Friday Roundup: Free Community College, WSJ on Seattle head tax, global trade, no “balanced” tax code ballot measure

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:

Nashville Public Radio: Does Free Community College Mean More Graduates? First Tennessee Promise Data Is In

The Tennessee Board of Regents released data last week that attempts to answer the main question behind Tennessee Promise: Does giving away two years of free community college ultimately translate into more degrees? 

The answer, the data suggests, is yes. But the gains are a little more modest than officials were probably hoping for.

On the modest side, this data showed that nearly half of the more than 13,000 students who started Tennessee Promise in 2015 — the first year of the program — ultimately didn’t complete college. That dropout rate is only 2.3 percentage points lower than the prior year’s freshman class, who did not participate in Tennessee Promise.

Seattle Times (op-ed): International trade has raised Washington state’s prosperity

The Peterson Institute for International Economics says that U.S. incomes are 9 percent higher today due to markets opened since World War II than they would have been if the U.S. walled itself off from other nations. Today, 41 million jobs — more than 20 percent of all workers — depend on trade.

Perhaps no region is more versed in this weighty discussion than Seattle, as its diverse economy is deeply tethered to liberalized trade policy. According to a recent report from the Brookings Institution, the region has 16,000 jobs at risk due to Chinese tariffs alone. Greater Seattle today maintains a staggering 138,271 jobs directly tied to exports, according to the same report. One recent study says that 40 percent of the Evergreen state’s total job market is tied to international trade, a number that towers over almost every other state in the nation.

Spokesman-Review: Billions at stake for Washington growers and manufacturers under Trump trade policy, speakers say

As the Trump administration forges ahead with trade policy, billions of dollars are at stake for Washington’s growers and manufacturers, speakers said Tuesday at the Association of Washington Business’s spring meeting in Spokane.

The looming renegotiation of NAFTA, pending tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum imports and a potential trade spat with China could roil the state’s economy.

“People think this is all about urban areas. It’s not,” said Kris Johnson, AWB’s president and chief executive. “(International trade) is in every corner of the state.”

KOMO News: Washington governor backs proposed carbon fee initiative

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is backing a new proposed ballot initiative that would charge a fee on carbon pollution.

Inslee said he supported it when asked Tuesday at the Center for American Progress conference in Washington D.C.

Seattle Times: Coalition abandons initiative requiring legislature to ‘balance’ Washington’s tax code

A coalition of liberal groups has decided against running a 2018 initiative that would have pushed Washington’s Legislature to alter the state’s tax code to make wealthy households pay the same share of their income as poorer households.

The group, People for a Balanced Tax Code, had filed drafts of an initiative and paid $75,000 to two polling firms. The measure under consideration would have given the Legislature until 2020 to raise taxes on the rich or lower them on poorer households — or some combination thereof.

Wall Street Journal (editorial): Seattle to Business: Drop Dead

The head tax is merely the city council’s latest depredation against business. In 2015 the council allowed Uber drivers, who are independent contractors, to collectively bargain. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Friday declared that the ordinance violates antitrust laws. The council last year imposed a 2.25% income tax on high earners, which a state court has blocked.

Many businesses have located and expanded in Seattle because Washington state doesn’t impose an income tax. Last year Washington’s GDP growth led the country at 4.4%. But Seattle’s city council seems to think this growth will continue no matter what it does. Ask Connecticut how that turns out.

The Lens: Association of American Railroads joins MBT Lawsuit

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has signed an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit Millennium Bulk Terminals’ (MBT) parent company brought forward against Governor Jay Inslee and his administration for unnecessarily prolonging the permitting process of MBT’s proposed export terminal in Longview.