Public job cuts hurt economy, we’re #6, GOP taxes middle class…
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Inslee reaches out to Tri-City labor — The “virus” of Wisconsin will not be coming to Washington with Jay Inslee as governor, the Democratic candidate said during a visit to the Richland Labor Temple on Tuesday. Earlier this month, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survived a recall election after he took away union rights for most public employees and required them to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits. Washington needs to make sure it values its hard-working middle class, Inslee said.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Tri-City job growth overcomes Hanford losses, but jobless rate ticks up — The Tri-City area saw nonfarm jobs grow by 2,500 compared to May of last year, before about 2,000 Hanford jobs were lost. Despite those gains, the Tri-Cities saw unemployment increase to 9% in May from 8.6% in April. About 12,200 people were out of work and actively searching for a new job in May, 2,210 more than the same time last year.
► Today’s county unemployment coverage — Chelan/Douglas (9.2%▲), Clallam (10.4%▲), Clark (9.4%), Cowlitz (11.2%▲), Grant (10%▲), Jefferson (10%▲), Kitsap (7.8%▲), Okanogan (10.2▲), Pierce (9.5%▲), Snohomish (7.9%▲), Spokane (9.1%▲), Thurston (8.1%▲), Whatcom (7.9%▲), Yakima (10.8%▲)
► In today’s NY Times — Public workers face continued layoffs hurting the economy — Companies have been slowly adding workers for more than two years. But pink slips are still going out in a crucial area: government. since its post-recession peak in April 2009 (not counting temporary Census hiring), the public sector has shrunk by 657,000 jobs. The losses appeared to be tapering off earlier this year, but have accelerated for the last three months, creating the single biggest drag on the recovery in many areas.
► ALSO at The Stand — Which Rob McKenna can you believe?– In his campaign kickoff speech, Republican McKenna said he wants to get rid of more state employees: “Fewer people doing more work — that’s the answer.” With the latest round of 1,266 state employee job cuts, the number of state employees in Washington has already been cut to the lowest level in a decade or more. And that has occurred amid a recession and state population increases — about 1 million more state residents over the past decade — which have combined to create a greater demand for public services. As private sector hiring has picked up in the past year, continuing government layoffs have been cited as a drag on the state and national economies that is prolonging the recession and slowing private-sector growth.
► In today’s Seattle Times — New study dings state for not pre-funding retirees health benefits — The Pew Center report says Washington is among the best states in the nation when it comes to funding government pensions, but fares worse for funding retiree health-care obligations. Any move to eliminate health benefits for retired public employees clearly would run into stiff opposition from unions. “I don’t think legislators should start talking about taking away health benefits for folks who worked their entire lives for this state,” said WFSE spokesman Tim Welch.
► In today’s News Tribune — State parks to seek money to cover pass sale shortfall — Lawmakers cut state parks off of taxpayer money in 2011 when they started requiring the $30-a-year pass to park on state recreation lands. They gave the parks system $17 million in bridge funding, but after mid-2013, parks are due to be entirely dependent on user fees and donations. But with sales of the year-old pass falling short of original expectations, the Parks and Recreation Commission doesn’t want to let go of the lifeline from the state general fund. The board is moving toward asking the Legislature for continued funding.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Average wage rises in Washington state– Washington’s average annual wage, which is used to calculate unemployment benefits for jobless workers, grew by 3.6% in 2011, according to the state Employment Security Department.
► In today’s Olympian — 2011 wages went up, what about 2012 revenues? — The encouraging news comes on the eve of the next state revenue forecast, scheduled for 10 a.m. today.
► In today’s Columbian — Clark County to lose clout at Capitol– Clark County stands to lose considerable clout on the powerful Senate Ways & Means Committee with the departure of Craig Pridemore and Joseph Zarelli.
► At SeattlePI.com — Forbes lists 10 states that will boom: We’re No. 6 — Its bullish evaluation of The Evergreen State is based on “strong aerospace and technology sectors and a vibrant export economy.” The magazine has previously ranked Washington as one of the five best states in America to do business.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Give the Machinists a break (letter by Allan Darr) — The editorial board writers once again hit the International Association of Machinists below the belt with its recent editorial. Months after an agreement was successfully reached, organized labor doesn’t need to be slapped by The Seattle Times for utilizing a government agency and process open to both labor and management.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — More ill Hanford, PNNL workers may be paid– A compensation program for ill nuclear workers won key approval Tuesday to ease rules for $150,000 payments to additional Hanford workers or their survivors.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — BP says pipe failure caused fire at Cherry Point– P says the Feb. 17 fire that shut down its Cherry Point oil refinery near Ferndale was caused by a pipe failure in the crude processing unit.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — No raises through 2014 in contract with salaried city workers approved by council — The Spokane City Council voted 5-0 in favor of a contract for the Spokane Managerial and Professional Association, which represents about 260 city workers.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — BPA chief Steve Wright announces retirement
► In the PS Business Journal — Health care firms target cost-minded ‘consumers’ — To stem rising health costs, more companies are offering their employees insurance plans with dramatically higher deductibles — with more medical dollars coming from policyholders’ own pockets. One of them is Boeing, which just announced that thousands of its nonunion workers will have to choose between accepting a $2,500 deductible or paying a monthly fee to maintain a lower deductible.
► From AP — Poll finds vast support for new health care effort — Americans overwhelmingly want the president and Congress to get to work on a new bill to change the health care system if the Supreme Court strikes down President Barack Obama’s 2010 overhaul as unconstitutional, a new poll finds. More than three-fourths of Americans do not want their political leaders to leave the health care system alone in the event the court throws out the health care law.
► At Yahoo! News — Insider poll: Legal experts now expect Supreme Court to strike down individual mandate — For many legal observers who have worked in the court and argued cases before the justices, the federal government’s defense of the measure in March did not inspire confidence.
► In today’s Washington Post — Middle class would face higher taxes under GOP plan, analysis finds– The tax reform plan that House Republicans have advanced would sharply cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and could leave middle-class households facing much larger tax bills, according to a new analysis prepared by Senate Democrats and reviewed by nonpartisan tax experts. Although households earning $100,000 to $200,000 a year would save about $7,000 from the lower tax rates in the GOP plan, those savings would be swamped by eliminating major deductions. The net result: Married couples in that income range would pay an additional $2,700 annually. Households earning more than $1 million a year, meanwhile, could see a net tax cut of about $300,000 annually.
► At TPM — Democrats re-center Fiscal Cliff debate: It’s about more than defense cuts– Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) is proposing an amendment requiring the administration to report on how the automatic spending cuts set to kick in will affect all facets of government, from defense to social programs. It serves as a competitor and counterweight to a different amendment by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that would require an audit of looming defense cuts alone.
► In The Hill — New offer from Senate Dems in highway talks — Senate Democrats made a new offer for a long-term highway bill to House Republicans on Tuesday as leaders of both parties intervened in the stalled talks in a last-ditch effort to salvage them before June 30, when the authorization for federal highway programs is set to expire.
► In today’s NY Times — Charter schools still enroll fewer disabled students — Charter schools in most states continue to enroll proportionately fewer students with disabilities than traditional public schools, a new government report shows. Critics of charter schools, which are financed with taxpayer money but typically enjoy more autonomy than district public schools, have said the charters skim the best students from their communities and are less likely to enroll students with special needs.
► At AFL-CIO Now — NLRB website outlines rights on nonunion workers to act together — Even if workers are not in a union, they have the right to act together to improve their working conditions. A new website by the NLRB explains those rights and tells workers how to contact the nearest NLRB office if they have questions or believe their rights have been violated.
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