State Government

The Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division is inviting the public to a series of nine community meetings from June 1 to 15. At these meetings, the ferries division will present information on a variety of issues, respond to public questions and listen to comments.

“I am looking forward to discussing what came out of legislative session,” said David Moseley, Assistant Secretary for Washington State Ferries. “There many important tasks ahead (...) and the communities are critical to the future of the ferry system.”

Issues on the agenda for the meetings include: recap of the 2009 legislative session, the Washington State Ferries long-range plan, vehicle reservations pre-design report and tariff process.

The community meeting schedule is as follows:

- Monday, June 1, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Kitsap Conference Center at Bremerton Harborside, 100 Washington Ave., Bremerton

- Tuesday, June 2, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Clinton Community Hall, 6411 Central Ave., Clinton

- Wednesday, June 3, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
McMurray Middle School, 9329 SW Cemetery Road, Vashon Island

- Monday, June 8, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

05/27/2009

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has named the Alki Homestead, among other Washington landmarks, as an endangered historic property.

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation says this about the Homestead:

In 1903, Gladys and William Bernard began construction of Fir Lodge.  This country estate, located near Alki Point in West Seattle, exemplified the Rustic Style of architecture and stands as an early iteration of the style in the Puget Sound region.  Its log structure and river rock fireplace provided a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Seattle and the city’s accompanying growth during the 1890s.  Almost immediately after its construction, Fir Lodge became a gathering place, serving as the first clubhouse for the fledgling Seattle Auto Club from 1907-1911.  Since 1950, the structure has been home to the Alki Homestead Restaurant.  Because of its architectural quality and its association with the development of Seattle, the Alki Homestead Restaurant is a designated city landmark.

05/22/2009
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File photo

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has named the Alki Homestead, among other Seattle landmarks, an endangered historic property.

West Seattle resident Russ Brubaker has been named one of 16 recipients of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s 2009 Award for Leadership in Management.

Gregoire said Brubaker, senior assistant director of tax policy for the state's Department of Revenue, has been a champion of simplicity and fairness in tax policy for more than 20 years. She called him a visionary leader and an advocate of fiscal efficiency.

Brubaker helped pave the way for Washington joining a national effort to encourage out-of-state sellers to collect sales tax on sales to Washington residents; supported passage of taxpayer rights and responsibilities legislation, championed tax simplifications in reporting for small businesses, and defended Washington’s tax system against Congressional proposals that would have eviscerated the state’s business and occupation tax.

Locally, Brubaker has served on the Northwest AIDs Foundation Legislative Committee, Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, City Neighborhood Council, Citizens Toxics Cleanup Campaign Board, and the Seattle Parks and Green Space Levy Oversight Committee.

05/18/2009
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Photo credit: 
Washington Dept. of Revenue

West Seattle resident Russ Brubaker has been named one of 16 recipients of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s 2009 Award for Leadership in Management.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill today, May 12, that commits $2.8 billion in state money to help build a tunnel under the Seattle waterfront to replace the 56-year-old Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Gregoire signed the bill today at 2 p.m. at the downtown Seattle Waterfront Aquarium.

She posted the following on her Twitter page: "The tunnel bill is signed! Thanks to mayor, county executive, port and legislature for support. New jobs, waterfront, and transpo capacity coming soon."

The tunnel and associated elements of the plan will cost more than $4 billion and Seattle and King County are responsible for the rest. The mile-long elevated section of Highway 99 carries a little more than 100,000 vehicles a day, according to the state department of transportation.

Kristy Van Ness (Laing), communications manager for the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program, said the $4 billion price tag also includes a new waterfront surface street, transit investments, and downtown waterfront and city street improvements. The bored tunnel portion is estimated to cost $1.9 billion, she said.

05/12/2009

All three lawmakers from the 34th District will host a town hall meeting to talk about the 2009 session and what future steps our state should take.

"This wasn't an easy session," said Sen. Joe McDermott, D-West Seattle. "The budget cuts will be hard on everyone, and I know people were already worried about losing their job or their home. But this won't last forever. It will take all of us, working together, to bring our state back to prosperity."

The meeting is set for 10 a.m. May 16 at the Jim Wiley Community Center, 9800 Eighth Ave. S.W.

"There's nothing more important than hearing from the citizens we represent," said Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle. "It's nice to be back home and talking to real people at the grocery store or the coffee shop."

The lawmakers returned home after the end of the legislature's 105-day session. The legislature passed a balanced budget, but left a handful of bills uncompleted that might require a short special session.

05/04/2009

State lawmakers Friday approved the plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep-bored tunnel.

The Senate voted 39-9 to accept a controversial House amendment that was added Wednesday that would require Seattle property owners to pay for any cost overruns on the tunnel construction, a $4.3 billion project.

The bill now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire for approval.

The amendment would require property owners in Seattle to pay for any excess expenses beyond the $2.8 billion dollars that the state receives from taxes and tolling.

In a failed vote on Wednesday, the amendment squeaked by with a 49-47 roll call vote.

However, Mayor Greg Nickels along, with Seattle lawmakers, senators and council members, found the amendment to be unclear on how to differentiate who would actually be required to pay and how. Because the state will be in charge of the construction contracts for the tunnel it is still in question on how private property owners will be taken into account for overrun charges.

However, Seattle voters will get to vote on any city-wide property taxes before they are enacted.

04/25/2009
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Courtesy Washington Department of Transportation

Ballard Care and Rehabilitation Nursing Home is taking action after a proposed state budget cut recently announced in Olympia could mean a drop of as much as $800,000 for Ballard Care alone.

The nursing home is proposing to the legislature an adoption of a quality maintenance fee that would then be matched by federal funds and can be returned to skilled nursing facilities in the form of an add-on to their current rates.

State lawmakers have proposed more than $90 million in Medicaid nursing home cuts over already reduced reimbursement levels across Washington state.

“The nursing facilities are lagging far behind the current rate of inflation, “ said Angie Davis, administrator of Ballard Care and Rehabilitation Center. “We suffer regularly from high cost of food, medical supplies, insurance for caregivers, liability insurance and utilities.”

Davis said they have suffered a 3.2 percent decrease in their Medicaid rates since April 1, which accounted for $19 a day for Medicaid residents in Ballard Care and Rehabilitation alone.

They are facing another 5 to 6 percent decrease in Medicaid rates in addition to that starting July 1.

04/14/2009
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Allison Espiritu

Monika Mires (left) and Esther Kamara (right), both certified nursing assistants at Ballard Rehabilitation, express the challenges in taking care of patients like Nancy Barberis (center), a multiple sclerosis resident, if the state decides to cut $800,000 from their facilities, an equivalence of 25 full-time positions for certified nursing assistants.

Local nursing home Ballard Care and Rehabilitation will hold a press conference tomorrow, April 14 at 10 a.m., about proposed budget cuts in Olympia, that, if enacted, they say will create a crisis for thousands of nursing home patients across the state.

Joined by advocates for the elderly, nursing home administrators and staff will speak out publicly about the impact these cuts will have on the seniors in their care.

The press event will be held at Ballard Care and Rehabilitation Nursing Home, 820 N.W. 95th St.

Concerned staff and Executive Director of the Western Washington chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association Nancy Dapper will be there. According to the local nursing home, it's facing the prospect of $800,000 in cuts – the equivalent of 25 full-time certified nurse assistants, the direct care workers who work with residents every day.

More than 60 percent of nursing home patients rely on Medicaid to pay for their care. Some state lawmakers have proposed more than $90 million in Medicaid nursing home cuts over already reduced reimbursement levels.

04/13/2009

The dysfunctional idiocy known as the “tunnel option” for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement costs too much, provides less traffic capacity than a new viaduct WHILE costing more, and reduces access to the downtown core - and thus both damages downtown retail and entertainment entrepreneurs, and simultaneously reduces tax revenue therefrom.

Aside from being the most expensive available option (even before the inevitable cost over-runs) at a time when our state is running a $9 billion dollar deficit with things likely to only get worse over the next three years, the tunnel option is cursed with numerous functional flaws likely to incur substantial future expense.

In a growing urban area (and despite the current economic fiasco and the cities disastrous mayor, Seattle is about the closest thing to urban growth remaining in the state), reducing the carrying capacity (three lanes each direction to two) while eliminating two exits into the downtown core borders on criminal foolishness.

04/10/2009

(Editor's note: The following was sent as an email from Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles to her constituents with a copy to this newspaper.)

As you likely know, I introduced an income tax bill last week, SB 6147, which would establish a 1 percent income tax on high income residents. I am sending this e-mail to you with some clarification relating to the bill’s provisions. 

Our state faces a historic revenue shortfall, the chorus for a state income tax is growing louder. Our state tax system is dependent on the sales tax. It is regressive, forcing the poorest in our communities to pay the most of their income in taxes, and structurally unsustainable as we become an ever-increasing global economy.

That is why I have introduced Senate Bill 6147 to implement a 1 percent income tax on incomes of over $500,000 annually for individuals, $1 million for spouses filing joint returns and $750,000 for single-income households.

The revenues collected from this tax must be deposited in the Education Enrichment Account, created under this measure, to be used in support of the state’s public schools, colleges and universities.

04/07/2009
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