Editorial — Reject Initiative 1351; election endorsements

October 28, 2014

Initiative 1351 is being called The Washington Class Size Reduction Measure. The name is intended to appeal to an electorate with short attention spans and little time for or interest in details. A recent Elway Poll revealed that 66 percent of those polled say they will definitely or probably vote in favor of Initiative 1351.

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Issaquah schools budget set to receive slight boost

August 19, 2014

The Issaquah School District will receive an additional $5.4 million from the state government, which equates to revenue growth of less than 1 percent in the 2014-15 school year.

Public school districts and the state Legislature continue to battle over the McCleary decision of 2012, which said lawmakers weren’t fully funding basic education costs and called for them to rectify the situation.

The state increased funding by about $1 billion for its 2013-15 biennial budget, but that isn’t quite cutting it when it comes to meeting the requirements of the McCleary decision, school officials said.

“Though a billion dollars sounds like a lot, when you split it over two years and divide it by 295 school districts, you see it translates to a rather minute increase in the proportion of state revenue,” said Jake Kuper, the Issaquah district’s chief of finance and operations.

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State unveils new online map of public lands

August 12, 2014

The state Recreation and Conservation Office recently unveiled a new online, interactive map of natural resource and recreation lands owned by government agencies.

The statewide map allows people to click on a location and learn which agency owns the land, the number of acres, the main use of the land and the cost of acquisition if acquired within the past 10 years.

Information is provided about land owned by cities, counties, the federal government and three state agencies — the state Parks and Recreation Commission, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Natural Resources.

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Issaquah, Sammamish councils hold first joint meeting in years

July 22, 2014

Issaquah and Sammamish had the meeting equivalent of a group hug July 14.

After a year in which the two cities’ leadership have found themselves on different sides of several issues, both city councils and other city administrative staff met at Issaquah City Hall to discuss points of mutual interest. It was their first joint meeting since 2011.

“We all have one thing in common,” Issaquah Mayor Fred Butler said. “We certainly love our cities and we love representing them. We not only care about our communities, we care about the region as well.”

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Four candidates face off in 5th District primary

July 8, 2014

Voters will have four choices for state representative in the 5th Legislative District primary Aug. 5.

The two candidates who receive the most votes will run in the Nov. 4 general election.

Incumbent Republican Chad Magendanz will run again. He touts his expertise on educational issues and his willingness to reach across the aisle as reasons for residents to re-elect him.

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Editorial: Give school credit where it is due

July 1, 2014

Students can get physical education credit for taking a class online, but not for playing sports. This policy has its root in a confusing aspect of state law, which needs to be cleaned up and changed to allow credit for sports.

Under current law, a student can waive the requirement for taking a physical education class if he or she is playing a sport, though students must still take a test to show they understand the concepts taught in class. However, they can’t earn the credit for knowing those concepts.

The benefit to students is in freeing up a class period to take something that might look more interesting on their college application.

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Legislature ends with basic education funding unresolved

March 25, 2014

OLYMPIA — House Bill 2797 and Senate Bill 6483 have a lot in common. Both increased funding for K-3 classroom construction, both had bipartisan sponsorship and both failed to reach the governor’s desk.

In McCleary vs. Washington, the state Supreme Court ruled the state was not sufficiently funding basic education. Earlier this year, the court ordered legislators to quicken the pace of funding to meet McCleary obligations — including K-3 class size reductions. According to the National Education Association, Washington state is fourth worst in the nation for classroom sizes.

House Bill 2797 would have sold $700 million in lottery-backed bonds to fund K-3 classroom construction; it passed out of the House 90-7 with bipartisan support. It failed to make it to the Senate floor after State Treasurer Jim McIntire said lottery-backed bonds were too risky.

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Voters to decide on tax, fee hikes for roads, buses

March 25, 2014

King County voters will decide in April on a $60 car-tab fee and a tenth-of-a-cent sales-tax increase for roads and buses.

On Feb. 24, the Metropolitan King County Council also passed a 25-cent fare increase for bus riders starting in 2015. Peak one-zone fares are $2.50 now, and peak-two-zone fares are $3.

The increases make up a funding package county officials pulled together to save King County Metro Transit from threatened service cuts of as much as 17 percent. County leaders hoped the state Legislature would act to save the bus system, but it didn’t.

The ballot measure would raise $130 million per year, $50 million of which would go to cities around the county to fix their streets. The rest would go toward restoring Metro service and fixing county-maintained roads.

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Issaquah pushes for Legislature movement on transportation

January 14, 2014

Transportation will continue to top Issaquah’s wish list for this year’s legislative session.

At a casual breakfast meeting Jan. 6, city leaders met with local representatives and Issaquah’s lobbyist Doug Levy to discuss the regular session, which began Jan. 13. Fifth District Republican Reps. Jay Rodne and Chad Magendanz joined Democratic Sen. Mark Mullet in talking about the city’s interests in possible legislation.

“As you travel around the region, I imagine that every jurisdiction names transportation as the No. 1 concern, and Issaquah is no different,” new Mayor Fred Butler said. “Last year was a tough legislative session around a transportation package, because there wasn’t one.”

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State transportation system faces failure without reforms

November 19, 2013

Here we go again — talk of yet another special legislative session this year to pass a proposed $12.3 billion transportation tax package.

I will not support a tax proposal, which could include an 11 1/2-cent gas tax increase and a host of new and higher fees, while serious transportation project reforms are needed and folks are struggling to make ends meet.

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