‘Coup’ mythbuster, Affordable Care Act, labor politics…
► In Sunday’s Seattle Times — Budget coup that really wasn’t (Danny Westneat column) — The 25 senators who wrested control from the liberals last weekend have spent months arguing that they could balance the budget with mostly pain-free prescriptions such as “resetting priorities.” No need for accounting gimmicks, they said. Or cuts to the state’s top priority, education. Most of all, there’s no call for new taxes, because there’s plenty of fluff yet to cut.
But when they got control for eight hours to pass their own budget, they failed to live up to any of the rhetoric. This budget included its own gimmick — a skipped payment into the pension system. Worse, it cut both public schools and the state’s university system, two things the budget hawks earlier had insisted wouldn’t be necessary.
Mission not accomplished. Why wasn’t it? Because the myth is stale. It turns out there are no easy, low-hanging cuts left. Republicans who had been promising them for years finally got their chance and could not produce them.
► In today’s Olympian — Special session begins in Olympia, but with limited agenda — Gov. Gregoire says she has agreements from Washington lawmakers to stick to a limited agenda in the special session that starts at noon Monday. The biggest chore is breaking the political stalemate over closure of a $1 billion budget gap. The other big piece is a jobs plan that could pump $1.2 billion in state money into school construction, community projects and environmental cleanups across the state, spurring 22,000 jobs. Related to the capital-construction proposal is a new debt limit that voters would be asked to write into the state constitution on Nov. 6.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Legislature braces for remaining budget work — The Legislature must return Monday to find revisions to the general fund budget that can pass both chambers, and approve a separate budget for major construction projects the state will back.
► From AP — Transportation budget passes, but reckoning awaits — In the end, by scrapping a contentious $8 annual charge to RV owners going toward state parks, lawmakers agreed on a supplemental transportation budget with minutes to spare in the 60-day regular session.
► In the (Everett) Herald — State transportation budget raises fees, avoids ferry cuts — While lawmakers didn’t solve the state’s budget problem they did approve a handful of new and higher fees to avert cuts in ferry service and give cash-strapped transit districts a little financial assistance.
► From AP — Judge says he needs time to decide I-1053 lawsuit– A King County judge said Friday that he will need time to decide whether a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Initiative 1053, which requires a supermajority of the Legislature to raise taxes or close tax loopholes, should go forward.
► In the Kitsap Sun — Rep. Angel will not run for Congress — State Rep. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) announced she will not run for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks. Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) has announced that he intends to file for the position.
► At HeraldNet.com — Boeing engineers to vote on board positions — SPEEA/IFPTE 2001 will vote this week on union leadership positions, including its president, treasurer and secretary.
► In the Bellingham Herald — Deadline looms for decision on splitting or keeping Whatcom County’s emergency medical service
► At Politico — Affordable Care Act faces its biggest test — In two weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the case that could lead to the biggest “I told you so” of 2012. The challenge to President Obama’s health care reform law will result in the court either upholding it — giving bragging rights to Obama and congressional Democrats — or finding major pieces of it unconstitutional, setting off a political earthquake that would vindicate Republicans and conservative groups.
► At TPM — How Affordable Care Act could quash GOP dream of privatizing Medicare — In a development with potentially profound implications, researchers writing in the New England Journal of Medicine believe that the growth in per patient Medicare costs has slowed, contrary to earlier projections that spending would soar at an unsustainable rate. More importantly, the researchers believe this trend will hold over time, thanks largely to the Affordable Care Act’s sweeping cost-control policies.
► At TPM — Affordable Care Act’s many benefits (by Kathleen Sebelius) — We have every reason to believe the Supreme Court will (agree with lower court rulings that it is constitutional). And that’s good news because by protecting the law it will also be protecting the care of countless Americans who are already being helped by the law’s new benefits, protections and tax breaks.
► In today’s NY Times — Labor leaders plan to apply new clout in effort for Obama — As the AFL-CIO prepares to endorse President Obama on Tuesday, labor leaders say they will mount their biggest campaign effort, with far more union members than ever before — at least 400,000, they say — knocking on voters’ doors to counter the well-endowed “super PACs” backing Republicans.
► In the LA Times — Labor unions rethinking their role in politics — The influential AFL-CIO almost certainly will endorse Obama for reelection, but many unions are increasingly financing their own efforts instead of writing large checks to the Democratic Party and its candidates.
► At Politico — Federal workers under siege– In the past year alone, congressional Republicans have turned to the federal workforce to help pay for everything from a payroll tax cut to jobless benefits to a transportation bill. Trimming the federal payroll is also at the heart of two bills to stave off deep across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect next year.
► From Gannett — Wisconsin unions rally against Gov. Walker, bargaining law — Thousands of pro-union demonstrators descended on the state Capitol on Saturday to voice their anger at Gov. Scott Walker and his conservative agenda. They used the first anniversary of the passage of his signature collective bargaining law to rally support for efforts to remove him and five other Republicans from office.
► In Variety — Labor looks to SAG-AFTRA — With U.S. labor unions under constant conservative fire, the proposed merger of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is being closely watched within the labor movement as a measure of how unions react to the changing landscape.
► At Huffington Post — Dying for work (by USW President Leo Gerard) — Every day, 12 workers die on the job in America — often because a corporation has defied regulations or ignored standard safety procedures. Many more die prematurely from work exposure to toxic materials.
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