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Hella Bus Blog

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Honey I Shrunk the Class Sizes

Posted by at Jul 29, 2014 11:37 AM |

When it comes to class sizes, Washington State ranks 47th out of the 50 states (so. . . pretty bad). This means that Washington's K-12 public schools have some of the largest class sizes in the nation. Initiative 1351 would reduce this problem by capping the number of students per class. Smaller class sizes would allow students to succeed in classrooms that are not overcrowded and would give them the opportunity to work more closely with their teachers. Being in large classes may also make it difficult for students to pay attention. But...most research on the benefits of small class sizes don't show a consistent trend in academic gains for students.

What "personalized education" currently looks like in Washington state.

The main concern is that this measure might be too costly and that the state may not be able to fund the measure. With reductions in class sizes more teachers would have to be hired and some programs may need to be cut. Opponents of initiative believe that having a system to filter teachers would be a more favorable plan because even if class sizes are reduced, there is no guarantee that the students are being taught well by their teachers.

Still, smaller class sizes would increase graduation rates and consequently increase post-secondary education attainment. If the measure passes,  class sizes be would be reduced from 25 to 17 students in kindergarten through third grade, from 27 to 25 in fourth through sixth grade, and from 29 to 24 in high school.

How Much are You Willing to Pay?

Posted by at Jul 22, 2014 05:09 PM |

What is college notorious for? We're not talking crazy parties and stressful finals. We're talking about something near and dear to everyone's hearts: tuition costs. Many students go into college thinking that a bachelors degree will give them access to better paying jobs. Education is also a way for everyone to get access to opportunities which will put them at a level playing field with others. But tuition costs are causing college students mo problems than they signed up for.

Tuition costs are at the highest that they've ever been and the amount students need to pay for higher education doesn't seem to be going down anytime soon. Public universities and colleges are seeing the most dramatic rise in tuition.  Most costs from increasing need for research funding and salaries for staff.

Student debt is a huge concern for many college grads.

Unfortunately routine budget shortfalls since the beginning of the Great Recession (especially in the state of Washington) have dramatically increased the portion of higher education that students themselves are paying. Where the state used to fund 80 percent (yes, you read that right, eighty!) it is now below 30 percent.

As tuition continues to rise students are beginning to more seriously weigh the costs and benefits of higher education. However, by 2020, around 70% of jobs in Washington will need some kind of post secondary education.

With rising tuition costs dealing with student debt is going to become more difficult for people. What do you think? As a young person, how are you dealing with your student debt?

Saving Metro. . . Again . . .

Posted by at Jul 21, 2014 10:36 AM |
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This blog post was written by Josh Strassman, 2014 Summer Intern and Content Lead at the Bus helping to run the Hella Bus Blog.

It should be obvious by our name, but here at The Washington Bus we are huge supporters of public transit! We organized for Prop 1, which would have stopped large-scale cuts to King County Metro transit. Although Prop 1 passed overwhelmingly (with 66 percent of the vote!) in the City of Seattle, it failed county-wide.

And just in case you forgot how to ride the Metro, this video is a gem.

Fortunately, our city is not out of options when it comes to transit. After the defeat of Prop 1, activists and public officials quickly mobilized to hammer out a proposal to stop most Metro cuts in Seattle. On Thursday, the City Council met to vote on a proposal to send to voters - this time only Seattle voters - to stave off Metro cuts.

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How To Train Your ‘Dragonfest 2014’

Posted by at Jul 18, 2014 02:24 PM |
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This blog post was written by John Flanagan, 2014 Bus Fellow and Event Coordinator for the Washington Alliance For Gun Responsibility (WAGR), a campaign dedicated to pass I-594 on the November ballot. You can find out more about the Washington Bus Fellowship at


Super awesome $2 food fair? Check.

(Image Source)

30-foot half-man half-dragon performance? Yep.

(Image Source)

A group of Bus Fellows registering people to vote and spreading the word about I-594? You know it! This past weekend, July 12th and 13th, the Bus Fellows hit up the International District here in Seattle for the 2014 Dragonfest. Together with some of the amazing folks from the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR), we were able to spread the word about an upcoming initiative that will be on the November ballot.

I-594 aims to close the gun show and private sales loopholes that currently exist by requiring anyone attempting to purchase a firearm to undergo a background check. On Saturday the Fellows witnessed an incredible response from the local community while spreading word about the initiative in the form of countless voters ‘pledging’ to vote yes on I-594, and some actually pledging their time to advocate for the initiative. All in all, Dragonfest was a screaming success and allowed the Fellows to engage with the local community in a meaningful and informative way.

Edited by Angela Tang

Hope For The New American Electorate

Posted by at Jul 16, 2014 04:26 PM |
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This blog post was written by Gladys Gitau, 2014 Bus Fellow and Campaign Manager for the Youth Voter Engagement Campaign (YVEC), a campaign aimed to engage the new American electorate by registering young voters as well as underrepresented voters. You can find out more about the Washington Bus Fellowship at

It's always bizarre to see the political phenomenon you learn about in class manifest outside in the field. This weekend I got an up close and heartbreaking look into why politics work how they work.

This weekend the YVEC campaign took to Broadway street in the lovely city of Tacoma in a valiant effort to get all of its eligible residents registered to vote. Walking around Tacoma pride, I myself was encouraged to see droves of queer brown youth, out and proud. What would happen if all these beautiful people were registered and excited to vote, I thought? What kind of world would we live in then!

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What You Should Know About I-594 & I-591

Posted by at Jul 02, 2014 03:20 PM |

This post was written by our summer engagement intern Amulya Cherala.

Gun violence is one of the most heavily covered topics in the media today. From the Sandy Hook shooting to the most recent Isla Vista and Seattle Pacific University shootings, gun violence has begun to harm the safety and lives of many Americans in places where they feel should be safe zones.

What's being done? Well...little legislative reform is being made in order to ensure the safety of United States citizens.  This is mostly because law makers take into account the concerns of those who believe the government is violating their right to bear arms.

Lax laws in the US make it easy for people to purchase guns.

What's being done?

The Washington Alliance on Gun Responsibility is taking matters into their own hands by pushing forward Initiative 594. I-594 would require background checks for all gun transfers.  These checks would include sales conducted privately, at gun shows, and online. Current Federal Law doesn't require background checks at gun shows. With the "gun show loophole" even vote bot can purchase a gun.

The "gun show loophole" is real and people are taking advantage of it.

The opposing initiative on gun control which will also be on the ballot this fall is Initiative 591. This initiative makes it illegal for any government agency to confiscate guns or other firearms from citizens. I-591 would also bar any expansion of background checks unless a national standard for gun control is set.

Both initiatives, according to The Elway Poll have received popular support. Since it is more than likely that both measures will pass, the supreme court will have to step up its game.

If Washington does succeed in implementing universal background checks, it would be following in the footsteps of Colorado, New York and a few other states.

Carbon Tax- B.C. to Washington

Posted by at Jul 02, 2014 03:20 PM |

This post was written by our summer engagement intern Amulya Cherala.

Cartoon by Rex F. May

With rising carbon emissions, Washington and Oregon are taking some tips from their friendly  Canadian neighbor, British Columbia. Many concerned lawmakers are pushing for a carbon tax in hopes that the impact of green house gases on the environment decreases. Carbon tax is always a tricky issue. Lawmakers believe a state-level model of the carbon-tax could serve as an example for a federal model and encourage national support of the tax. But how much should the tax be? How do you decrease the burden of a tax for those who can't afford it?

Washington's Plans

Legislators in Washington are giving the carbon tax a push forward by implementing three major developments that ensure the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions:

1. Under Jay Inslee's bill an evaluation of current efforts to cut carbon emissions in Washington State and elsewhere would be conducted. This evaluation would be used by a newly created group of legislators who would create an action plan with strategies that provide the most environmental benefit to the state.

2. A University of Washington economist recently filed a ballot initiative that would replicate the British Columbia $30 per metric ton carbon tax while rising at 5% a year. The measure would also decrease sales tax and increase tax exemptions and tax credits. It would also use revenue from the tax to support energy efficiency projects.

3. A carbon tax spread sheet model was also developed to track revenue generation and CO2 reduction from the tax. This model was also used in Oregon's evaluation of its carbon emissions.

Increased carbon emissions are killing the earth.

BUT...Some people are worried...

Regulating CO2 emissions but regulating people seems like it will become a problem in and of itself. With taxes on gasoline people may cross he border for energy sources. Some also believe that a federal tax is a more viable option because it would impose taxes on imports from other countries and would encourage those countries to take on their own carbon tax (a carbon tax domino effect!).

Those who oppose the carbon tax believe that additional policies to directly regulate CO2 emissions threatens the economy because indirect regulations on transportation and land-use may smother the construction industry and other industries.

What Can we Expect?

Our state's ballot initiative is based on British Columbia's carbon tax model and is different from other state-level models. As New York and Oregon figure out their legislation on the carbon-tax, it will be exciting to see what unfolds in the state of Washington.

Get Your Fair On!

Posted by at Jun 18, 2014 12:50 PM |

The 43rd annual Fremont Fair is a celebration of culture and arts which will be taking place from June 20-22. Every year it draws in 100,000 fair goers to one of Seattle's quirkiest neighborhoods. People keep going back for more because its a great way to experience the arts and culture of Seattle!

What can you expect at the fair?

Fair Food : Food Trucks, Food Stands and more Food Trucks!!

Great Local Music:

On both Friday and Saturday, ticket prices are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate or a two-day pass for $35.The Fremont Fair Solstice Concert Series will host several local artists.

Check Out the Main Stage Performances

Friday- June 20th:

The Young Evils, Tacocat, Campfire Ok, Built to Spill

Saturday- June 21st:

Cascadia '10, The Flavr Blue, The Physics, Blue Scholars

Click here to learn about other entertainment at the fair and here to learn about the craft market.

The Fellows!! They're Finally Here!

Posted by at Jun 17, 2014 06:40 PM |
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It's that time of year again! Tomorrow, June 18th, 2014 is the day we finally get to meet the 2014 bus fellows. The fellows are ready to join us at the bus and do some petty awesome local politics work with young Washingtonians and the Bus.

We will kick off the 2014 fellowship with the 2014 Bus Fellows Inauguration which will take place tomorrow at the Wing Luke Museum from 6:00pm-8:00pm.

J O I N  Us There! It's a free, all ages event. Food and drinks are on us!!

What exactly is the Fellowship ? The fellowship is a 10 week long program that trains young leaders to participate in grassroots organizing and promote progressive politics in the Seattle area. The fellowship is an intensive program and aims to empower young leaders with the skill sets needed to go make change in their own communities and hopefully even the world!

We're all pumped to see what great things our fellows do this summer and can't wait to see you all celebrate their arrival with the Bus at the Wing Luke Museum tomorrow evening!!

Historic Vote on 15 Dollar Minimum Wage

Posted by at Jun 17, 2014 06:10 PM |

This blog post was written by our summer Bus Intern Amulya Cherala.

The plight of low wage workers has been put on the shelf for far too long and Seattle's push towards better pay has been an important step forward in recognizing the problems these workers face. On June 2nd, 2014 the Seattle City Council approved the $15 minimum wage. This vote serves as a milestone decision and gives hope to many low wage workers in other cities around the United States where income inequality is hindering their daily lives and driving them to poverty.

What does it mean now that Seattle has approve the 15 dollar minimum wage?

Currently, low wage workers in the United States struggle to pay bills and provide for their families because they don't make enough money to account for those costs. Some people believe an increased minimum wage will be good for Seattle's economy  and will lift thousands out of poverty. However, others worry that it puts a lot of stress on small business owners and reduces the number of  jobs because higher wages would force employers to try and compensate for labor costs.

SO...what is Seattle doing to address these concerns?

Seattle is the first major city to take such swift action in addressing the issue of income inequality. Still, the city is taking  the aforementioned concerns into account by implementing an incremental plan. Starting April 1st, 2014 the minimum wage will increase to either $10 or $11 depending on the employer. City council members have worked hard to reach a compromise which they feel "recognizes the harm caused by stagnant wages and the harm to local businesses should [they] move forward too quickly."

The hope is that the increased minimum wage will give low wage workers some room to breathe. Although there will continue to be conflicting views and many challenges , there is no denying that the organizational efforts of those who were part of the increased minimum wage movement were successful. Their victory will serve as an example for many cities and states across the country. San Francisco is already following in the footsteps of Seattle. Last week, San Francisco's mayor proposed a measure that, if approved by voters in the fall, would increase the city's minimum wage to $15 by 2018.

Amulya Cherala, the newest MOVEr and shaker at the (WA) Bus!

Posted by at Jun 04, 2014 05:44 PM |

Amulya Cherala is an International Affairs and Chinese major at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She was born in Bellevue, Washington and moved to Hyderabad, India, living there for seven years before moving back to the Pacific Northwest in  2005.  Experiencing Indian culture first hand, living in the U.S., and traveling in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East has given her a better understanding of global issues and challenges. In San Antonio, she is involved with MOVE (Mobilize Organize Vote Empower), the newest affiliate of the Bus Federation Civic Fund. As engagement intern, she plans to increase volunteer engagement and get the youth more involved in local politics.

Thought Citizens United Was Bad? Meet McCutcheon.

Posted by at May 15, 2014 03:16 PM |
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This blog post was written by former Bus Intern Isabella Fuentes, Junior extraordinaire at Ingraham High School in Seattle.

January 21, 2010 was a pretty awful day for democracy. On that hallowed day, our Supreme Court handed down their decision on Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Committee, a ruling that opened the floodgates for corporate money in political campaigns. The Supremes (no, not these Supremes, although they go about as far back) said that political contributions were a form of free speech, and that the FEC couldn't restrict the amount of money a corporation (which is defined for legal purposes as a person) spent independently on a campaign, since that would be restricting their free speech. This decision was denounced by many Americans who reasoned that money is not speech and corporations are not people. Pretty simple, right?

But then came April 2, 2014. The SCOTUS handed down the decision for McCutcheon vs. Federal Elections Committee, which takes everything bad about Citizens United and makes it 500,000 times worse (approximately). While Citizens United struck down corporate contribution limits, McCutcheon removed the aggregate cap that individuals can spend directly on an election. This means that while the $2,600 maximum that an individual can donate to a single candidate remains in effect, the overall cap of $123,200 is removed.

The court was divided in classic 5-4 style, identical to their vote on Citizens United 4 years ago. The conservatives (Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and swing vote Kennedy) argued that the cap on direct individual donations doesn't prevent corruption and is essentially meaningless, while the liberals (Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan) dissented. In a rare and powerful display of significance, Justice Breyer read his dissenting opinion from the bench on the day of the decision. His blistering opinion stated that this decision "eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve."

In the expensive and polarized political landscape of today, the McCutcheon decision is incredibly relevant and holds major repercussions for future elections. Taken together, Citizens United and McCutcheon create major loopholes where donors can funnel millions of dollars to parties or campaigns.

The 2014 Midterm Elections: presented by The Monopoly Man (source)

The extent of the influence that the money has on elections is questionable. Karl Rove's Crossroads PAC and nonprofit spent a combined $400,000,000 on the 2012 election, more than even the RNC. The flush-with-cash PAC and nonprofit saw 1% and 14% success rates, respectively.

Overall, however, it's undeniable that McCutcheon will add a new dimension to our nation's already questionable and porous campaign finance laws. Look to the 2014 midterms and 2016 general elections to see how the latest influx of money will affect your elections. In light of Citizens United, McCutcheon, and a host of other campaign finance laws, it's important to know that the United States government is of the people, by the people, and for the people; not of the millionaires, by the 1%, and for the corporations. Our Supreme Court would do well to remember that.

Last week: CRAY. This week: Gif Big, Give Bus!

Posted by at May 05, 2014 10:50 AM |

This week's comic about GiveBig was created by Bus intern and content lead of the Hella Bus Blog, Sophie Reingold.

Want more information? First, check out Amber's run-down of all things Gif Big, Give Bus, then click here to learn more about The Bus and GiveBig! Or click here to make a donation on Tuesday, May 6th!

GiveBig! GifBus!

Posted by at Apr 29, 2014 05:40 PM |
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#GiveBus raises $4000! on Make A Gif

#GiveBus raises $1500 on Make A Gif

GiveBus $500 Milestone! on Make A Gif

Today, May 6th, your gift to the Bus will grow BIGGER and BUSSER! All donations to the Bus via the Seattle Foundation website will grow thanks to GiveBig!

Make A Gift!

When you make a donation to the Bus on GiveBig, your gift is stretched by The Seattle Foundation. That means for every dollar you donate, the Bus gets even more: your gift literally grows bigger. For every fundraising milestone we reach, the Bus will share specialty .GIFs throughout the day!

Simply click here and select a personally meaningful donation amount to #GiveBus on Tuesday, May 6th. We invite donations of all sizes and appreciate all your support. Once you've donated, change your social media picture with the image below, share the link with your friends, and stay tuned for our milestone GIFs.

Be a GiveBus Ambassador!

Interested in contributing in other ways? Be a GiveBus Ambassador and commit to sharing GiveBus with 4 of your friends, family, and network. Create your own GifBus GIFs with the hashtag: #givebus. Have more ideas?  Email Amber to get involved.

Proposition 1 Fails: The Repercussions

Posted by at Apr 25, 2014 02:59 PM |

This comic about Proposition 1 was created by new Bus intern and content lead of the Hella Bus Blog, Sophie Reingold.

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