Conference Board reports consumer confidence grew in January, with improved job prospects.

Today’s Conference Board survey shows consumer confidence grew in January.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® increased in January, following a moderate increase in December. The Index now stands at 131.6 (1985=100), up from 128.2 (an upward revision) in December. The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – increased from 170.5 to 175.3. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – increased from 100.0 last month to 102.5 this month.

“Consumer confidence increased in January, following a moderate advance in December, driven primarily by a more positive assessment of the current job market and increased optimism about future job prospects,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director, Economic Indicators, at The Conference Board. “Optimism about the labor market should continue to support confidence in the short-term and, as a result, consumers will continue driving growth and prevent the economy from slowing in early 2020.” 

The Associated Press explains why consumer confidence is monitored closely.

Consumer confidence surveys are closely followed for clues about whether households are in a buying mood. Consumer spending accounts for 70% of economic activity.

The initial outlook for 2020 tilts toward the positive.

The economy slowed in 2019 and is expected to slow further in 2020 but solid consumer spending is expected to keep the country out of a recession.

From the Conference Board report,

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved in January. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased from 39.0 percent to 40.8 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased, from 11.0 percent to 10.4 percent. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market also improved. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” increased from 46.5 percent to 49.0 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined, from 13.0 percent to 11.6 percent.

That, of course, presents a contrast with employers’ consistent problems in finding qualified workers.

House Democrats Unveil 2015-17 Budget Plan Supporters Turn Out For Transportation Package

This morning, House Democrats released their proposed 2015-17budget and revenue plan. (TVW coverage of press conference here.)

The Spokesman-Review summarizes the proposals:

Washington would spend an extra $1.4 billion on public schools, increase money for mental health programs and give raises to teachers and state workers under a two-year budget unveiled this morning by House Democrats.

To help pay for this $38.8 billion spending plan, they are proposing several tax increases, including a capital gains tax on investment gains of more than $25,000 for an individual or $50,000 for a couple; a bump in the business and occupation tax rate on services and closing seven tax breaks that have survived previous attempts at elimination.

 As we wrote this morning, that’s a 13 percent increase in state spending, which House leadership believes will satisfy the state Supreme Court’s McCleary mandate and maintain services. The revenue package is presented as a step toward increasing tax fairness and restoring spending reductions made during the recession. The governor’s proposed cap-and-trade taxes are not included in the House proposal, but members indicated they’re open to considering such taxes but think it will take more time to understand how to implement such a program.

Although it might go without saying, we’ll say it: Senate leadership has argued that the budget can be balanced and McCleary obligations satisfied without new taxes. Further, they’ve said that to be considered, the House budget must include passage of the necessary revenue bills to fund it. 

The House Appropriations Committee will hold a public hearing on the spending plan Monday, March 30 at 1:30 p.m. 

The Senate is expected to release its plan in the coming weeks.  

The other key event in House chambers this week was yesterday’s House Transportation Committee hearing on the bipartisan, comprehensive transportation package passed by the Senate. Supporters of the Senate plan turned out in force, offering compelling testimony about the need to act now. Thank you to the many Opportunity Washington partners who made the trip to Olympia!

For more on these and other issues, please note our recent blog posts below.

You can also stay up to date via our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Thank you for your support of Opportunity Washington!

 
Views from the blog this week:

Key Education Reforms Awaiting Legislative Action

Opportunity Washington: Priorities for Shared Prosperityemphasizes education – our Achieve priority. That’s because research has confirmed that our best chance of expanding opportunity for Washingtonians, for spreading prosperity statewide, and for enhancing economic mobility in our state begins with education. 
 
We want to alert you to three bills currently pending in the Legislature. They represent significant reforms that will improve academic outcomes and accountability. 
 
The two Senate bills are:
  • SB 5744, assuring the best teachers remain in the classroom by basing any reduction-in-force on performance evaluation rather than seniority and empowering principals by granting them greater control of teacher placement.
  • SB 5748, strengthening teacher and principal evaluations by

    ensuring state assessments are one of the multiple measures of student growth.

In the House: 
  • HB 1813, improving computer science education in the public schools with clear learning standards and scholarship opportunities for educators to improve their skills.
Opportunity Washington endorses these bills, which are not yet scheduled for floor votes. We want you to be aware of them now and to mention them to your legislators when you communicate with them. We will keep you informed on their progress.
 
Thank you for your support for expanding the culture of opportunity in our state!

So Close! Senate Passes Transportation Reform Bills; Still Awaiting Final Passage of Revenue Bill

After a long day at work, the state Senate passed significant transportation reform bills today. After extended debate, final action on the major revenue bill was delayed late this afternoon pending a ruling from the chair on whether the measure required a supermajority vote for passage.

Follow us on social media to keep up with progress on the revenue plan. We remain very optimistic. The Senate’s action thus far keeps alive the state’s best chance at a comprehensive transportation package in a decade. 

Lawmakers adopted a number of amendments as the bills were heard on the floor today, but the fundamentals remain in place. We’ll be writing more about today’s legislative progress in the coming days. But for now, let’s take a moment to celebrate the progress we’ve made and urge lawmakers to maintain momentum. 

Contact your colleagues, friends and neighbors and urge them to be in touch with their legislators to support this legislation. (Also, please encourage them to sign up for these Opportunity Washington updates.)

You can also stay up to date via our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Thank you for your support of Opportunity Washington!

Views from the blog this week:

ALERT: Contact Your State Senator Regarding Transportation

A package of transportation investment and reform bills is headed to the floor of the Washington State Senate. The state legislature has not made a new investment in transportation in a decade and a vote on this important package could come as early as Thursday.

Lawmakers need to hear from you on this important issue. Use this link to email your state senator directly. Remind lawmakers how important safe and efficient roads and bridges are to you and our state. It’s past time to invest in transportation.

Thank you to our partner, the Association of Washington Business, for providing this easy-to-use legislator look-up and letter-writing tool.

Signs of progress as legislature’s first deadline approaches

Today marks the first legislative cutoff. For those outside the Olympia bubble, it means that, to stay alive, any policy bill that doesn’t impact the budget (or transportation) must move out of its committee of origin by today. It’s an important benchmark because it tells us what bills have traction and what’s likely to be left by the wayside.

Signs of progress as we approach today’s deadline:

On Transportation: After a packed public hearing earlier this week, the Senate Transportation Committee approved the bipartisan transportation proposal announced last week. We’re pleased to see lawmakers understanding the urgency of this issue and taking decisive action. We’re hearing a floor vote could come soon. We’ll let you know when that’s happening and how you can voice your support.

On Education: The Senate Education Committee moved SB 5744, a measure aimed at supporting effective teachers. It directs districts to base reduction-in-force policies on performance, not seniority. It also gives principals greater authority in hiring decisions. Both components are key to supporting great teachers in every classroom.

On the other side of the capitol, the House Education Committee moved HB 1813, a bill to support K-12 computer science education, standards and teacher training. There’s a lot of support in Washington for improved STEM education and this bill is good step.

Look for more activity in Olympia as that first deadline approaches later today. TVW will have ongoing coverage. You can also stay up to date via our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Legislative Alert: Transportation

Opportunity Washington

Urges Support of New Transportation Funding

(Sent to members of the Washington Legislature yesterday)

Senate negotiators have just announced agreement on a vital transportation funding plan. This is a critical first step in passing legislation this session to preserve and maintain our state’s roads and bridges and improve critical economic corridors. 
 
Key elements of the plan address Opportunity Washington’s major Connect priorities: $15 billion in new funding over 16 years, primarily targeting highway preservation and maintenance and highway project completion and improvement. 
 
This proposal lays an excellent foundation for the first comprehensive transportation package in more than a decade. 
 
We thank Senators Curtis King, Steve Hobbs, Joe Fain, and Marko Liias for working together to bring this plan forward.
 

We urge you to support new transportation investment and adopt a plan as quickly as possible. It’s time to act on a new package that will benefit the entire state.

 
Opportunity Washington: Priorities for Shared Prosperity made transportation funding a critical priority. Here’s why.
 

]Thank you for your legislative service and commitment to our state. Please let us know how we can help. 
 

 

 

ACTION ALERT: Transportation

  Tell Senate Transportation Committee Members to Act Quickly on Bipartisan Investment Package

Senate negotiators have just announced agreement on a vital transportation funding plan. This is a critical first step in passing legislation this session to preserve and maintain our state’s roads and bridges and improve critical economic corridors. 

Key elements of the plan address Opportunity Washington’s major Connect priorities: $15 billion in new funding over 16 years, primarily targeting highway preservation and maintenance and highway project completion and improvement. Funding comes from an 11.7-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase phased-in over three years and additional truck and passenger vehicle weight fees.

This proposal lays an excellent foundation for the first comprehensive transportation package in more than a decade. We need to get the plan out of the Senate and into the House for action as quickly as possible.

Thank Senators Curtis King, Steve Hobbs, Joe Fain, and Marko Liias

And contact members of the Senate Transportation Committee and urge them to support this bipartisan plan and keep it moving.

Here are the members of the committee:

Opportunity Washington: Priorities for Shared Prosperity made transportation funding a critical priority. This video explains why.

Thank you for your support and commitment to Opportunity Washington. Please let us know how we can help. And if you’d like tocopy us on your email to the senators, please use this address.