The Stand

State shutdown averted, GOP vs. commerce, ‘Let’s Stay Together’…

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Friday, June 28, 2013

 


STATE GOVERNMENT

 

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► In today’s Olympian — With budget deal in hand, lawmakers expected to vote Friday — Budget negotiators in the House and Senate reached a handshake agreement on an operating budget Thursday morning, and Gov. Jay Inslee said the pending deal can avert the shutdown of many state services that would have begun Monday. The Senate was poised to start voting on the $33.5 billion budget as early as Friday morning. Inslee and leaders in the Senate and House all said they intend to wrap up the budget before state workers leave at 5 p.m. for the weekend. “We will be notifying state employees to report to work Monday, July 1,” Inslee said in a statement that he read at a late-morning press conference. “Government operations will not be interrupted. All government functions will be in operation Monday. Washington will be at work Monday.”

► At WFSE.org — Budget compromise mostly good news

► In today’s Columbian — Sales tax exemption survives in budget plan

► In today’s News Tribune — Transportation tax approved by House in second vote — Supporters of raising the gas tax by 10½ cents a gallon picked up two votes Thursday, enough to push their proposal to pay for roads, buses, ferries and the like through the state House. But prospects are uncertain in the Senate. Sen. Tim Sheldon, who is part of a mostly Republican coalition in charge there, said he doubts the Senate would take up the plan.

► In today’s Columbian — On 2nd try, House approves potential funding for CRC — The package would raise enough money to pay Washington’s $450 million contribution toward the Columbia River Crossing project. It now heads to the Senate, which is controlled by conservative lawmakers less likely to embrace a tax increase.

WSLC-agenda-investing► MUST-READ in today’s News Tribune — State commerce in grip of GOP (editorial) — The job’s not done yet, lawmakers. Now it’s highway time. The Republican Party’s current anti-tax absolutism threatens serious damage to Washington’s economic future. That mindset has to give if the state GOP is to be taken seriously as a potential governing party. The loss of the transportation package would be inexcusable — and Republicans will bear full responsibility for the consequences.

► From AP — House OKs suspension of teacher raises — The state House has passed a measure suspending cost-of-living raises for teachers over the next two years. The chamber passed the bill late Thursday night on a 54-36 vote. It now goes to the Senate. The cost-of-living adjustments were spelled out in Initiative 732, which has been suspended several times.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Thanks, teachers, now shut your traps (by Shawn Vestal) — Once again, the mask of “educational reform” has slipped to reveal its real face: anger toward teachers. Rep. Liz Pike, a Camas Republican, is the latest to let her sneering anger show through the mask. Pike posted a Facebook rant that quickly made the online rounds this week in which she nastily and sarcastically insulted teachers who want a cost-of-living raise.

 


IMMIGRATION REFORM

 

► From AP — Immigration focus on House after Senate OKs bill — Attention is shifting to the House and its conservative majority after the Senate passed a landmark immigration bill opening the door to U.S. citizenship to millions while pouring billions of dollars into securing the border with Mexico. The bill’s prospects are highly uncertain in the Republican-led House, where conservatives generally oppose citizenship for immigrants living in the country unlawfully.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — ‘Big step closer’ to true immigration reform

H-1B_layoffs► In today’s NY Times — A bill allowing more foreign workers stirs tech debate — Silicon Valley companies, warning of an acute labor shortage, say it is too costly to retrain older workers and that the country is not producing enough younger Americans with the precise skills the industry needs. Their arguments have persuaded a majority of senators to give them what they want: a provision in the immigration bill to let in many more foreign professionals. But many Americans and the powerful labor lobby say that what the tech industry really wants is to depress wages and bring in more pliant, less costly temporary workers from overseas. If there is such a talent shortage, they ask, why are wages for most engineers not rising faster? Labor groups have pushed for a requirement to offer jobs to equally qualified Americans before hiring foreigners, a provision that the industry has fiercely resisted.

► In today’s NY Times — Immigration reform, finally (editorial) — The failure of immigration reform would be a disaster, but it can be avoided if House Speaker John Boehner gives Republicans and Democrats the chance to vote on comprehensive reform. There is a strong chance that if he does so a good bill could pass.

► At TPM — McCain gently warns House GOP: We’re doomed if you screw up immigration reform — The Arizona Republican is a crucial figure in the reform effort — a member of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators that struck the deal that formed the foundation of the legislation. Much has been made about the GOP’s death spiral with Hispanic voters, the country’s fastest-growing demographic, which resoundingly voted for Barack Obama twice.

► In today’s Washington Post — Know who wants Republicans to pass immigration reform? Major Republican donors — One voice lost in this battle over what the right, next move is on immigration for the party?  The major donors of the party who serve as the bundlers of presidential campaigns and the funders of super PACs. And, those big check-writers have a very clear preference: They want a deal done.

 


SEQUESTRATION

 

► At Politico — The sequester’s long, slow burn — So far the era of sequestration has meant furloughs for more than 800,000 federal workers and entire agencies shuttered for days — and those were the easy cuts. There are nine more years of budget austerity to go and that means the federal government must dig in much tougher places to find savings — like forcing early retirements for workers and winding down grants that fund scientific research and allow states to keep infrastructure up to par.

► Last week, Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) took to the floor of the U.S. House to urge passage of a long-term budget to replace the across-the-board sequestration cuts that are killing jobs — especially in Washington’s 6th District — and harming our nation’s military readiness. It’s worth five minutes of your time.

 


NATIONAL

 

► In today’s Washington Post — State pension funds face larger-than-usual funding gap — Moody’s said its calculation shows that states had just 48 cents of each dollar promised to current and future retirees in 2011. Currently, states report that they have 74 cents of each dollar owed to retirees.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington State fares relatively well in this report. Moody’s says Washington has pension liabilities totaling 32.7% of revenues, which ranks the state 34th in the nation (with 1st being the worst/most underfunded).

► In the Fiscal Times — Health care CEO’s $159 million pension raises eyebrows — John Hammergren, the CEO of McKesson Corp., has the distinction of looking forward to one of the wealthiest retirements in corporate history–a record-breaking $159 million pension. Not only that, the 54-year-old is one of the highest paid execs, earning more than — wait for it — $50 million a year from a health care business services company that’s ranked 14 on the Fortune 500 list.

 


SUPREME COURT

 

► At AFL-CIO Now — Don’t forget that the Supreme Court just allowed workplaces to become more hostile — While the focus in the past week has been on Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage, voting rights and affirmative action, two other rulings released this week have made it easier for employees to be harassed in the workplace and reduced the legal recourse those workers have to end harassment. In two separate 5–4 rulings, in which the conservative justices sided against workers, the court made it harder to take recourse against a supervisor who is harassing a worker, and made it easier for bosses to punish workers who complain about discrimination.

► The cover of The New Yorker

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► MUST-READ column in today’s NY Times — The Up-in-the-Air President (by Timothy Egan) — This week was historic, as the most activist Supreme Court in at least 40 years continued to rewrite the laws of the land. Under Chief Justice John G. Roberts, the court has done far more to change daily life than the president, or those inert sluggers in Congress. In contrast to all this life-changing, work-defining, election-shaping Big Stuff, President Obama continues to give limp speeches and moan about how he can’t get anything done with a Congress of Neanderthals and talk-radio spawn. An activist court, a passive president and a feeble Congress — such is the current balance of power.

 


T.G.I.F.

 

► In this week of historic progress in America for marriage and commitment, The Entire Staff of The Stand presents the Rev. Al Green singing “Let’s Stay Together” at the Apollo Theater’s 50th Anniversary Concert in 1993. Enjoy!

 


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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