Budget ‘magic,’ home-care arrests, GOP superdonors…
► In today’s Olympian — House Democrats’ budget avoids tax increase– It does this by lopping $81.6 million of state support for local governments, delaying a chunk of K-12 public school funding into the next budget cycle, and assuming 1,554 fewer employees on the state payroll. The new proposal (HB 2127) had a public hearing Tuesday, could be voted upon as soon as this afternoon in the House Ways and Means Committee, and may get a floor vote in the House as soon as Friday.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — GOP fantasy can’t remove bitterness of budget realities (Shawn Vestal column) — One of the big money-savers in the Republicans’ fantasy budget amounts to a 9% pay cut — give or take – for every state worker, not counting the “critical” ones. This is presented as 24 furlough days – an unpaid month off — for state workers. It’s hard to understand how, say, a modest capital gains tax would be horrible for the economy, but slashing the income of 100,000 workers will be OK. Not to mention the loss of services. Not to mention the difficulties that could arise in collective bargaining. But that’s the great thing about a fantasy. It doesn’t have to adhere to the physics of the real world. You can just talk about it come election time.
► At Spokesman.com — People dying without health insurance, panel told — Said Jaydra Cope, an Eastern Washington University social work student: “People are dying.” Her brother was one of them. Cope was testifying in support of a House bill that would require basic plans in Washington state to cover more services than the minimums required by the federal government.
► From AP — Senate releases proposed transportation budget — Both chambers’ plans fall well short of Gregoire’s call for an infusion of $3.6 billion in transportation funds over the next decade. The centerpiece of her plan was a $1.50 fee per barrel on oil refined in the state. “We need to get our economy stronger before we ask for more revenue,” said Senate Transportation Committee Chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island).
► In today’s Seattle Times — House weighs bid to use tax rise to refinance Wenatchee arena
► CHECK OUT 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 Columbian — Several arrested at protest of state in-home care service cuts — A dozen protesters affiliated with the SEIU occupied the state Office of Administrative Hearings in Vancouver and staged a sit-down strike at closing time Tuesday to protest recent state cuts to in-home care. Effective Feb. 1, DSHS cut of eight hours per month for certain Medicaid clients. The cut means home care providers lose work hours, which affects their overall income.
► In today’s Daily News — ILWU turns up heat on prosecutor in bid to help protesters fight charges– The longshore union is stepping up pressure to get protesters off the hook for criminal charges stemming from the labor strife at the EGT grain terminal, even accusing Cowlitz County Prosecutor Sue Baur of threatening to harm protesters.
► In today’s Daily News — Group pushing E-Verify hits wall in Wahkiakum County — A county commissioners meeting Tuesday became a shouting match when strongly worded testimonies from a group seeking restrictions on employing illegal workers prompted an accusation of racism.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Lynden Darigold plant running at 60% capacity after fire
► At Fitsnews.com — Boeing to S.C. Gov. Haley: “Stop saying that”– S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley frequently invokes the names of some of her state’s largest and most well-known manufacturers — at which point she states that these companies have served notice to the rest of the nation that “unions are not welcome here.” Boeing officials say that their company has repeatedly asked Haley to stop linking the aircraft manufacturer to such rhetoric — to no avail.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing use of Export-Import Bank can fly at cross purposes – The collision between the interests of the nation’s largest airline and one of its largest manufacturing companies illustrates the trade-offs facing the country as leaders weigh how to create a more durable economic recovery.
► In today’s NY Times — Tax-cut bill includes changes to jobless benefits — The bill allows states to use UI money for programs that help move the jobless back into the work force by offering employers wage subsidies for taking on and retraining jobless workers; requires states to reassess U.I. eligibility of workers, for instance, confirming recipients are actively searching for a job; and expanding “work sharing” programs that can help reduce layoffs at big businesses.
EDITOR’S NOTE — And, oh yeah, it cuts the maximum duration of benefits from 99 to 74 weeks. (See paragraph 17 of this story.)
► In today’s LA Times — Obama wants to cut corporate tax rate to 28% — The president wants to significantly lower the top corporate income tax rate to 28% as part of a broad overhaul that would raise an additional $250 billion from businesses over the next decade by eliminating many loopholes and other breaks. Full details of the administration’s long-awaited corporate tax reform plan will be released later this morning.
► At Huffington Post — Corporate tax reform: Be careful what you wish for (Jared Bernstein column) – Everyone loves the first part of the mantra: lower the rates. Now let’s see how the feel about the second part: broaden the base.
► At The Hill — K Street pessimistic about highway bills — Labor groups supporting the $109 billion, two-year Senate transportation bill thought it could get through the upper chamber. Now they’re not so sure. Meanwhile, in the House, GOP leaders retreated from plans to hold a vote last week on their bill.
► At Politico — Feds fret over underfunded corporate pensions — Federal officials have assumed responsibility for hundreds of troubled pension plans in recent years. Those takeovers could accelerate as baby boomers start to retire, with taxpayers potentially needing to pay tens of billions of dollars to keep the private plans alive.
► At AFL-CIO Now — From Fargo to Findley, locked-out workers journey for justice — Locked-out workers from American Crystal Sugar and Cooper Tire will begin a 1,000 mile Journey for Justice today from Fargo, N.D., to Findlay, Ohio. The journey will highlight the corporate greed that marks their lockouts, and the growing drive by corporate CEOs to drive down wages and benefits to pad their own pockets.
ALSO at The Stand — Help USW call out Cooper Tire greed Feb. 25 in Puyallup
► At AFL-CIO Now — Workers in SoCal car washes win first contract — Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “The headline should read: ‘Carwash workers make history in LA.’ The labor movement and Los Angeles community stand shoulder to shoulder with them and their brother and sister carwash workers across LA who are working to follow in their path.” (More coverage in today’s LA Times.)
► At Huffington Post — Restaurant workers target diners in living-wage campaign — A New York-based organization released a Zagat-style “Diner’s Guide” to the nation’s restaurants last fall. But rather than critique the food, the guide details working conditions, listing whether workers receive decent pre-tip wages or sick days. Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and others, received a frowny-face rating, which the group says denotes “alleged illegal practices.”
► In today’s NY Times — Hershey’s packer is fined by OSHA for safety violations– After an investigation prompted by the protests of student workers on an international exchange program, the DOL issues fines of $283,000 for health and safety violations against a company that operates a plant in Pennsylvania packing Hershey’s chocolates, saying it had covered up serious injuries to workers.
► In today’s NY Times — In Republican race, a new breed of Superdonor– About two dozen individuals, couples or corporations have given $1 million or more to Republican super PACs this year, an exclusive club empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and other rulings to pool their money into federal political committees and pour it directly into this year’s presidential campaign. Collectively, their contributions have totaled more than $50 million this cycle, making them easily the most influential and powerful political donors in politics today. They have relatively few Democratic counterparts so far, with most of the leading liberal donors from past years giving relatively small amounts — or not at all — to the Democratic super PACs.
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