Friday Roundup: New tech degree, tax incentives, the robot apocalypse, middle class comeback, Seattle income tax

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:

Spokesman-Review: EWU and Microsoft join forces on a new degree program

Eastern Washington University is partnering with Microsoft on a new data analytics degree designed to prepare students to enter a fast-growing field.

The university’s College of Business and Public Administration is integrating a 10-course data science program by Microsoft in its senior year curriculum for the new undergraduate degree. Students who complete the program will graduate with a B.S. in data analytics, as well as a Microsoft certificate showing they completed the company’s courses.

Everett Herald: Filing a flight plan for tax fairness, jobs, growth

Beyond simplifying taxes, the goal, Ryan explained, is to boost the nation’s annual economic output — which has been between 1 percent and 2 percent — to 3 percent annual growth, which would generate more jobs and higher pay for Americans…

Incentives — as Washington state demonstrated with the tax breaks it delivered in return for Boeing bringing the 787 to Everett, followed by the 777-X — can be effective policy for lawmakers, whether they’re attempting to influence business decisions or encourage home ownership.

Wall Street Journal: Workers: Fear Not the Robot Apocalypse

Throughout history, automation commonly creates more, and better-paying, jobs than it destroys. The reason: Companies don’t use automation simply to produce the same thing more cheaply. Instead, they find ways to offer entirely new, improved products. As customers flock to these new offerings, companies have to hire more people.

Washington Post (Samuelson): The quiet comeback of the middle class

The middle-class comeback may be the year’s most underreported story…

In its latest poll on class identity, done in June, Gallup found that 62 percent put themselves in the broadly defined middle class, while only 36 percent classified themselves as working class or lower class. The shifts, said Gallup, began in 2016 and demonstrated “that subjective social class identification has stabilized close to the prevailing pattern observed before 2009.”

…Karlyn Bowman, the polling expert at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, spends her time searching for opinion trends. She finds that countless polls tell a similar story. People are more optimistic. Many polls have, like the survey on class, returned to pre-crisis patterns. “We’re back economically” is how she puts it.

The Lens: How Seattle might defend its progressive income tax

However, previous EOI reports and recent State Supreme Court rulings point to possible arguments they could make to clear what would appear to be insurmountable legal obstacle.  Under state law, cities require legislative authorization to levy a tax. Additionally, state law specifically prohibits a tax on “net income,” which was cited last year by the State Court of Appeals in its ruling against Olympia Measure 1, which would have imposed a local progressive income tax. As Seattle’s ordinance appears to do, the initiative was intended to trigger a lawsuit.

However, Seattle claims in its ordinance that it has authority as a “first-class city” under state law to “all powers of taxation for local purposes except those which are expressly preempted by the state,” whereas Olympia is a “code city”, and its taxing authority under state law was not used to justify or defend Measure 1.

It’s the same legal argument Seattle successfully used this year to defend its tax on firearm and ammunition sales.