Perspectives on Policy

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WA's rural roads 12th worst in the nation

From the WashACE blog, more proof that our state's roadways are deteriorating and we are overdue for a new statewide investment in roads and bridges - taking care of what we have and investing in projects in key corridors.  Without such an investment, quality of life, mobility, freight movement and commerce will suffer.  Olympia lawmakers will have a lot on their plate when the Washington State Legislature convenes in January. This is an issue that can't be ignored.

From WashACE:

"Washington state’s rural roadways are in rough shape, according to a new report from TRIP, a transportation research organization.

Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland lists Washington as 12th in the nation for percentage of rural roadways in poor condition. State business leaders have encouraged lawmakers for the past few years to make investments in the maintenance and preservation of roads, bridges and highways.  This is another example of the urgent need for action.

This isn’t just a matter of potholes. The poor condition of Washington’s rural roadways is literally a matter of life and death. The report finds that traffic crashes and fatalities on rural Washington roads are significantly higher than all other roads in the state. Non-interstate rural roads in Washington had a traffic fatality rate of 1.76 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012, more than four times worse than the rate on the state’s other roads.

The report offers more evidence that Washington needs to do a better job of maintaining its roadways, said AWB’s Mike Ennis, who was quoted in an accompanying press release."

Keep up with this an other issues important to Washington state on the WashACE blog of by subscribing to the WashACE insider.

- Aug. 28

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WA ranks most expensive in new workers' comp numbers

Just in from the Washington Research Council blog, Washington holds its spot as the most expensive state in the nation...

"The National Academy of Social Insurance released its annual report on workers’ compensation benefits. There is a data lag, so the new numbers are for 2012.

The report shows that Washington still had the highest benefits paid per covered worker in 2012, at $840.16. (Alaska follows with $797.65 and California with $783.94.) That is slightly lower than 2011, when Washington’s benefits paid per job were $855.78.

In terms of benefits paid as a percent of covered wages, Washington continues to rank third, behind West Virginia and Montana, at 1.63 percent. (In 2011, Washington’s benefits as a percent of covered wages were 1.72 percent.)

As we have noted consistently, benefits paid are the best indicator of workers’ compensation system costs for Washington."

- Aug. 27, 2014

WashACE on the road #priorities4prosperity

We're on the road in the second half of July, visiting 11 cities throughout Washington state along with our partners at the Association of Washington Business and the Washington Research Council.  We're speaking with local leaders about what's working in Washington state and what we need to develop a shared set of priorities for prosperity.  Watch the WashACE blog and Twitter feed for ongoing missives from the road and let us know what you think are the most important issues facing Washington state and how we can work together to tackle them.  Already, we're hearing ideas about school investment and reform, transportation investment, and much more.  Stay tuned

On Twitter: @washace or #priorities4prosperity

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/washace

On the blog: www.washace.com 

- July 22, 2014

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Strong majority of Washingtonians support Common Core

Nearly 70 percent of Washington residents said they support Common Core State Standards in a new statewide poll from Partnership for Learning, the education foundation of the Washington Roundtable.Support for the new learning standards was nearly identical in three regions surveyed: King County (71%), western Washington (71%) and eastern Washington (67%). Complete results are available at the Partnership's Website.

"These results mirror many national polls that show support builds for Common Core and testing the more the public and parents learn about them," said Jana Carlisle, executive director of Partnership for Learning. "The new standards are important because raising expectations for all students helps address our state's growing equity issues and helps students better compete for the quality jobs Washington has to offer."

The Common Core State Standards are being implemented in our state's 295 school districts this school year and will first be tested in spring 2015 with the new Smarter Balanced exams in grades 3-8 and 11. Visit www.ReadyWA.org and new the frequently asked questions section  to learn more.

- June 4, 2014

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Seattle Times Ed Lab tackles skills gap

The Seattle Times hits the nail on the head with coverage of our skills gap report in today's Ed Lab blog post.  From reporter Claudia Rowe...

Complaints about the dearth of students graduating from high school with adequate math and science skills have been voiced so loudly, and for so long, that they threaten to fade into background noise. But the need is real, urgent and has implications that anyone can appreciate.

Rowe outlines some key findings from our 2013 report, "Great Jobs Within Our Reach." Most notably the fact that  25,000 jobs that went unfilled in Washington state here last year — most in computer science, engineering and health care — because companies couldn’t find qualified candidates. By 2017, that gap is projected to grow to 50,000.  As Rowe writes...

The Washington Roundtable report, “Great Jobs Within Our Reach,” published last spring, was intended as a clarion call to educators and policymakers. It noted that if just 5 percent more public school graduates pursued computer science or engineering degrees, the pool of qualified employees here would increase by 3,000 annually.

On this front there are bright spots, schools taking active — and often very creative — approaches toward getting more students interested in math- and science-related subjects (commonly referred to as STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math). Education Lab found one in Eastern Washington where 100 percent of students are low-income, yet hundreds take engineering design, aerospace and biology courses.

At the same time, the school’s graduation rates have climbed above 90 percent. Curious? Stay tuned for our story in mid-June.

- June 3, 2014

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