the Long Winters) on Monday afternoon after he announced he was running for city council; the council is moving to a mostly districted system this year, with seven districts and two citywide seats.

The tunnel is probably just going to be a skateboard park or a grow house for hydroponic pods.

Forty-plus candidates are running—piling on in the district races. But Roderick is running in the high-profile at-large spot against incumbent city council member Tim Burgess, who Roderick said, cordially, was a smart liberal guy, but was too conservative on social justice issues. The two other main candidates in the race are longshoreman labor activist John Persak and lefty affordable housing advocate and Tenants Union leader Jonathan Grant. (Roderick dismissed rent control, one of Grant's central planks, as an ineffective policy to address the affordable housing crisis.)

Roderick—a bit of a coffee shop intellectual who countered my standard "but where do you get the money to pay for it" questions by saying I was relying on "a flawed dialectic"—can swerve into ponderous stuff about church-based culture from the 1500s. But he's well spoken on today's metropolitan revolution agenda, running as a pro-density urbanist whose initial policy planks are inner-city transit and universal broadband (he wants the city to make the Internet a public utility).

Roderick differentiated himself from Dave Meinert—the high-profile nightlife industry advocate who presumably represents the same music/culture city politics flank (read white 1990s alterna culture)—by saying Meinert's POV comes from making money off music while Roderick's POV comes from making music. More importantly, I asked him about the $15 minimum wage law, something Meinert has been critical of.

Roderick said if he had been a council member he would have definitely voted for it, but added, "It's an experiment." Eventually, he said, we'll have to look at the data to see if it's working. That could mean scaling it back or "maybe raising it to $18."

Roderick also had the funniest critique of the tunnel I've ever heard. He seemed resigned that it was going to get built. Calling it a waste of money (because it caters to pro-sprawl planning instead of pro-city planning), he said 10 years from now, it was probably just going to be a skateboard park or a grow house for hydroponic pods.

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