January 13, 2020
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Transportation budget takes prominence, with low-carbon fuel standard also causing concern



AWB members are already lining up to testify this week as several major aspects of state transportation policy move into center stage in Olympia.

Two issues are already prominent.

The first is the state supplemental transportation budget. The House Transportation Committee was planning a hearing on the budget as early as today, as lawmakers work to backfill a nearly $500 million gap created by voter approval of the car tab rollback measure Initiative 976. AWB has several priorities in the supplemental budget:

  • Fully funding the Maintenance and Preservation account;
  • Fully funding projects of regional and statewide significance;
  • Encouraging lawmakers to adopt the transportation budget quickly;
  • Encouraging the Governor to un-pause projects that are not directly or indirectly impacted by I-976; and
  • Crediting projects that leverage funds from other partners, to minimize the risk of losing funds from other partners.

AWB is also deeply engaged on several proposals for a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS), which would add costly new refinement requirements for fuel to a lower carbon content of emissions. State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-West Seattle, has filed House Bill 1110 to implement a LCFS, which is expected to quickly move to the House floor within the first few weeks of session.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) is also proposing its own regional LCFS, estimating that its new mandate would raise the cost of gasoline by up to 57 cents per gallon by 2030 and raise the cost of diesel by up to 63 cents per gallon over the same time period.

AWB opposes a LCFS for several reasons, beyond that major cost:

  • The regulation will impose private-sector infrastructure costs of up to $2 billion in order to achieve compliance;
  • The PSCAA estimates an LCFS would reduce the Gross Regional Product (GRP) under every scenario considered;
  • In the scenario chosen, the LCFS would reduce the GRP across Washington state by $1.4 billion between its first year of implementation and 2030;
  • The only potential air quality benefit demonstrated is a reduction in particulate matter with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, which the agency plainly admits is “mainly as a result of federal vehicle standards”;
  • The agency’s economic analysis does not quantify any of the other pollutants that make up greenhouse gas emissions, nor does it offer any form of an estimate on how regional emissions would be impacted as a result of implementing a LCFS;
  • California officials estimate their LCFS has reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector by just 1.4%; and
  • California Legislative Analysis’s Office officials conclude the LCFS is the most inefficient method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and recommend the state should “amend or eliminate it” all together.

AWB Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis is the point of contact for these and other transportation issues. Contact him to learn more or to join other employers who are testifying on these issues at the Legislature.



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Effective Workforce Education

Path to apprenticeships now starts at high school

By Nate Nehring, a Snohomish County Council member

A four-year university education can be valuable for some, but many could benefit from greater access to pathways into the trades. While many college graduates now work minimum wage jobs and are burdened with student debt, high-paying trades jobs with competitive benefits sit empty.

In Snohomish County, we are working proactively to increase access to family-wage careers. Over the last two years, we have built a coalition of representatives from labor, industry and education. Community leaders from these sectors have come together to talk about how we can work together to provide meaningful solutions to the problem of a workforce shortage. What began as a group of stakeholders around a table has resulted in the creation of the Regional Apprenticeship Pathways (RAP) Program, which is being hailed as a potential statewide model for workforce development.

As a result of in-depth discussions between sectors and site tours of existing workforce development programs, the concept of a pre-apprenticeship program within the high school setting was organically produced. There currently exists several state-certified apprenticeship programs for a variety of skilled trades, from carpenters to electricians to laborers. What has been lacking is a pipeline of students with the basic skills and confidence to pursue these apprenticeship programs. The average apprentice is in his or her late 20s before beginning a program, representing an entire lost decade of post-high school productivity. As a group, our goal has been to bridge that 10-year gap...

Read the full guest column in The (Everett) Herald