Dishonest, negative campaign ads by Republicans in Bellevue

I got a flier in the mail today from Friends of Jared Nieuwenhuis, Friends of Steve Fricke, and Friends of Phil Yin that says “STOP THESE CANDIDATES FROM BRINGING HEROIN INTO BELLEVUE.” The candidates referred to are Karol Brown, Lynne Robinson, and Janice Zahn.

What a scare tactic! If this isn’t negative campaigning, I don’t know what is.

Karol Brown has repeatedly said (including in comments on nextdoor.com, at a half dozen candidates forums, and on her website) that she opposes bringing safe injection sites into Bellevue. The City Council has effectively banned such sites from Bellevue for the foreseeable future. Besides, it’s a medical issue and shouldn’t be politicized!

The flier makes it appear that the candidates, or people who support such sites, want to bring heroin into Bellevue. Ridiculous and not true.

KAROL OPPOSES BRINGING SUCH SITES TO BELLEVUE and has repeatedly said that!

Lynne Robinson voted against safe injection sites when the issue came up for a vote on the city council.   Janice Zahn too said she opposes them, on nextdoor.com. The headline “WRONG ON HEROIN” is hitting below the belt. It gives the impression that these candidates want to bring heroin into Bellevue.

Image of back of campaign flier by Friends of Jared Nieuwenhuis, Steve Fricks, and Phil Yin

Such dishonest politicking (swiftboating, fake news) is customary at the national level. How unfortunate that we have it locally too.

Please don’t degrade local politics in a similar way. The three females have stated they oppose safe injection sites in Bellevue. The three male candidates are playing a transparently dirty trick. Besides, there is an epidemic, and addicts are dying. The people who propose safe-injection sites in King County are trying to save lives. They’re not trying to “bring heroin.” Heroin is already here. The City Council has voted against the sites for Bellevue. Please stop exploiting this issue for political purposes.

As further evidence of the politicization of the issue: “Chris Vance, a former state Republican Party chairman, said he believes those leading the I-27 campaign sincerely believe safe-injection is bad policy. But they also see it as a way to make political gains.” https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/bellevue-bans-safe-injection-sites-for-heroin-users/

Image of back of campaign flier by Friends of Jared Nieuwenhuis, Steve Fricks, and Phil Yin

Opponents of safe injection sites passionately oppose/attack any politician who even refuses to agree to ban the sites in King County. And if the politician votes against the sites or announces their opposition, they are accused of lacking the courage of their convictions and of wanting to bring heroin into Bellevue. Heads you win, tails I lose. Meanwhile, people are dying and the homeless languish on the streets.

Wanting to leave open the possibility of safe injection sites in King County is very different from wanting to bring heroin to Bellevue, which is what the ads claimed. The fact is: people are shooting heroin every day — it’s a national crisis — and people are dying from overdoses every day. A safe injection site makes a lot of sense for the addicts who are still using. It’s not encouraging addiction, any more than condoms encourage unsafe sex. Abstinence programs do not work in either case.

Some more attack ads

This one is paid for by Friends of Steve Fricke:

And here’s an ad by the Master Builders:
Master Builders attack ad

Who's supporting the GOP Candidate in the 45th Dist. State Senate Election?

MONSANTO,
PHRMA
BP NORTH AMERICA
AMERICAN INSURANCE ASSOCIATION
WAL-MART
BNSF RAILWAY
THE BOEING COMPANY PAC
GEORGE WEYERHAEUSER
AMERICAN CHEMISTRY COUNCIL
PUGET SOUND ENERGY
PREMERA BLUE CROSS
FEDEX
MARATHON PETROLEUM
ALAN GOTTLIEB
TESORO
WELLS FARGO
MILLERCOORS
TIMOTHY M SHELDON

Source: Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.

"another $500 million regressive sales tax increase"

The Official Local Voters’ Pamphlet for the primary election in King County includes statements for and against Proposition 1, which would impose a 0.1% increase in the sales tax in order to fund arts, science and cultural enrichment programs.

The statement against Proposition 1 states, “it is unwise and inequitable to impose another $500 million regressive sales tax increase on overburdened King County taxpayers.

The interesting thing about this statement is that one of the co-authors is state Senator Dino Rossi (45th LD), a Republican who ran for governor.  Republicans are, with few exceptions, adamantly opposed to fixing our regressive tax system.  In the latest session of the legislature, they refused to agree to a capital gains tax and instead insisted on raising real estate taxes to fund education. Real estate taxes are more regressive than a capital gains tax, though not as regressive as a sales tax.

It’s disingenuous for politicians who oppose progressive taxation to use an argument about regressivity to attack a ballot initiative that increases the sales or real estate tax.

At least they acknowledge that the problem exists.

I note, by the way, that the legislature, including Republicans, voted, in 2015 to raise the regressive gas tax by 11.9 cents.   See http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article43025553.html  and Gas tax increases by 7 cents in Washington state.

Republicans raised regressive taxes

Is K-12 education fully funded? Not so fast

In 2009 I voted against an “education reform” bill that, amidst devastating cuts, promised fully-funding K-12 education by 2018. As I asked then, how could we expect future Legislatures to possess the courage of our convictions if even we didn’t possess that courage?

The 2009 bill’s promise was to avoid litigation, now known as the “McCleary case,” over K-12 funding inadequacy. The Washington state Supreme Court saw through the smokescreen and, in August 2015, began imposing a $100,000 daily contempt-of-court fine upon the Legislature for not progressing toward its self-imposed goal.

This year’s never-ending legislative process produced what Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed “a historic budget that fully funds our schools for the first time in more than 30 years.” Other Democrats echoed his exultations, labeling “Democratic” a budget borne out of a Republican Senate, a claim that ignores nine Senate Democratic no votes, and frothing in a press release that it “adds $7.3 billion to Washington schools.”

Not so fast: Education isn’t fully-funded.

The $7.3 billion figure reportedly fails to subtract billions lost from local property tax revenues. The Legislature has added by subtraction before, as it did in 2013 by shamelessly counting $295.5 million in denied K-12 cost-of-living increases toward a “$1 billion funding increase.” It’s doubtful the high court will be fooled.

 The budget also spreads new funding over four years, when truly meeting McCleary might require $5 billion more just by next year. It relies upon fickle property tax revenue and various gimmicks, like diverting $5.5 million from the litter account. It may also fail to fix a broken mental health system — where federal contempt-of-court fines have exceeded $21.5 million so far this year.

Political triumphalism is inevitable. But Carter McCleary was 7 years old when the McCleary litigation was filed. He graduated from high school last month. My son starts high school this fall. Am I wrong to feel impatient about the state meeting its constitutional “paramount duty”?

I also worry about the budget’s unsustainability. As a House member, I voted against budgets on that basis.

The 2007 budget, for example, was “balanced” by breaking a 1998 pension promise — largely for teachers. The state reacted to the Great Recession by decimating programs and denying state workers’ wage increases for eight years. It was heart-wrenching.

Washington continues to use baling wire and volatile revenue sources for budgets, and we are only ever a volatile president’s actions (perhaps tweets) away from another recession. The Washington state Supreme Court has, rightly, insisted on “dependable revenue sources” for K-12.

You can’t separate a budget from its shaky revenue foundation. So why should the public demand progressive tax reform if even Democrats claim progressive aims were “fully” achieved by regressive means? Settling for less is learned helplessness.

It happened in 2009, when I opposed cuts initially characterized as “cuts that will kill” — in a half-hearted case for new revenue — that rhetorically transformed into “cuts with a conscience.” The next year, Democratic super-majorities mustered courage and finally raised taxes upon … candy. Budget secrecy — culminating this year in voting on a budget no one had read — hardly helps make the tax reform case, either.

The public can handle honesty. While it might not serve the aims of political rhetoric, it would be honest to admit trying hard, as I know many legislators did, but falling short in key respects. The public must, again, hope for that honesty from the state Supreme Court.

Originally published at HeraldNet

Senator Reuven Carlyle explains why he voted against the McCleary deal: the entire burden is placed on the middle class

Video: Sen. Carlyle’s McCleary Floor Speech


Reuven Carlyle explaining his opposition to the McCleary deal

(Excerpts)

70% of low income people in King County are going to see a tax increase.
There is a perception that this is about taxing rich folk in the big cities [but it’s not so].

There is not one business in this state that does not win in terms of lower taxes in this deal. And the middle class is going to feel it deeply and seriously.

The entire weight, the entire obligation, the entire bill is being sent to the middle class, seniors, working folk, renters, and so many others. We have lots of people who are, effectively, house rich and cash poor because we’ve had an explosion in the past 10, 15 years of value in homes.

To put all of that burden, in a state with the most regressive tax system in the nation, all of the burden, exclusively on the middle class . We’re better than this. We could have made it fair, we could have made it equitable, and we could have made it widespread.

We haven’t closed any tax breaks of meaningful size. We haven’t done anything. We haven’t asked anyone else [other than the middle class] to contribute. Hundreds of millions of dollars in business taxes will be reduced. Hundreds of millions in this deal. And yet a retired grandma in Ballard will see 100s of dollars of increase for a home she’s lived in for 20 years.

To put that entire bill on that grandma in the middle class is just not right.

This middle class property tax increase is just too much, too high, too unfair, and too narrowly applied.

A tale of two studies: poor research leads to poor findings on minimum wage

Seattle’s economy is booming: construction everywhere, crowded streets and transit, housing costs soaring, bustling neighborhood restaurants, and a 2.6% unemployment rate. Much of this growth is driven by high wage-tech jobs and the spillover effect of all those workers eating out, shopping, and paying premium prices.

It’s in this context that Seattle instituted its higher minimum wage ordinance in 2015. In the past week, two studies have come out with very different conclusions on the impacts of those wage increases on low wage work – one says it’s positive, and the other negative. But the two studies are not created equal.

The first study, led by Michael Reich and Sylvia Allegretto based at the University of California, Berkeley, concludes that the 2015 and 2016 increases to $11 and $13 an hour had the intended effects of raising incomes for low-wage workers without having discernible impact on the number of jobs. These findings are consistent with the bulk of economic studies of minimum wage increases over the past couple of decades.

In the second, a University of Washington team concluded that the 2016 wage increase reduced the number of low-wage jobs by 9% and actually lowered the incomes of low-wage workers. This diverges from the majority of economic research. Across the U.S., city, state, and federal governments have changed minimum wages dozens of times over the past two decades. Multiple economists from across the ideological spectrum have studied these changes, and even opponents of minimum wage increases have not found impacts anywhere near the scale of the UW team.

The UW’s counter-intuitive findings underscore several methodological flaws:

  • They limit their study only to single-site establishments, because their data could not distinguish whether employees of multi-site chains – think Molly Moon’s, Mud Bay, Mod Pizza, Starbucks – actually worked inside or outside the city limits. That leaves 40% of workers excluded from their study. It also means that leaving a job at small business for a job at a larger company counts incorrectly as a job loss.
  • The UW team created a control by comparing Seattle’s employment statistics with other parts of the state. But there is no place in Washington that has a similar economy to Seattle. Seattle has an economy more like San Francisco or New York than Everett or Spokane. The Berkeley team used the more accepted methodology of generating a control from similar areas across the country, rather than just the state. Moreover, the Berkeley team compared numbers for the previous 5 years, while the UW only looked at the previous 9 months.
  • The UW study focused on jobs paying $19 an hour or less, making the assumption that fewer jobs in this bracket meant lost opportunity for workers who used to be in this pay range. But what we’re seeing in Seattle is that jobs that used to pay $18 an hour now pay $20 due to competition for employees. In the UW study, this was unaccounted for and incorrectly counted as job loss.

The quality of a study hinges on the quality of its methods. But the UW study was too myopic in its lens. It eschewed all of the hallmarks of good science – including all the data, equivalent control group, breadth of time. There’s a reason its findings go against what the vast majority of previous studies found: the UW study isn’t as academically rigorous.

If something seems too bad to be true, it probably is.

Originally published at EOIOnline

Republicans work hard to main our regressive tax system that benefits the rich

The perennial brinkmanship that the Republican State Senate engages in on the State Budget can best be seen as a concerted effort to maintain the most regressive state system in the United States. Please see the chart from Money Magazine, hardly a progressive publication. Essentially, every two years, the Republicans fight to maintain a system where the middle 60 percent of us pay four times the percentage of our income in state taxes that the top one percent pay and the poorest Washingtonians pay almost seven times the percentage of their income in state taxes that the top one percent pay.

If you earn $379,000 a year or more in Washington State, you are in the top one percent of earners (source: Economics Policy Institute) and the regressive status quo that Republicans fight so hard to maintain means you pay lower taxes. If you earn LESS than $379,000 a year, the Republican efforts to maintain the regressive tax system in Washington State mean you pay higher taxes than you should.

Let me repeat that: If you earn LESS than $379,000 a year, the Republican efforts to maintain the regressive tax system in Washington State mean you pay higher taxes than you should. Perhaps it is time that Washington voters sent Republicans and tax breaks for the One Percent at the expense of everyone else state tax system packing.

Washington State has the most regressive taxes in the U.S.

Refusal to re-balance taxes hinders schoolkids

It’s day 23 of a second special session in Olympia, since legislators couldn’t agree to a state budget before the end of the regular session. Now they have only 16 days left until the new two-year fiscal term. It will be hard to start that without a budget!

classroom

The cause for delay is a disagreement over how to increase funding for the state’s paramount duty: public education. Republicans have proposed increasing property taxes in cities; Democrats have talked about a carbon tax or a capital gains tax. Gov. Jay Inslee suggests a sales tax on goods purchased online. But none of those measure has enough support to pass.

That leaves us with the status quo — which is convenient for avoiding tough political decisions, but atrocious for our kids and schools. The state Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the state was guilty of underfunding education. Two years later, the court found the Legislature in contempt for failing to remedy this constitutional violation. And in 2015 the Court imposed a $100,000 per day fine on the Legislature for their failure to act, which now totals $67.1 million.

The Legislature has already put a plan for fully funding education into law, but they haven’t given themselves the tools to fund it. Unable — or rather, unwilling — to remedy that fundamental problem, some are now trying to pretend it no longer exists. Both parties have touted the improvements to education funding in the last few years. But it’s like having a house with a leaky roof, then patting yourself in the back for putting on a new coat of paint: the reality contrasts with the rhetoric.

In terms of quality, Washington’s K-12 schools lag behind 19 states, according to the Education Week Research Center: Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, Virginia, Illinois, North Dakota, Iowa, Delaware, and Nebraska. Part of those states’ success is their ability to maintain smaller student-teacher ratios: an average of 13 to 14 students per teacher. Washington has the seventh-worst ratio in the nation, at 19 students per teacher.

The only way to fix that is to hire more teachers. And that requires money. What would it take for our state to have class sizes like the states ahead of us? About $1.35 billion a year — but only if we could attract more teachers at current salaries!

Washington teachers are paid about 10 percent less than the national average, so we’re not attracting new talent. A beginning educator now earns only $35,700, even though the Legislature’s own technical working group recommended a starting salary of $54,000 next year. Raising teachers’ salaries to competitive levels would mean $2 billion a year in new public investments.

The Legislature is not even close to reaching those levels of funding. The core problem is that Washington state relies too much on regressive sales and property taxes, which mean poor and middle-class households pay four to seven times more of their income than those at the top. We can’t generate the revenue we need for public education with an upside-down tax system.

There are some options on the table. State law currently allows the very wealthy to accrue profit through stocks and bonds with no contribution to public good. A person pays no state tax when selling high-end financial assets. A capital gains tax — 92 percent of which would be paid by those with incomes over $600,000 a year — would generate about $700 million per year.

It’s nowhere near enough to cover the more than $3 billion we need to truly build a strong K-12 education system. But it’s a step in the right direction.

In the long run, the only realistic way we’re going to ensure educational opportunity is really a right for all children in Washington — and not a privilege for the lucky few — is with broad-based progressive tax reform that reduces taxes on low- and middle-income families, and increases them on the rich.

So far, our legislators have been loath to tax the wealthy. So we are left with this inconvenient truth: The wealthy are protected while the education of our children is undermined. The kids are not all right!

Original: Everett Herald »

What are we getting out of Boeing’s tax breaks?

As a young girl, my daughter had a fear of flying. She overcame this through a thorough study of airplanes and landed on the 737 as her preferred means of transportation in the air. So naturally, she asked for a Boeing T-shirt for a present. It says, “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going!”

So let’s talk about Boeing. You might expect that Boeing would treat Everett as the jewel in the crown of its operations. That is certainly what the Boeing management led legislators and the governor to believe when the company demanded first a $3.2 billion tax concession from the state, and then another $8.7 billion.

But what did this recent tax giveaway to Boeing get us? A loss of close to 12,000 jobs, 15% of the total Boeing workforce in our state. That means that the state gave Boeing about $138,000 for every single job they took away!

Boeing just heralded its new 787-10, built in South Carolina. This was the first Boeing jet to make its first flight outside of Puget Sound. The company is forecasting that production of the earlier 787 models may slow down. Where will the planes not be built? Well, naturally, not in Boeing’s old home of Washington. That tax money we gave them? It just finances outsourcing of jobs and investment to other states and countries.

Boeing is spending billions of dollars in South Carolina and not in our state just to stick it to the unionized workers, the machinists and the engineers, in our state. There is no other reason, financial or otherwise, to forsake decades of investment in plant and workers. Remember how all this got started: Boeing took over McDonnell Douglas in 1997, but actually the McDonnell Douglas management took over Boeing. Right away, they went looking for a new Boeing corporate headquarters, not in Seattle.

The guy who oversaw this flight from and fleecing of our state was Harry Stonecipher. He dreamed up outsourcing the 787 to Japan, Italy, South Carolina and other places, which resulted in billions of dollars of cost overruns when the quality of this outsourcing was not good enough to fly safely in the new airplane.

As Jim Albaugh, chief of Commercial Airplanes at Boeing, explained in January 2011, “We spent a lot more money in trying to recover than we ever would have spent if we’d tried to keep the key technologies closer to home.” But Stonecipher was not fired for his mismanagement of Boeing, he was fired for his mismanagement of his personal life after it came out he was having an affair with another Boeing manager.

Washington has not only given billions to Boeing in tax breaks, it has invested in workers’ education to insure a pipeline of skilled employees for Boeing. At Edmonds Community College, the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center teaches manufacturing assembly, electrical assembly, quality assurance, aerospace tooling and aerospace composites. Everett Community College has both the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing and an aviation maintenance technology program. In 2012, the Legislature established the Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing Pipeline Advisory Committee.

However, with Boeing’s job drain, we do not need a pipeline. These workers are picked off by companies in other states, with no investment by those states. Recently SPEEA, the Boeing engineers union, sent out a notice to its members about Lockheed Martin holding a Seattle job fair to hire for positions in California and Texas. So now aerospace companies are poaching Boeing workers from our state. These workers have been educated thanks to our public investments in K-12 and higher education to supply Boeing with a skilled workforce. Now Boeing does not need or want these workers.

Boeing is indeed going. There is no reason why the state of Washington must pay them to go. The Legislature should immediately close that $8.7 billion tax loophole, and put that money into education from pre-kindergarten through college. Then we would have workers ready for Washington companies, including aerospace companies, who are committed to our state. Boeing is not one of those.

Originally published a the Everett Herald