Friday Roundup: Micro credentials, household income, Seattle income tax, big hike in health exchange rates

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:

New Geography: Update on median household incomes 2016

The highest median household income is in San Jose (photo above), at $110,400 annually, according to the American Community Survey, 2016. San Jose also has the highest median household income for all four ethnicities. Nearby San Francisco has the second highest median household income, $96,700. Washington is third, at $95,800. Fourth ranked Boston is more than $10,000 lower, while fifth ranked Seattle is nearly $4,000 below Boston. However, each of these places have very high costs of living that can more than make up for their advantages relative to cities with lower incomes, lower costs of living and, in an environment of graduated income taxes, lower annual tax payments.

Seattle Times: Seattle home price growth is nearly double any other U.S. city

The Seattle metro area saw single-family home prices surge 13.5 percent during the 12 months ended in July, according to the monthly Case-Shiller home price index, released Tuesday.

Portland was second, with 7.6 percent growth.

Puget Sound Business Journal: GOP lawmakers ask AG Bob Ferguson to take part in Seattle income tax fight

Thirty-six GOP state lawmakers asked Attorney General Bob Ferguson to defend a state law that bans cities and counties from imposing a tax on net income…

While the state isn’t named in the case, lawmakers in the letter argue Ferguson has a duty to intervene because state interests are at stake. If the court rules the law unconstitutional, the ruling would apply statewide and cities and counties could consider an income tax.

Bellingham Herald: Whatcom Council approves third 6-month ban on unrefined fossil exports

The Whatcom County Council has approved a third six-month moratorium on new shipments of unrefined fossil fuels through Cherry Point.

The council voted 6-1 to do so after a long public hearing Tuesday night in which opposing sides made the same arguments as they have previously. Council member Barbara Brenner opposed extending the moratorium…

On Tuesday, refinery workers and representatives once again told the council it could harm family-wage jobs and tax revenue and make it tough for the refineries to continue to compete.

Stateline: To Improve Teacher Training, States Try “Micro Credentials”

With a number of studies casting doubt on the value of traditional teacher training courses, a handful of states are experimenting with “micro credentials” designed to give teachers specific skills they can use in the classroom.

The short courses, usually offered online, allow teachers to take baby steps toward the mandatory training they need to renew their licenses, while giving them new tools they can use immediately. In the research done so far, teachers report they love the little courses. But skeptics worry that the bite-sized pieces may not be of the same academic rigor and quality as old-fashioned professional development courses.

Seattle Times: State’s health exchange rates to jump 24%

Washingtonians buying insurance through the state’s health-insurance exchange will see the largest premium increases next year since the exchange was created in 2013.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange board this week approved rate increases averaging 24 percent. The rates, first approved by the state’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner, will impact about 180,000 customers.