Republicans Aren’t Smart

Raising the minimum wage is very popular. So if Washington State Republicans were smart, they would join with Democrats in passing legislation that raises the state minimum wage to $12 an hour. Or if they really want to be dicks about it, they could try to negotiate the number down to $11.50, or maybe even $11, and still claim credit for increasing the minimum wage. It would boost our economy, make voters happy, and take a potent issue away from Democrats in 2016.

But Republicans won’t join with Democrats in raising the minimum wage. Because Republicans aren’t smart.

2nd Amendment Advocates Express Their 1st Amendment Right to Be Assholes

Olympia Gun Nuts

Gun rights advocates proudly flaunt their weapons during protest at the Washington State Capitol yesterday. Because they’re assholes.

To be clear, if I were to walk onto the floor of Washington State’s house or senate chambers wearing a bulletproof vest atop my jacket and tie, I would be removed for violating the dress code. But asshole gun nuts like those pictured above are free to open-carry semi-automatic weapons into the galleries above the chambers. God bless America!

UPDATE: Lt. Governor Brad Owen has announced that openly carried firearms will no longer be allowed in the senate gallery:

Owen said it didn’t make sense to allow people to openly carry firearms while banning backpacks, signs and umbrellas.

Gee, ya think?

Another Great GOP Free Speech Idea

I was not really familiar with the Ag-Gag laws that various states are enacting. In Washington, it falls to hero of freedom, Representative Joe Schmick to take up this noble cause.

“I view it as a way to protect the farmer,” Rep. Schmick was quoted as saying in the Capital Press. “You can edit anything to make it look really bad.” (Rep. Schmick has ties to ALEC and, as of 2010, was listed as a member of its national “energy, environment, and agriculture task force.”)

That is literally true of any topic. But the great thing is that if you feel that speech isn’t right or good or just, instead of appealing to the state to squash it, you can respond if you like. Or you can just ignore it. Or — and I know this is way out there — you can respond to criticism in a way that maybe improve practices so that it’s less likely you get caught doing bad things in the future. And you become better.

National Poll: 63 Percent of Americans Support a $15 Minimum Wage

A stunning new poll conducted by Hart Research Associates finds that 63 percent of respondents support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years. A less ambitious proposal to raise the minimum wage to $12.50 an hour earns an even more overwhelming 75 percent support, including support from a majority of Republicans. The poll additional finds that 82 percent of respondents support indexing the minimum wage to inflation, while 71 percent of respondents favor eliminating the federal tip credit. The survey of 1002 adults was conducted January 5-7, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

The federal minimum wage currently stands at $7.25 an hour, and at just $2.13 an hour for tipped employees.

Why Democrats aren’t flocking to this issue, I just don’t know. It’s a political no-brainer.

Walking Distance to Transit Is a Moving Target

So the apparent success of Car2Go in incentivizing members to give up their personal vehicles—about 2,000 Seattleites, according to the company’s statistics—got me thinking about a recent article I’d seen on what it really means to live and work “close” to transit.

The conventional thinking among urban planners is that few Americans are willing to walk more than a half a mile to a transit stop; after that, ridership supposedly falls off precipitously. But a new study on the impact of proximity to a light rail station on office rents in Dallas found that a quarter of the rent premium persists nearly a full mile from transit, and at least some rent premium can be detected as much as 1.85 miles away.

That’s right: Businesses are willing to pay significantly higher rents to be about a mile from a light rail station. Which clearly implies that a significant portion of their workers are willing to walk that mile. In Texas.

That doesn’t surprise me. I live about a mile from Othello Station, and Link Light Rail has become my primary means of commuting downtown to work. No traffic, no expensive parking, and rarely an unexpected delay. It’s simply much less expensive and more convenient than driving.

To be honest, the majority of days I don’t actually walk the full mile. On days I need to drop off or pick up my daughter on Mercer Island, I park just outside the restricted area around Mt. Baker Station—the closest station to the I-90 bridge. And, I admit, on many other days I drive halfway to Othello Station, due to poor time management on my part, or bad weather. (Mostly poor time management.)

But—and here’s my main observation—I already own a car. If I did not own a car, I certainly wouldn’t buy one to take me a half mile closer to the rail station. I’d just walk it. No big deal.

According to AAA, when you add everything together, the average cost of car ownership comes to $8,876 a year. Of course, you can own a car for less. I figure my car is costing me less than $5,000 a year. But that’s not nothing. And as our transportation options increase—rail, bus, Car2Go, ZipCar, taxi, and yes, even the economically predacious TNCs like Uber and Lyft—more and more Seattleites will choose to steer clear of car ownership.

And the less we own cars, the further we’ll be willing to walk to transit. Having transformed the choice between walking and driving into a choice between walking and owning a car, a one mile walk—even a mile and a half—just won’t seem all that far.

Wasting Money

I was reading this piece about the GOP opposition to passing a carbon tax or any type of actually funding a transit package.

While some Puget Sound motorists are angry about longer commute times, House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen of Snohomish said his constituents are telling him “you guys are blowing my money” on failed projects.

I was someone who was for a cheaper alternative. I was hoping that we could have a surface-transit option. But the state didn’t want that, and so the city voted to approve something different. I think it was a waste of money (although I also think given the will of Seattle voters, we still should try to press ahead as long as the state doesn’t try to force us to pay for the overruns).

But for the infinity squared time, Seattle really isn’t wasting money of Snohomish voters, or, like, Dan Kristiansen, um, personally. Snohomish County gives back about as much as it gets back from the state. And while I don’t have the district-by-district numbers, something tells me that’s more to do with Everett and the North Seattle suburbs than Snohomish. Meanwhile, King County gives about 62 cents for every dollar it gets back from the state. So, sure, there’s some waste in some state projects in Seattle, but it isn’t Seattle forcing poor ol’ Snohomish to pay.

If these GOP lawmakers were so concerned about the parts of the state “blowing my money” they would literally never complain about Seattle projects. We could probably fill the hole in with gold, and it wouldn’t be as wasteful as some counties, like, existing. To be clear, I understand the reasons that it costs the state more to provide services in rural and exurban areas, and am happy to pay for them for the most part. I just wish that their legislators wouldn’t pretend that city folks are blowing their money when we spend much more to get less.

Remember, It Isn’t “Bipartisan” Unless a Majority of Republicans Are on Board

Hey, remember all those times the Seattle Times editorial board lauded the so-called Majority Coalition Caucus—consisting of all 23 Republicans and just two turncoat Democrats—for their bipartisanship? Well, oddly, it seems that caucus math isn’t commutative:

But bipartisanship is already in short supply, just one day into the session. Moments after the two-thirds-rule vote, the minority Senate Democratic caucus engaged in their own parliamentary high jinks, getting conservative Republican state Sen. Pam Roach installed as president pro tempore, a top leadership position, over renegade Democratic state Sen. Tim Sheldon, who caucuses with the GOP.

Right. So 23 Republicans plus 2 Democrats equals bipartisanship, but 2 Republicans plus 23 Democrats equals the opposite. Weird.

Other than that, it’s not actually an awful editorial. I’m beginning to see a glimmer of hope that this revamped editorial board might even be open to endorsing new tax revenue.

The Republicans’ Greatest Orator, Pam Roach, Elected President Pro Tem of the Washington State Senate

In a hardy “fuck you” to turncoat Tim Sheldon, all 23 Democrats joined with two crazy Republicans to elect shooting-spree-waiting-to-happen Pam Roach the new President Pro Tempore of the Washington State Senate. Back in 2010, Roach was famously “physically separated” from her Republican caucus after an internal investigation found that she had repeatedly mistreated Republican staffers. In 2008 she was sanctioned by her caucus for creating an “intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.” And now she’s their president. Hooray for Democracy!

And so in honor of President Roach’s unique brand of statesmanship, I proudly repost her famous “Roses” speech:

Looks like this is shaping up to be quite a productive legislative session.

More Enthusiastic Support for Early Education from the Something-for-Nothing Crowd

It’s great to see the Seattle Times editorial board so enthusiastically on board in support of high quality early education. But honestly guys… the logical next step shouldn’t be all that difficult:

Talking about how beneficial early education can be for kids and families is easy. Finding money for it is a much bigger challenge.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Early education has emerged as a promising strategy for closing the gap between low- and high-achieving students. Educators and lawmakers, both Democratic and Republican, are increasingly pushing early education as a necessity, rather than a merely “nice to have.”

Still, early education represents less than 1 percent of the state budget. During the 2013-2015 budget cycle, the state put $163 million into the Department of Early Learning.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

During this legislative session, which began Monday, lawmakers should take a hard look at how to significantly boost participation and funding in Washington’s early education programs.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Statewide, about 41 percent of Washington’s children, ages 3 to 4, are enrolled in an early education program compared with a national average of 47 percent, according to Education Week.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

The state’s main pre-K effort is the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, known as ECEAP, that targets children ages 3 to 5 from families earning 110 percent or less than the federal poverty level. For 2014, that means an income of less than $26,235 for a family of four.

Last December, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy reported that children who participated in ECEAP scored better on standardized tests in third and fourth grade than similar children who did not attend the program.

ECEAP shows results, but participation is way too low. During the 2013-2014 school year, 48,259 children were eligible for the program, the state estimated. But the state only funded 8,741 and another 10,390 took part in Head Start, a federally-funded program.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Therefore, about 60 percent — or more than 29,000 ECEAP-eligible students — were not enrolled in either the state or federal program.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed pumping an additional $156.3 million into early education to add 6,358 slots for ECEAP as well as expanding Early Achievers, a state program that rates and trains child-care providers to provide early learning curriculum.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

The governor’s proposal recognizes the variety of ways to provide early education. Even if the state provided enough ECEAP for all eligible children, there are many other children not eligible.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Some families prefer to send their kids to child-care centers or keep them at home with relatives. The state does not have a broad, one-size-fits all solution, but it does not have to.

As long as children are receiving some form of high-quality instruction before they enter kindergarten, they are more likely to perform better in later grades.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Funding for early education pales in comparison to K-12, but that system is taking center stage in the state budget discussion.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

State lawmakers are grappling with how to fund the McCleary ruling, a state Supreme Court decision mandating the state to fully pay for basic education. They also face Initiative 1351, a voter-approved measure that limits class sizes and calls for about 25,000 more school employees. Funding both could cost at least $4 billion during the next biennium, according to lawmakers’ estimates.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Elected leaders, state and local, advocate for early learning as an investment that will make K-12 students more successful. During what promises to be a tough budget battle, lawmakers must keep in mind it is never too early for a child to succeed academically.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Seriously. It’s great to see the Seattle Times editorial board finally put its weight behind high quality early learning. Now if only they would put their weight behind raising the tax revenue necessary to pay for it (you know, the way voters just did here in Seattle), we might finally get our state’s three- and four-year-old’s the high quality preschool they deserve and need.

Is State Senator Andy Hill an Idiot, or Does He Think You Are?

State House Appropriations Committee chair Ross Hunter (D-48) is no idiot. He may not be as smart as he thinks is (hanging out in Olympia will do that to you, because his fellow electeds set such a low bar), but he’s no idiot. I’ve had numerous conversations with Hunter over the years, and there’s no question he’s smart. Often too conventional. Sometimes dead wrong. But smart.

But state Senate Ways & Means chair Andy Hill (R-45), well, I gotta wonder. Never met the guy. Never had so much as an email exchange. So it’s hard for me to judge his intelligence for myself. But what I can say is that if Hill is not an idiot, he sure thinks you are:

But Hill labels as false Hunter’s overall depiction of a budget shortfall in need of new tax revenue.

Hill says Hunter would like you to think it’s either raise taxes or make cuts. But, Hill says, “Remember, we’ve got $3 billion of new money.

Sigh. That old line again—that if the dollar figure of revenue goes up, there can’t possibly be a revenue shortfall, regardless of the rising costs of existing government services or the added costs of meeting new demands. I mean, let’s say your rent rose 7.9 percent last year (the actual average rent hike in Seattle last year), but your wages rose 2 percent. Hey: You’re revenue is up! So quit your whining!

Speaking of which:

“And Ross will say it’s all spent, but it’s all spent on optional things, like collective-bargaining agreements,” Hill added.

Yeah, “optional things.” Like paying government workers. Which, you know, is every government’s biggest cost.

To be clear, what Hill is referring to is the collective bargaining agreement struck between Governor Inslee and the Washington Federation of State Employees. State workers haven’t received a cost of living increase since 2008, a period of time over which inflation has eaten away about 10 percent of their wages. The proposed contract would give state workers a 3 percent raise in 2015, followed by a 1.8 percent raise in 2016—a two-year period over which inflation is projected to rise about 1.8 percent a year. By the end of 2016, adjusted for inflation, state workers would still be earning about 9 percent less than they did back in 2008, even with this raise.

But Hill argues that it is an “optional thing” to ever increase state worker pay again!

Sure makes the job of balancing the budget without raising taxes easy if you can freeze one of your biggest cost drivers by never giving state workers another cost-of-living increase again. Ever.

I’ve other work to do so I can’t fisk all of Hill’s idiotic arguments. But it doesn’t bode well for budget negotiations when the Senate’s budget writer is so vehemently professing such budgetary nonsense.

Open Thread 1/11

- Oh hey, the Discovery Institute are still wrong.

The threat to our way of life comes in the reaction and I’m sorry to say that it’s these critics who are facilitators in that project.

– Cathy McMorris Rodgers press release translated into English.

– I may be (totally am) a big ol’ crank, but I’m not sure a random bluegrass band would be an improvement in my commute.

#foxnewsfacts

So, welcome to Olympia. Don’t say Olympia.

HA Bible Study: Leviticus 15:19-20

Leviticus 15:19-20
When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean.

Discuss.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Hazard Above: A drone films its own demise.

Thom with The Good, The Bad, and The Very, Very Ugly.

David Pakman: Explosion outside NAACP Colorado Springs likely domestic terrorism:

Maddow: Remembering the John Ensign sex scandal.

Paris Burning:

White House: West Wing Week.

Elizabeth Warren: Wall Street is rigged.

David Pakman: “Fiscal conservative” Gov. Jan Brewer leaves AZ broke and hands out big bonuses.

Sam Seder: Michele Bachmann explains how she beat progressives.

Thom: More Good, Bad, and Very, Very Ugly.

Old McDonnell Had a Cell:

Young Turks: Staggering numbers killed in Boko Haram massacre.

A cleaner Anacostia River for Washington D.C.

Hilarious Joe Biden moments.

Thom: The secret war against Solar power.

Young Turks: Cure for cancer is in the Bible, according to Mike Huckabee.

A New Congress:

Thom: Republicans didn’t really win the Senate.

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about driving.

Lawrence O’Donnell: Let the 2016 games being.

David Pakman: Jeb Bush has new gay marriage stance after negative reaction to 1st one.

Obama’s Community College Proposal (SOTU preview):

David Pakman: Reagan or Obama—Who will have a better economic and fiscal legacy?

Chris Hayes: From David Duke to the modern GOP

What if Earth treated us like we treat Earth?

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.