November 23, 2015
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Legislators meet for committee days, discuss budget and education

Washington state’s tax revenues will increase over the upcoming years, but costs will increase at an even faster rate. That was the upshot of the latest economic forecast issued last week, and the bottom line may be a growing gap of nearly $500 million for the 2017-19 budget between what the state expects to collect in taxes and what it is scheduled to pay out in programs and wages. The Spokesman-Review, The Seattle Times and Opportunity Washington have more on the budget projections.

The economic and revenue forecast from State Economist Steve Lerch noted that more people are working. Wages, housing starts and home sales are up. On the down side, state manufacturing orders are lower as a strong dollar hurts exports, and the global economy is facing headwinds.

The state is expected to take in $37.2 billion in taxes and fees during the current 2015-17 budget, and to spend $37.5 billion. With costs rising higher than revenues, “there will be very little room for new spending in this year's supplemental budget,” said David Schumacher, director of the Office of Financial Management.

Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to release his proposed supplemental budget in mid-December. When lawmakers return in January, they will have 60 days to approve their own version of this off-year budget update and take care of other pressing matters, from fixing charter school law to funding firefighting efforts.

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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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