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Paul Guppy

Every day, startups and entrepreneurs across Washington develop exciting new products and services that might benefit consumers. Of course there are no guarantees. Any two-guys-in-a-garage idea could lead to brilliant commercial success or miserable failure, but there is no way to know until the new product or service is tested in the real-world marketplace. All these would-be profitable business owners face a basic problem (unless they are already wealthy) - raising enough money to get started.

The people behind any startup are usually untried and hold few assets, so they often can’t secure a bank loan, and their nascent project isn’t big enough to incorporate and launch a conventional IPO. One answer is crowdfunding, leveraging the connecting power of the internet to collect small contributions from a wide variety of people at very low transaction costs. The method can be used to finance nonprofit or for-profit projects. Either way, using crowdfunding to raise money is popular, simple and voluntary. read more »

 
Opinions

The school bell rings, and rows of eager young faces turn expectantly to the front of the class as the teacher begins the day’s lesson. These students look forward to graduation day, when they hope to embark on a future made brighter by a good public education. Sadly, for nearly half the students at some public schools that day will never come. They will drop out instead.

Why would loving parents tolerate a school that fails to educate their children? Often it is because they have no choice. District officials make school assignments and most families can’t afford private school tuition. read more »

 

A bill in Olympia, HB 1609, would end the practice of automatically firing the newest and youngest teachers first when Washington school districts implement layoffs. Under the bill, school administrators would be required to consider teacher performance, not just seniority, before letting a teacher go. The introductory language of the bill lays out its intent: “There is an urgent need to conduct layoffs in a way that retains the most effective teachers.”

Education research consistently shows that placing an effective teacher in the classroom is more important than any other single factor, including smaller class size, in helping children learn. A good teacher, as opposed to a weak one, can make as much as a full year’s difference in the learning growth of students. Students taught by a high-quality teacher three years in a row score 50 percentile points higher on standardized tests than students of ineffective teachers. read more »

 

The weeks of angry protest and heated controversy in Wisconsin have sparked a national debate over the role of public sector unions and whether mandatory collective bargaining contributes to massive increases in spending, rising taxes and chronic budget deficits. With our state facing its own $4.5 billion deficit, the question naturally arises, could Wisconsin-style collective bargaining protests happen here? It’s entirely possible — because Washington already has the same kind of collective bargaining system in place. read more »

 

There’s a quiet revolution happening in American public education. The 19th century monopoly model of how to run a public school is slowly breaking up. This process has been going on for years, but may be coming to a head with the release of a surprising new film, “Waiting for Superman,” the latest documentary from filmmaker Davis Guggenheim. Guggenheim is no wild-eyed anti-government crusader. He’s best known for his work with Al Gore in producing “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The inspiration for this latest film stems from Guggenheim’s experience each morning of driving past three public schools as he transported his kids from his comfortable Los Angeles home in Venice beach to their private school. To any caring person the thought naturally occurs, “Why can’t all kids have the same chance for a great education.” read more »

 

What part of “no” do some Olympia lawmakers not understand? Three times, in 1993, 1998 and 2007, the people of Washington passed a requirement saying, “Do not raise our taxes without a two-thirds vote in the legislature.” Each time lawmakers, chaffing under voter-imposed restraints, repealed or suspended the limitation. Conveniently — for them — lawmakers only need a majority vote to repeal the two-thirds vote requirement, and they did it again earlier this year. read more »

 

How would you like to do nothing and receive $2.8 trillion? That is what Congress is on course to do on December 31. On that date the tax cuts enacted under President Bush expire, and federal tax rates will immediately revert to the level they were at ten years ago, taking us back to an era of higher taxes and lower take-home pay.

Washingtonians will be hit hard. According to the Tax Foundation, the average middle income-family will see its take-home income fall by $1,574 next year alone. read more »

 

This fall Washington voters will likely again be asked to pass a state income tax. Tax proponents want to impose a tax of 5 percent on people with yearly incomes over $200,000 and on couples with incomes over $400,000. The rate would rise to 9 percent at the $500,000 and $1 million levels.

Supporters have until July 2 to collect 241,153 signatures. Given well-heeled backers like labor unions and Bill Gates Sr., they will almost certainly make the deadline.

The initiative would reduce the state property tax by 20 percent and increase the business tax credit to $4,800 a year. read more »

 

With Democrats very much in control in Olympia and Republicans on the sidelines, one would expect the billion budget gap with_Legislature to close this year’s looming $2.8 orderly dispatch. Instead Washingtonians were treated to a dizzying round of closed-door meetings, surprise hearings, do-overs, missed deadlines and bills with no text.

In the end the Legislature created or raised 17 taxes, boosting revenues by $800 million. To get that done lawmakers first repealed Initiative 960’s voter-enacted tax limits. read more »

 
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