Washington State Office of Farmland Preservation
One financial relief
OK, a lot of us are stressed about holiday expenses. So here's a small bit of good news. The News Tribune's John Gillie posted an update on gasoline prices, and the headline sums it up neatly: "South Sound gas prices lowest since winter of 2011." He notes a price war in the Bonney Lake with one store selling regular at $3.12.
Former Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck will announce his candidacy for mayor on Wednesday morning. The Seattle Times reported at noon, Justin Simmons, president of the Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle, went on the Facebook page People for Steinbrueck to say "in confidence" that he would be the campaign manager.
We assume that was somewhat tongue-in-cheek about confidentiality, although the posting isn't actually visible at the moment. The top item, though, is a picture of Steinbrueck meeting Sunday with ... the Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle. According to Publicola, Simmons has already written a letter Steinbrueck's supporters requesting endorsements.
Anyway, just in confidence to all you readers, the announcement, which he had telegraphed would be in December, will be at 10 a.m. under the clock in Pike Place Market. At least, that's the word we are expecting to receive in a press advisory scheduled for this afternoon.
Gregoire's final budget
Gov. Chris Gregoire this morning released her final two budgets: That is, she put forth a legally required budget that would balance the budget with absolutely no new revenues, and then she offered one with a mix of cuts and new revenues to avoid what she said would be "unacceptable consequences" in terms of lost support for poorer school districts, across-the-board cuts in higher education and an end to the State Food Assistance Program.
Her introductory letter and budget documents are all here.
The outgoing Governor's budgets elicited political reactions across the spectrum:
- Jason Mercier of the conservative Washington Policy Center called it DOA (dead on arrival), but advised remembering for future discussions her proposals to extend temporary taxes that are set to expire next year.
- The liberal Washington Budget & Policy Center applauded the idea of revenue enhancements: "Legislators and the new governor [Jay Inslee] should follow Governor Gregoire’s example and make sure that new resources are an ingredient in future budget proposals."
- The Transportation Issues Daily blog suggested transportation advocates of all stripes, including transit and bikes enthusiasts, would be disappointed that a Gregoire proposal for a wholesale excise tax on gasoline and fuel would go simply to the cost of student transportation. There's no tax increase for general transportation improvements, but the article noted that there was a lack of consensus on what should be funded.
Other departing politicans
In an article posted Monday night (before the budget), seattlepi.com columnist Joel Connelly wrote an admiring farewell to three politicians: Congressman Norm Dicks, Secretary of State Sam Reed — both of whom decided against running — and state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, the powerful (intellectually as well as politically) chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.
Haugen always had tough fights in a conservative district and Connelly's analysis of Haugen's defeat this year by Republican state Rep. Barbara Bailey, an opponent of marriage equality, is sharp:
Haugen had drawn new enemies. She came down hard on perks and privileges among Washington State Ferries workers after a spot-on KING/5 investigative series. The ferry workers' unions defected to GOP foe Barbara Bailey.
Haugen, a very traditional Christian, was moved by a January meeting with gay constituents on Whidbey Island. She cast a key vote for marriage equality.
There was a time, as Haugen has often recalled, that Republicans repeatedly went around targeting her as a "former hairdresser" who had no place in the Legislature. Hah. She finally lost, targeted for her principled stands, but she was a huge winner for the public throughout a distinguished career.
Whooping cough death
A baby, younger than 2 months old, has died of whooping cough in King County, the first fatality locally of the year, according to KPLU. The child was too young to be vaccinated. KPLU’s Keith Seinfeld notes that the whooping cough epidemic is dying down: “Protecting those young babies is one reason a booster shot is recommended for adults and older children.”
Can't anybody here drive in the snow?
With any luck, we won't have a fresh demonstration of our regional incompetence on the roads in snow over the holidays (Although, who says we're that good in rain, either?). But Seattle Weekly is having fun with snow forecasts, both real and overstated, assembling what it calls the "Top 10 YouTube Videos of Snow in Seattle."
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This story has been updated since it first appeared to clarify parts of the budget proposals.
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