Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The State Budget: Innovation in a Blue State

 

Everyone knows that Seattle has one of the most highly-educated workforces in the country. That partially explains why we are so stupidly progressive. And although Washington voters have a healthy awareness of the importance of properly educating our children we continue to mandate increased spending on our broken government school system. Voters aren’t very good at math. Actually, it’s not the math so much as the logic that precedes actual math. Even without knowing the exact numbers, I’m pretty sure that if we want smaller class sizes we’ll need to either hire a bunch more teachers or send busloads of our kids to Oregon. But we voted for smaller class sizes without considering how to, you know, pay for it. Now the Governor must find a way to reduce class sizes for public schools by hiring more teachers, administrators and school district staff (apparently the ‘busing to another state’ option is not under consideration). The Gov is taking heat from a court order to increase funding. What’s even harsher is the criticism from The Washington Education Association, sponsor of the initiative to reduce class sizes.

We also need a bunch of money for roads n’ stuff since we already blew the transportation budget on counterproductive passenger trains (It turns out that a certain train line in the works is going to worsen automobile and bus congestion by permanently occupying the heavily-used HOV reversible lanes on the I-90 Lake Washington floating bridge, but that’s another story).

There is enough hilarity in our state budget drama to write a comic soap opera (if only there were funds to produce it), but I’ll try to get to the point. We need cash. We’ve got a Democrat governor who cut his teeth as a State Representative, and then served as our U.S. Representative in Washington (the one back east) for over a decade. For the past two years he has been learning how to be an executive of something. He hasn’t learned much, but he does know how to effortlessly call for revenue enhancers without uttering the T-word. He is loyal to his party and, I think, obtuse enough to serve as a running mate for his party’s 2016 Presidential nominee as a token of a demographic that Democrats are losing touch with (male, white).

220px-Jay_Inslee,_Official_Portrait,_c112th_Congress

As Governor, he has new glasses that make him look smarter.

220px-Jay_Inslee_Speech_(8724201105)

Where was I? Oh yeah…We need more money, but raising taxes is unpopular. We are desperately in need of an innovative approach, and now we have one! Governor Inslee’s new revenue policy involves a cap-and-trade plan on carbon emissions.

Wait a minute. I thought that the cap-and-trade concept was developed to provide the most environmentally and economically sensible approach to controlling greenhouse gas emissions, the primary driver of global warming. I thought that the whole point was to provide economic incentives for companies to reduce emissions. I thought that it was designed to be revenue neutral.

Does this mean that congressional conservatives were correct about the true motivation behind cap-and-trade schemes being pushed a decade ago?

Was cap-and-trade always just a tool not only for government control, but for taxation too?

Well, yeah…but now it means we get cleaner air AND revenues as a side benefit. Not exactly a free lunch—more of a blue plate special. It’s a little like a cigarette tax on smokestacks. According to Governor Inslee’s new biennial budget proposal, we’re looking at $4.8 billion in cap-and-trade revenue to be provided by the state’s top 130 biggest polluters. I’d be surprised if there are even 130 smokestacks in the whole state, but I’m going to keep an eye out next time I drive past Boeing (which assembles parts fabricated in distant lands), Microsoft, Amazon, Costco, Nordstrom, Starbucks and Washington’s other prominent businesses.

In fairness, I suppose “pollution” doesn’t necessarily imply literal smokestacks. All human activity produces pollution, so those [well-connected] businesses I listed might not even be among the top 130 polluters. But who could possibly object to having the top 130 polluters (whoever they might be) participate in a non-tax that helps pay for more schools (feather in cap for Democrat politicians) and more roads (feather in cap for Republican politicians)?

There are 16 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Who says raising taxes in Washington State is unpopular? The voters of Seattle practically run the state (their votes are the most numerous), and the last time I looked, the voters of Seattle never saw a tax they didn’t like, and vote for. They would particularly love a tax increase that is supposed to hit any entity other than themselves (those 130 biggest polluters certainly aren’t living in Seattle).

    • #1
    • December 28, 2014, at 10:41 PM PST
    • Like
  2. rico Inactive
    rico

    True, Seattleites love new taxes (Seattleites also don’t mind having city employees rummaging through their trash cans and citing them for cans and newspapers that end up in the trash instead of the recycling bin)

    But most people around the state are pretty fed up with taxes, judging by how gun-shy the state legislature has become lately. Even the Dems don’t want to do much without political cover. That’s why Inslee is hoping to entice, or goad Republicans with his nod toward Rs’ unholy holy grail: highway funding.

    • #2
    • December 28, 2014, at 11:48 PM PST
    • Like
  3. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    rico

    That’s why Inslee is hoping to entice, or goad Republicans with his nod toward Rs’ unholy holy grail: highway funding.

    Props for honesty! Let’s face it; plenty on our side have a peculiar blind spot about boondoggles that involve asphalt and concrete.

    • #3
    • December 29, 2014, at 12:51 PM PST
    • Like
  4. Fritz Coolidge

    The thing that kills me is that despite Rs being outnumbered, the GOP ran excellent gubernatorial candidates the last three cycles (Rossi twice, McKenna last time). Yet, the last GOP governor left office in January, 1985. That’s 30 years of one-party (and unions’) rule. It makes me wish for some sort of economics and civics instruction as a prerequisite to voting.

    • #4
    • December 29, 2014, at 2:27 PM PST
    • Like
  5. rico Inactive
    rico

    Gary McVey:rico

    That’s why Inslee is hoping to entice, or goad Republicans with his nod toward Rs’ unholy holy grail: highway funding.

    Props for honesty! Let’s face it; plenty on our side have a peculiar blind spot about boondoggles that involve asphalt and concrete.

    It may be a boondoggle, but it’s our boondoggle.

    Everyone outside the Seattle City limits is crying out for more roads-even Dems. Don’t we deserve equal rights to the fruits of boondoggles? Most of the boondogglery today is benefitting rail planners who literally condemn homeowners’ back yards so they can run trains under their bedroom windows.

    • #5
    • December 29, 2014, at 4:07 PM PST
    • Like
  6. rico Inactive
    rico

    Fritz:The thing that kills me is that despite Rs being outnumbered, the GOP ran excellent gubernatorial candidates the last three cycles (Rossi twice, McKenna last time). Yet, the last GOP governor left office in January, 1985. That’s 30 years of one-party (and unions’) rule. It makes me wish for some sort of economics and civics instruction as a prerequisite to voting.

    So true. Although Rossi’s first run was quite literally stolen, McKenna’s was most disheartening because he is a competent guy, relatively non-political, unobjectionable and very electable… but the Puget Sound progs are simply too dominant today.

    But wait a minute. I was hoping people would comment on cap & trade taxation, or maybe Inslee’s glasses.

    • #6
    • December 29, 2014, at 4:19 PM PST
    • Like
  7. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in SeattleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It can be quite embarrassing to have a Seattle address.

    Decent glasses, by the way. That’s about the only nice thing I can say.

    • #7
    • December 29, 2014, at 5:46 PM PST
    • Like
  8. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in SeattleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I should have specified, rico, that’s the only nice thing I can say about the gasbag in the governor’s mansion. Your post is terrific: thanks for taking the time to write it.

    • #8
    • December 29, 2014, at 8:20 PM PST
    • Like
  9. rico Inactive
    rico

    Thanks SiS, glad you enjoyed it.

    • #9
    • December 29, 2014, at 9:30 PM PST
    • Like
  10. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    The first picture of your guy there looks almost photoshopped. If it looks like you’re trying too hard to smile, you are.

    I was in Tacoma a half-dozen times a couple of years ago, but I didn’t get into Seattle much. What I saw out in the sticks reminded me a lot of Vermont, just on a bigger scale: One very Progressive city, where a lot of commerce is located, and much smaller, less Progressive towns and cities in the outskirts. More trucks than SUVs away from the city – that’s usually the indicator that you’re out of ProgressiveTown.

    Vermont has kicked around that cap and trade idea for awhile, which is essentially a tax on manufacturing. Since there’s so little of it in Vermont, it wouldn’t generate much in revenues, and it has the added bonus of probably moving Vermont’s ranking as the least business-friendly state in the Union to #1, or #0 if it’s possible to be worst than worst.

    Our transportation budget has been annually raided in one way or another to shore up the budget. The same people who sponsor said raiding are the same ones who seem to talk the loudest about rebuilding our infrastructure – when elections are looming. Suddenly they’re pro-business, when they voted to move dollars from transportation to Health and Human Services, or Education, so we can continue to have one of the highest per-pupil spending rates in the country, with some of the weakest outcomes.

    Vermont’s legislature spent a lot of time in the last year looking for new things to tax; an actual committee charged with overturning rocks to find coins that might have fallen out of taxpayers’ pockets. It’s the result of Progressivism writ large, a taxation banshee screaming down the highway in an 18-wheeler, its hair on fire, avoiding potholes of its own creation, demanding eternal vengeance in the form of additional taxation.

    So I feel your pain, is what I’m saying.

    • #10
    • December 30, 2014, at 3:57 AM PST
    • Like
  11. Nick Stuart Inactive

    Given all the carbon those school kids produce, the answer is simple, bus them to Oregon, one time, one-way.

    Carbon emissions and class sizes reduced. Problem solved.

    • #11
    • December 30, 2014, at 2:33 PM PST
    • Like
  12. Jake Hunt Inactive

    Florida was in the same situation about ten years ago but we had Jeb Bush as governor. One of the ways they chose to reduce class size was to partner with a company to allow kids to be schooled at home. However, she was still considered to be in public school. The school would send out a computer, materials and lesson plan. The students would be assigned a teacher, whom they would meet with once a month for field trips (but the parents would talk to them every week by phone and interact through email almost daily) and the testing was all done online. It was amazing experience for my oldest daughter and advanced her well ahead of her peers.

    • #12
    • December 31, 2014, at 7:56 AM PST
    • Like
  13. rico Inactive
    rico

    Jake Hunt:Florida was in the same situation about ten years ago but we had Jeb Bush as governor. One of the ways they chose to reduce class size was to partner with a company to allow kids to be schooled at home. However, she was still considered to be in public school. The school would send out a computer, materials and lesson plan. The students would be assigned a teacher, whom they would meet with once a month for field trips (but the parents would talk to them every week by phone and interact through email almost daily) and the testing was all done online. It was amazing experience for my oldest daughter and advanced her well ahead of her peers.

    This reminds me of a program in my local school district, although here it was run by the district instead of an outside company. It was designed to capture potential defectors to homeschooling. The schools loved it because they retained control over the student, and therefore full state “per head” state funding, while providing educational services at a fraction of the normal cost.

    • #13
    • December 31, 2014, at 11:19 AM PST
    • Like
  14. CuriousKevmo Member

    The California budget seems to be in similar straits. Roads have gotten so bad that I rarely venture out on my motorcycle anymore and wouldn’t dream of buying a new car.

    Drove to Arizona over the holiday to visit family and was STUNNED by the quality of the roads. Those poor kids in AZ must be starved for an education.

    • #14
    • January 2, 2015, at 10:12 AM PST
    • Like
  15. Stephen Bishop Inactive

    Just some points.

    There is not right and left there is right and wrong. There are lefties and normal people.

    The consumer pays all tax. Tax is collected by the tax payer. Get the message across and thing will change.

    Class sizes do not need reducing. Get the technology in the class. Technology doesn’t join unions, it doesn’t need healthcare; if it goes sick simple get another one out of the cupboard, it doesn’t require pensions.

    Happy New Year to you all.

    • #15
    • January 3, 2015, at 12:41 AM PST
    • Like
  16. doulalady Member
    doulaladyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    When I took my kids out of school it gave me great satisfaction to know they were losing ~$45,000 per year. It was my fine to them for doing such a poor job. Now I see so many home school parents signing up for the “public-school-at-home” computer option and it saddens me. All the freedoms of homeschooling gone and all the money retained by the school system, loose, loose.

    • #16
    • January 3, 2015, at 8:35 PM PST
    • Like

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.