November 23, 2015
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Wireless customers saw record high taxes and fees in 2015

Washington can claim another dubious record. Our state has the nation’s highest rate of wireless taxes and fees, according to the Tax Foundation’s latest annual report. More than 25 percent of the average Washington wireless bill is a federal, state or local fee or tax.

That’s well ahead of the national average of nearly 18 percent – which itself is almost two and a half times higher than the general sales tax rate imposed on most other taxable goods and services, according to a report released last week by the Tax Foundation.

Wireless customers in America pay about $5.8 billion in excessive state and local taxes and fees each year. That burden falls especially heavily on the poor, who are the group most likely to have only a wireless phone.

The best news in the report is for our southern neighbor. Oregon has the most affordable wireless fees in the nation, with just over 8 percent of the average bill.

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Jobs and Redevelopment in Longview

Millennium: Local coal terminal will enhance region

By Bill Chapman

Millennium sits on a former industrial site that, for generations, has been designated, zoned and used for heavy industry. Since taking over in 2011, we've removed over a quarter-million tons of unpermitted material from the site (recycling about 65 percent), restored a local fish habitat, and kept dozens of our neighbors employed along the way. The river channel is already deepened to allow ocean-going transport, and the rail spur has long been in place.

For millions of people in developing nations, coal remains the main viable source of electricity. Some homes are lit by a single light bulb -- this is a "quality of life" we would never accept. There will not be enough power from renewable energy to meet basic needs in Asia for decades. These countries continue burning coal because it is the most available energy source they have, and because it allows them to pursue a quality of life we already enjoy.

We know that quality of life matters here in Southwest Washington, too. Without jobs to support families, "quality of life" quickly evaporates. Longview is a town built for industry and trade; the failure to regenerate family-wage jobs profoundly threatens our quality of life.
Click here to read the full op-ed in The Columbian
Charter Fix Has Bipartisan Support

Legislature must act on charter schools

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

Lawmakers should act in the best interest of children and families who have embraced charter schools. In their first year of operation, many of the state's charter schools have enrolled high levels of low-income, minority and special-education students -- children who have not all been well-served by traditional schools and whose families cannot afford private school.

Click here to read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
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