Perspectives on Policy


Transportation Research: Investments Will Drive Economic Growth

We asked The Boston Consulting Group to assess the economic impact of the components of transportation proposals that received the broadest support from policymakers in Washington state during the past two legislative sessions. Their analysis assesses the impact of investment in preservation and maintenance as well as six major improvement projects in key economic corridors over 12 years.  And it paints a very compelling case for investing in statewide transportation in 2015.

Key findings: A $7 billion investment to preserve and maintain state road and bridge networks and improve key economic corridors would generate $42 billion in benefits and increase state and local tax revenues by $2 billion over 30 years. It would support 184,000 jobs, save $600 million per year in business supply chain costs, support $2.5 billion in port expansion, and reduce road repair costs by $650 million per year.  Alternatively, a lack of new investment will result in significant road deterioration, millions more hours of congestion and higher costs for drivers.  The call to action is clear: Invest in the preservation and maintenance of Washington’s existing roads and bridges and make improvements in key economic corridors.

You can get download a summary of the research here or visit our policy archive for additional detail.

- October 21, 2014


Benchmarking Washington

The Everett Herald this week took a look at our recently updated Benchmarks for a Better Washington, concluding that the annual assessment of Washington should provide lawmakers with even greater motivation to focus in on two critical areas next year: education and transportation.  Here's a snippet from the Sunday editorial:

The Legislature must find an estimated $2 billion, presumably a mixture of savings and new revenue, to satisfy the state's chief mandate to fully fund education as outlined in the Supreme Court's McCleary decision.

The Legislature was unable in its 2014 session — truthfully, the Senate was unable — to pass an $8 billion transportation package that included a gas tax and motor vehicle taxes that would have funded major highway improvements and maintenance and transit projects.

Getting both done will require compromise, a willingness by Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, to give on this to get that.

Checking education and transportation off that to-do list should do a lot to start budging those benchmark numbers up and making the state more attractive to businesses that can create and keep jobs here.

We agree. Making progress on these two critical issues speaks to our overall vision of a better Washington.  One you may have seen highlighted in this new Believe in Better campaign:

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- October 17, 2017


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


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


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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