Perspectives on Policy

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Updated “Benchmarks for a Better Washington” mark state's progress against key 50-state metrics

The Washington Roundtable today released updated “Benchmarks for a Better Washington,” an evaluation of the state’s economic vitality measured against 13 key indicators.

 

“Our goal is to make Washington a top 10 state for quality of life and innovation – education, transportation and job creation – and ensure it is not among the most expensive states in which to do business.  Washington has to compete on quality and on cost. These Benchmarks measure progress and make clear where the state needs to improve,” said Steve Mullin, Washington Roundtable president. 

 

In the four years that the Roundtable has tracked the Benchmarks:

  • Washington has maintained some key competitive advantages, most notably in patent generation (a leading indicator of innovation) and commercial electricity rates (ranking 1st in the nation).
  • Washington’s economy has done well comparatively in job creation, ranking 13th among the states.
  • Washington’s education system has demonstrated signs of progress.  Washington is now a top 10 state for student achievement in math, based on the performance of 8th graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.  However, Washington still ranks among the bottom half of all states for high school graduation rates (32nd) and bachelor’s degree production per capita (38th).
  • Washington’s transportation system has continued to raise concerns, with the road condition ranking dropping to 36th and the bridge condition ranking holding at 41st. 
  • Business cost rankings have continued to be problematic, with Washington ranking among the bottom 10 states for both unemployment insurance tax rates (44th) and workers’ compensation benefits paid (50th).  

The full report of Benchmark rankings is available here
 

- October 1, 2014

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Breaking down the state budget challenge

The Washington Research Council continues to breakdown how the state budget picture is shaping up ahead of the 2015 legislative session.  Everyone knows that the legislature's efforts to address the Supreme Court's McCleary decision regarding education funding will take center stage through the 2015 session.  (The Court's decision to hold the legislature in contempt for lack of adequate action should have dispelled any lingering doubts.)  These recent posts over on the Research Council blog help to understand the multiple variables that come into play as lawmakers work to deliver a balanced budget over four years. 

- Sept. 24, 2014

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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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