► In today’s (Everett) Herald — State budget challenge drops from $1.5B to $1B — Tax collections, which have been in a freefall for nearly two years, are up $96 million, plus the number of people demanding state services is dropping and will result in $340 million in savings.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Good budget news may push sales-tax proposal off ballot — “It’s not clear to me that something will go to the ballot,” said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, though she did not rule it out. She also held out the prospect of eliminating some tax exemptions to raise money for the budget. Doing so would require a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate. That’s a high hurdle, but Republicans in the House have said they are willing to eliminate certain tax breaks, while the Senate GOP has hinted at that possibility.
► In the Olympian — Lawmakers need to work up courage to dump tax breaks (editorial) — Faced with a severe budget crisis that most certainly will require some additional revenues, lawmakers should embrace the idea of eliminating some of the tax exemptions they’ve authorized over the years, especially the ones that no longer serve a useful purpose. With some 640 tax exemptions on the books, it defies logic to think they are all worth saving to stimulate businesses and jobs.
► At Slog — Some tax breaks have it harder than others — A relatively small tax break designed to encourage filmmaking in Washington expired last year because it actually had an expiration date (unlike a lot of the bad tax breaks). SB 5539 would reinstate the tax break — and cost the state about $7 million every two years in rebates to filmmakers (for filmmaking-related economic activity that’s estimated to bring in ten times that amount every two years).
Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, the bill’s prime sponsor, points out that the Twilight movies that have made Forks famous were actually filmed in B.C. and Oregon: “Even though we benefit from tourists coming to Forks, we don’t get the filming-related jobs here. We don’t get the hotels, and restaurants, and catering, and crew here. We could name film after film after film like that.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — The WSLC supports SB 5539, which passed the Senate 40-8 and awaits its fate in the House.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Marysville teachers use furlough day to protest education cuts — “We’re out here to support public schools and to let legislators know that we’re tired of the cuts,” said Corina Hansen, a first-grade teacher. “The cuts need to end and priority one needs to be quality education for all.”
► In today’s Olympian — House unveils $770 million transportation proposal— House Transportation leaders Thursday unveiled a proposal adding $770 million to the two-year, $9.8 billion budget enacted last year, with most of the funds dedicated to the 520 bridge project.
► In today’s Kitsap Sun — House transportation proposal includes extra money for ferry operations— The Bremerton-Seattle and Southworth ferry routes are tentatively safe for at least three years under a budget proposal unveiled Thursday by the House Transportation Committee.
► SEE the Washington State Labor Council’s Legislative Tracker™ to get status updates on many of the key bills of concern to the WSLC and its affiliated unions. (If your union would like to add a bill of particular concern to the Tracker™, please contact David Groves at email@example.com.)
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Obama to tour Boeing today — The president’s visit comes at a time when business at Boeing is booming. The company added thousands of jobs last year and has plans to increase aircraft production in Everett and Renton.
► At IAM 751’s blog — Machinists honored by White House to hear Obama — Five Machinists Union members who are being honored by the White House for their outstanding community service will attend President Obama’s speech at Boeing’s Everett factory Friday. All five are members of IAM District Lodge 751’s Machinists Volunteer Program who gave more than 500 hours of volunteer time in 2011.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Mayor, exec: Public is protected in plan to build $490 million arena— Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine said the arena could be built just south of Safeco Field with $290 million provided by private investors and $200 million in taxes generated by the arena, but that construction would not begin until the investors are able to secure both NBA and NHL teams.
► In today’s Washington Post — Vote on payroll tax deal likely Friday — Amid some dissent, House and Senate leaders prepared for final votes Friday for an economic package worth more than $150 billion that would extend a payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits for the rest of the year.
ALSO at The Stand — AFL-CIO opposes UI-payroll tax deal that blames wrong people
► In today’s Huffington Post — Sen. Harkin rips Obama for ‘unraveling Social Security’ with tax cut — Harkin said Obama’s payroll tax cut will deprive the Social Security fund of roughly $100 billion.
► In The Hill — Payroll tax cut divides GOP — This will be the first time that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his lieutenants will be voting differently than their Senate counterparts on a high-profile issue in the 112th Congress.
► In today’s National Journal — Romney bashes auto union in Michigan — Campaigning in Michigan, a labor stronghold, Mitt Romney bashed union leaders and their ties to the Obama, calling the bailout of the auto industry payback for the unions’ contributions to the president’s campaign in 2008.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, Captain Tonedeaf Richguy also releases his private sector investment plan for America’s young entrepreneurs: Just ask your parents.
► In today’s NY Times — Moochers against welfare (Paul Krugman column) — There is a strange redness to America’s safety net. Why do the regions that need the helping hand elect politicians who want to tear it down?
► In today’s NY Times — A last-minute deal on teacher evaluations in New York — New York State education officials and the state teachers’ union reached an agreement on Thursday on a new evaluation system.
► Maple Valley’s own Brandi Carlile. Have a nice weekend!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. These links are functional at the date of posting, but sometimes expire.
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