Friday Roundup: College tuition and budget cuts, income taxes, infrastructure investment, trade policy, and climate change

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Preston Cooper in Forbes: Budget Cuts Don’t Explain Tuition Increases

…on a per-student basis, a one-dollar reduction in state appropriations is associated with just a 2.3 cent increase in tuition revenue. The association is significant (i.e., likely not due to statistical noise), so we cannot rule out that budget cuts have an effect on tuition. But are they the primary factor, or even a major one? Not even close.

Other economic evidence bears this out. An analysis by Michael Rizzo and Ronald Ehrenberg of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute found that a 10% increase in state appropriations is associated with just a 1.8% reduction in in-state tuition.

Jason Mercier op-ed in Seattle Times: State should make state income-tax ban crystal clear

Officials at the state Department of Revenue agree that Washington has a ban on a graduated income tax, and they are not certain the “current court,” as they put it, would still hold a graduated income-tax law unconstitutional.

This is why there has been an ongoing effort by income-tax supporters to find a legal test case. One such example is occurring this year in Olympia with efforts to put a local income tax on the ballot. Recognizing the proposal violated state law, the Olympia City Council requested an injunction to keep the proposal off this year’s November ballot. …hurston County Superior Court recently agreed and ruled to keep the local income tax off the ballot.

Based on the very clear ban in state law on local income taxes, this decision was not a surprise. Shockingly, however, an appeals court commissioner stayed the ruling pending full appeal, meaning the Olympia proposal is back on the ballot.

National Association of Manufacturers: Senate Passes Key Infrastructure Legislation

Today, the Senate voted 95 to 3 to approve essential  infrastructure legislation, the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (S. 2848).  The bill includes authorizations for key civil works missions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including inland waterway navigation and port dredging—infrastructure investments that are vital to manufacturers and our competitiveness. The NAM sent a Key Vote letter to the Senate on this measure.

The nation’s deepwater ports and inland waterways help keep transportation costs competitive and are an important means of transport for manufacturers and other industrial shippers. The waterways in particular move products and commodities now valued at $232 billion annually, but unfortunately more than half of the inland waterways’ lock chambers have exceeded their 50-year design life. Our nation needs a modern infrastructure that manufacturers can depend upon in order to remain competitive.

The Lens: Washington Exporters Renew Push To Expand Global Trade, Via TPP

Prospects for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the U.S. and 11 other nations remain uncertain. According to The Hill, Congress is unlikely to consider it this fall during their lame-duck session following the November 8 general election. However, President Barack Obama pledges to engineer a TPP vote then

TPP has been a lightning rod during the Presidential campaign. It is opposed by both Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump, and has drawn vocal grassroots opposition, which in turn has made Congress skittish about a vote even after the elections.

Yet despite its “third rail” political status, TPP is polling relatively well. In an August poll conducted by Morning Consult, 35 percent of respondents favored TPP, 22 percent were opposed, and 43 percent said they did not know or had no opinion.

According to an April opinion poll by Elway Research of Washington state voters, 54 percent supported TPP, while 23 percent were opposed.

Crosscut: State unveils new rules to combat climate change

The Clean Air Rule, which goes into effect October 17, will initially apply to 24 businesses that each produce at least 100,000 metric tons of carbon each year, including all five oil refineries in Washington, as well as power plants, fuel distributors and other industries…

Critics argue … that using the 50-year-old Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution steps beyond the law’s intentions, and stretches the limits of executive power. “After failing to win support in the Legislature for a California-style cap-and-trade plan, Gov. Inslee is now side-stepping the legislative process by implementing this rule administratively, which we believe is a case of regulatory over-reach,” Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business, said in a statement..