The Roundtable works to effect positive change on public policy issues that are most important to supporting state economic vitality and fostering opportunity for all Washingtonians. That work includes sharing news and analyzing policy developments affecting our state.

PSBJ Editorial: Fix Transportation, Taxes, Education

Last week, Opportunity Washington released a new Opportunity Scorecard, using updated data to score all 50 states on their performance in education quality and outcomes, transportation and infrastructure, and economic vitality.

The Winter Scorecard revealed Washington state dropped four spots compared to the Fall 2015 edition, due in part to a decrease in 8th grade math achievement (as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress), a fall in performance on business tax measures,  and an increase in the average statewide commute time.

The Puget Sound Business Journal cited the Scorecard data in a recent editorial, “Fix Transportation, Taxes, Education”:

New data from Opportunity Washington – a coalition of economic development groups – finds that the state is downright mediocre in the areas of education, transportation, infrastructure and tax burden, which includes spending on research and development.

The piece went on to highlight some of the more sobering numbers about our state’s performance in key areas:

  • Washington businesses account for 58 percent of state and local tax collections, the sixth-highest percentage in the United States.

  • Washington’s student achievement is dropping, meaning the state must pay closer attention to workforce development, especially at the high school and college levels.

  • Washington ranks No. 31 in the country for bachelor’s degrees awarded in STEM-related subjects

The issue of education quality and outcomes is important to Washington residents, as evidenced by a survey performed by Opportunity Washington. The survey found 94% of state residents believe it is very important or important to raise the high school graduation rate without lowering taxes, and two out of three believe it’s important to have test-based requirements to ensure students master basic skills.

The state Legislature has some big decisions to make in the next year. It’s our hope lawmakers will keep these data in mind when it enacts policy that affects the future performance of our entire state.

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