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Privatization, debt limit compromise, Big Oil ♥’s GOP…



►  In today’s Olympian — Legislators making progress on debt-limit talks — As the monthlong special session enters its fourth week, the House and Senate are inching toward each other on the question of how much debt the state should be allowed to take on. And the Senate’s bipartisan coalition has taken a step back from its demand to privatize the state printer, motor pool and other services. But it’s unclear how close legislative leaders are to reaching a deal on the main sticking point preventing an accord on a state budget: the Senate’s demand to allow injured workers to take a lump-sum payment to settle claims against their employers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What The Olympian characterizes as “a step back from its demand to privatize the State Printer…” remains a wholesale junking of the competitive bidding process for contracting out state services, one that does not allow state employees to compete to retain their jobs and one that actively promotes privatization. This bill, SB 5931, was fast-tracked through the Senate, circumventing the normal committee hearing process, and advanced in its current form within 24 hours of its introduction in its revised form. For more info, see yesterday’s posting at The Stand — 3 Dems join GOP in pushing privatization.

►  At Publicola — State House committee passes compromise on debt limit — The capital budget committee took action Tuesday on a sore subject: passing a Senate bill that lowers the debt payment limit on capital budget bonding. Three Democrats and three Republicans voted for the legislation, including reluctant committee chair Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-44). The compromise would lower the debt limit from 9 to 8.5 percent of the General Fund (instead of 7% as proposed by the Senate) and also take a little longer to get there, waiting until 2018 rather than 2016, as the Senate wanted.

►  In today’s Kitsap Sun — House, Senate negotiate over ferry bill — The Senate on Tuesday put off action on a 25-cent ferry surcharge and an overhaul of ferry management in favor of more behind-the-scenes talks with the House.  The Senate disagrees with House revisions dealing with unions for ferry captains and other labor issues.

►  In today’s Seattle Times — Will Washington’s public college students pay more tuition for less quality? (Brendan Williams column) –The “Higher Education Opportunity Act” is a well-intended effort at triage. However, I fear the “opportunity” will be the opportunity to keep paying more to get less. In voting for Tim Eyman’s Initiatives I-960 and I-1053, limiting the Legislature’s ability to increase those things called “taxes,” voters surely didn’t intend that students be the victims of tax-and-cut budgeting. Yet they are.




►  In today’s (Everett) Herald — Teachers from county school districts lecture lawmakers on budget cuts — About 1,000 teachers, parents and students showed up to a meeting with state legislators Tuesday evening in the Cascade High School gym to express concerns about crowded classrooms, school budget cuts and what many see as disrespect for their work.

►  In today’s Yakima H-R — YVCC staff, faculty agree to pay cuts to save jobs, programs — To save jobs and programs, the faculty and classified unions at Yakima Valley Community College have agreed to a two-year, 3% pay cut.




►  In today’s (Everett) Herald — Governor steers $3 million to train 500 aerospace workers in state — Gov. Chris Gregoire said the training should help the unemployed, veterans and low-income adults to develop skills needed by the state’s aerospace industry. The funding will also ensure “our aerospace workers have the cutting-edge skills needed to design, build and maintain the aircraft of tomorrow — helping our 650 aerospace companies grow and create new jobs,” she said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: See today’s report at The Stand — Gregoire commits $3M to aerospace training




►  At Publicola — Republicans block Senate bill on ending oil tax subsidies — On the U.S. Senate floor Tuesday, Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell both spoke in favor of the bill to end tax breaks for big oil companies. Those loopholes total an estimated $21 billion over 10 years. But Republicans blocked the bill by filibustering and preventing the Democrats from reaching 60 votes to consider the legislation. The vote was 52-48.

►  In today’s NY Times — Senate refuses to end tax breaks for Big Oil — The Senate on Tuesday blocked a Democratic proposal to strip the five leading oil companies of tax breaks that backers of the measure said were unfairly padding industry profits while consumers were struggling with high gas prices.

►  In today’s NY Times — What’s good for workers (editorial) — The refusal by Congressional Republicans to renew assistance for workers who lose their jobs to overseas competition is another instance of their callous determination to slash the budget at the expense of the most vulnerable Americans. It is also bad for American business and other constituents dearer to their hearts.

►  At TPM — Is the new Republican “Super PAC” legal? — The latest plan for a “Republican Super PAC” by Republican lawyer James Bopp, the man behind the Citizens United case that allowed for unlimited corporate campaign spending to influence elections, clearly violates federal law according to good government groups, and they’re warning GOP members they’d be breaking the rules if they solicit unlimited contributions on behalf of the group.


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