State of State: Fund schools, hike wages
Gov. Jay Inslee says he will propose $200 million for schools this session, including a "long overdue" cost-of-living adjustment for teachers. The governor made school funding the focus of his State of the State speech Tuesday at noon, kicking off the 2014 session of the Legislature. Inslee told the audience he hadn't planned to ask for much more money for schools until a state Supreme Court ruling last Thursday forced him to re-think.
Inslee also called for an increase in the state's minimum wage, which is $9.32 per hour. Although he didn't have a firm goal in mind, he thought a hike of $1.50 to $2.50 would reward workers without harming job creation. Republicans sounded dismissive. And Rodney Tom, the leader of the Republican-dominated Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, edged toward sarcasm in his response. If the state Supreme Court justices want to come up with massive new money for schools, he said, "Let them have at it." Crosscut's John Stang will have a full report later today.
Metro Transit tax to voters?
King County Executive Dow Constantine is calling for a public vote on local taxes to protect Metro Transit from 17 percent service cuts. Lawmakers have so far been unable to agree on a transportation package that would have included new funding for Metro. The package would impose a $60 annual fee on vehicles and create a tiny countywide sales tax. Regular fares would increase by 25 cents, but low-income residents would qualify for reduced fares. Bill Lucia is working on a full story about the proposal.
Smoke in your Dreamliner
Another Boeing 787 Dreamliner battery was found smoking while it was parked on a runway in Tokyo. As The Seattle Times' Dominic Gates notes, the incident with the JAL plane occurred almost exactly a year after the earlier round of troubles started with a smoking battery on another JAL Dreamliner, parked in Boston at the time. The good news this time: The new system to control any problems with an overheating battery appears to have worked.
Seahawks: America's team at last?
A USA Today blog today did a short profile of Seahawks' backup running back Derrick Coleman, who has been deaf since the age of three. To keep up with the game, Derrick stays alert and reads lips on the field (he figures he has an advantage when a stadium is super noisy). He also uses battery-powered hearing aids, which made him the perfect subject of this Duracell commercial. Writer Nate Scott suggests it's so moving that "this settles it" for anyone looking for a team to cheer for on Sunday. Got that, San Francisco?
Amtrak change of heart in Tacoma
Amtrak is backing down on new station plans that would have torn down the main parts of an historic building in Tacoma's Dome District. The News Tribune reports that Amtrak is dropping the design (which was so bad it qualified as one of Crosscut writer Knute Berger's "Heritage Turkeys of the Year") and — imagine this — asking the public for ideas. Credit the paper's Peter Callaghan for raising early concerns about the Amtrak plans in an excellent column last month.
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