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Washington Research Council (4 podcasts: Policy Today, Common Ground, InFocus and 90 Seconds)

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Policy Today: Housing affordability in the Puget Sound

Buying an affordable home is a serious challenge for people throughout the Puget Sound region. Joining us to discuss the impediments to increasing the housing supply is Nick Harper, Senior Director of Strategy & Policy for the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties. Here's a statistic from Nick that really highlights the problem: Over the last five years on average, the city of Seattle has grown by 50 people a day, 35 jobs a day, but only 11 living units a day. And that...


Policy Today: Dr. Rick Evans on using computer science to improve economics

In this episode we're joined by Dr. Rick Evans of the University of Chicago, an expert on open source macroeconomics, which aims to use the power of computational modeling to enhance economic research and public policy analysis. It's a fascinating discussion on a groundbreaking new field. To learn more about Dr. Evans, visit his website here: https://sites.google.com/site/rickecon/ For information about the University of Chicago's new Becker Friedman Institute Open Source Macroeconomics...


Policy Today: Seattle's surprisingly robust manufacturing industry

Today we're talking with the Manufacturing Industrial Council's Executive Director, Dave Gering, about the manufacturing industry - and manufacturing jobs - in Seattle. Dave talks about the 106,000 industrial jobs in the city, and what the industry is doing to educate students with the skills they need to find employment. With many open positions and employers having to import skilled workers from out of state, there are plenty of job opportunities in this robust sector of the local economy....


Policy Today: McCleary Part 2 - Tax Revenues

Today's episode covers the new tax revenues in the recently passed K-12 education funding law, which the State of Washington hopes will fulfill its obligations in the Supreme Court's McCleary ruling. You can read our Special Report on the McCleary legislation here: https://researchcouncil.org/2017/08/17/new-special-report-has-the-state-finally-closed-the-book-on-mccleary


Policy Today: McCleary Part 1 - Policy and Funding

Today we're discussing the K-12 education funding bill passed by the state Legislature, in response to the state Supreme Court's McCleary ruling on basic education. In this episode we cover funding and policy changes; in the next episode we'll cover tax revenues. To read our Special Report on the McCleary bill, click here: https://researchcouncil.org/2017/08/17/new-special-report-has-the-state-finally-closed-the-book-on-mccleary


Policy Today: Manufacturing Tax Policy

Today we're discussing the manufacturing tax relief bill recently vetoed by Gov. Inslee. You can read our Seattle Times op-ed on the manufacturing tax here: http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/lower-taxes-to-boost-manufacturing-jobs/


Policy Today: State Revenue Forecasts & the State Budget

In today's podcast we talk about state revenue forecasts and how they affect the state budget.


Policy Today: Making Sense of Political, Economic Upheaval

The only constant in politics and economics today is change. From establishment-busting elections to upheaval in the workforce, the world is a much different place than it was just a few decades ago. Today's guest, Ian Toner, analyzes these changes for a living. Mr. Toner serves as Chief Investment Officer at Verus Investments, which offers research-driven advice to its clients (who include educational and charitable organizations, corporate, multi-employer and public defined benefit plans,...


Policy Today: A new capital gains tax for Washington state?

With proposals for implementing a state capital gains tax making the rounds in the Legislature, we discuss what a capital gains tax is, what the proposals are, and how they would affect Washington state. Click here for our recent analysis of the capital gains tax proposals: http://researchcouncil.org/2017/03/31/new-special-report-proposals-for-a-state-capital-gains-tax


Policy Today: Comparing the House & Senate budget plans

Today we're discussing the differences between the state House and state Senate budget plans in the Washington Legislature. We've got a handy new Policy Brief with a bar graph and chart comparing the two. With a scheduled April 23 adjournment date looming, and the House proposing $1.5 Billion more in tax revenues than the Senate, it seems unlikely lawmakers will complete their business in the regular session; a "special" session appears likely. To read our policy brief comparing the House...


Policy Today: What the new federal education law means for states, with AEI's Rick Hess

When then-President Obama signed the bipartisan "Every Student Succeeds Act" into law in late 2015, it marked a significant change in federal education policy. The previous law, President George W. Bush's "No Child Left Behind," had grown increasingly controversial for what critics on both the left and right called excessive federal overreach into local education policy. Today we're talking with Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute about his new book - "The Every Student Succeeds...


Policy Today: A more fair tax-appeals process for Washington state

In today's episode we discuss Washington state's less-than-stellar system for tax appeals, and how it could be improved. We recently wrote a report on making the state tax-appeals process more fair -- which could include the creation of a state tax court. Bipartisan legislation to do just that has been introduced in the state Legislature this year. To read our report click here: http://researchcouncil.org/files/docs/2017/02/taxappeals.pdf To read our blog post on tax court legislation click...


Common Ground: Rep. Drew Stokesbary

We're delighted to welcome state Rep. Drew Stokesbary (R-Auburn) to the podcast. As soon as we saw all the "Arrested Development" gifs populating his Twitter feed we knew he'd be the perfect guest. We sat down at the state Capitol in Olympia to chat about him being a younger member of the Legislature, how he got into politics and government and his approach to working across the aisle. Other random topics of discussion: Kim Jon Un and Dick Cheney. Plus, Drew fits in a reference to "The...


Policy Today: How Tax Policy Affects the Economy

In this episode we discuss our recent Special Report, "Using Tax Policy to Promote Economic Vitality." Too often, adjustments to our state tax system are portrayed simply as "breaks" that give certain industries and/or companies special treatment. But as our report shows, these adjustments play a crucial role in keeping Washington competitive with other states for jobs and economic activity that could very easily go elsewhere. To read our Special Report, click here:...


Common Ground: Rep. Brian Blake on Trump's appeal to traditional D voters in his district

We're pleased to welcome state Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen), who took time out of his busy schedule during the legislative session to join our podcast. Rep. Blake represents the 19th Legislative District on Washington's southwest coast, a district whose counties have traditionally voted Democratic in presidential elections but last year largely went for Donald Trump. Jobs and the economy are hugely important, as is the case for most of Washington's rural residents. We discuss the issues and...


90 Seconds: Four-year balanced budgeting

In this episode we offer a brief overview of the four-year balanced budget requirement passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor in 2012. To read our Policy Brief on the requirement (from May 2012), click here: https://researchcouncil.org/files/docs/2013/08/2012balancedbudget.pdf To read our blog post (from April 2016) defending the four-year balanced budget requirement, click here: https://researchcouncil.org/2016/04/05/what-good-is-the-four-year-balanced-budget-requirement


Policy Today: Four plans in the Legislature for education funding

The biggest job for the Washington state Legislature this year is public school funding for grades K through 12. Right now there are four major plans before lawmakers, all responding to the state Supreme Court's McCleary ruling, which found that the state is not fully funding basic education. We discuss all four plans in this episode. To read our Policy Brief offering a side-by-side comparison of the four plans click here: http://researchcouncil.org/files/docs/2017/03/sidebyside.pdf To read...


Policy Today: All About Prescription Drug Prices

Today's guest is Saumil Pandya, Senior Director of Policy & Research at PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. We discuss the lengthy process of getting a drug to market; comparing the high prices of some drugs (such as those used to cure Hepatitis C) with the even higher prices of treatment, hospitalization and surgery; how the prescription drug industry interacts with Medicaid; and the price-reducing effects of drugs going off-patent and being available in generic...


90 Seconds: What is basic education?

In this episode we briefly discuss basic education, which is at the heart of the state Supreme Court's McCleary ruling. In that ruling the court said the state is not fulfilling its constitutional "paramount duty" to fully provide for basic education in public schools.


90 Seconds: Class-size reduction

In this 90 Seconds episode we briefly discuss the return of Initiative 1351, the voter-approved measure to reduce class sizes in grades K through 12. So far lawmakers have only funded K-3 class-size reductions, citing both budget concerns and research showing smaller class sizes have the most impact in grades K through 3.