Morning Fizz

Labor Groups Gear Up for Statewide Minimum Wage Campaign

Ballot initiatives for 2016 and liberals against taxes.

By Josh Feit December 28, 2015

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1. The Washington State Labor Council, the Service Employees International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers' union, and Nick Hanaeur (with help from consultant Christian Sinderman) are gearing up to run a statewide minimum wage and paid leave ballot initiative. According to a job listing that went out this weekend, the labor group is hiring a field director and field organizers.

The job listing announces: “Advocates for working families and economic justice are hiring for the signature gathering phase of a likely 2016 ballot initiative to raise Washington’s minimum wage and expand sick and safe leave for Washington workers.”

Democrats in Olympia have tried and failed two years in a row to pass minimum wage legislation; Seattle area representative Jessyn Farrell (D-46, North Seattle) sponsored the wage bill, which would have raised the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2019.

First, in 2014, the Democrats couldn’t get their own caucus lined up behind the bill.

Then, in 2015, after Democrats moved the bill out of the house 51 to 46, the GOP killed it in the senate at the committee level.

2. Speaking of ballot initiatives: There will be no grand bargain between two competing initiatives to lower carbon emissions. One initiative, Carbon Washington’s 732, has collected 350,000 signatures in a grassroots effort for a measure that would charge a carbon tax and use the revenue to lower the sales tax by one point, eliminate some B&O taxes, and generate a rebate for low-income people.

The other potential measure, backed by a long list of lefty and civil rights nonprofits and the Democratic establishment (including governor Jay Inslee) would fall along the lines of Inslee’s own (failed) carbon cap legislation and invest the money in programs to reduce carbon emissions.

Inslee’s idea polls much better—something the leaders of 732 acknowledge. Carbon Washington cofounder Yoram Bauman wrote an angst-ridden email over the holidays contemplating his group’s plans to move forward despite admitting voters appeared to be keener on making environmental investments with the carbon cash rather than using it to lower taxes.

Bauman (bolds his) noted:

…polling confirms that I-732 starts in a hole (the latest numbers are 44 percent Yes, 40 percent No, 16 percent Undecided), climbs to a peak of about 60 percent Yes after a simple explanation, and ends up after Pro and Con messages at 48 percent Yes, 47 percent No, 5 percent Undecided. These numbers are much more challenging than you might think, especially because providing voters with a “simple explanation” will be extremely challenging in the midst of a Presidential election year and would require resources well beyond the existing capacity of the campaign.

In contrast, the alternative approach is likely to start out better (57 percent Yes, 36 percent No, 7 percent Undecided), climb to a peak at or above 65 percent Yes after a simple explanation, and end up after Pro and Con messages at about 53 percent Yes, 47 percent  No, 8 percent Undecided. Supporters of the alternative approach believe that the measure can be tweaked to boost these numbers even more, but in any case it is clear that the alternative approach significantly out-polls I-732.

Bauman, a self-described “Stand-up Economist,” contributed $10,000 of his own money to the grassroots camp; overall the group raised about $700,000 for its signature campaign.

 Seattle Transit Blog has a good summary of the situation.

3. And finally: Finally!

Screen shot 2015 12 28 at 9.19.07 am hhskbd

I have been waiting for a smart editorial to challenge the left wing mantra (seen on telephone poles all over Kshama Sawant’s council district three this fall) to “tax the rich.”

While I’m all for taxing the rich, the sole focus on that revenue strategy to fund progressive policies, has always struck me as a shortsighted cave to the Reagan ideology that successfully framed taxes as pure evil.

Rather than sticking with progressive principles about a comprehensive tax system that taxes everyone according to their means, the left (Obama and Hillary Clinton included) have ceded to the Reagan line that taxes are anathema and should only be reserved as punishment for bad guys.

With charts and graphs, this morning’s New York Times points out how dishonest and irresponsible it is for liberals to cling to a policy of protecting the so-called middle class (everyone making below $250,000??) from taxes.

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