► In today’s Olympian — Issue of taking on less debt keeps lawmakers in town — The question of whether to tighten restrictions on state debt continues to hold up approval of a bipartisan state construction budget. It kept roughly $1.3 billion in bonds from coming to a House vote this week. With lawmakers’ 30-day overtime period more than half over, the debt limit is just one of the roadblocks in front of the exits. Lawmakers are also stymied by details of the more than $5 billion in cuts and transfers that need to be made in the operating budget, and what to do to rein in the cost of workers’ compensation benefits. Republicans and sympathetic Senate Democrats are holding the budgets hostage until they get their wish list.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Wondering why the Legislature is STILL in session and may have a second overtime session? Because your State Senate is holding the operating and capital budgets hostage to try to force the House, against the will of the Democratic majority, to cut $1 billion from the safety net for injured workers and to lower the state debt limit (and kill thousands of desperately needed construction jobs, in the process). For more info, read Rep. Hans Dunshee’s column posted yesterday at The Stand: Lowering debt limit would kill 70,000 jobs.
► In today’s News Tribune — Democrats take aim at ending bank tax breaks — Some Democrats said they’re throwing their political weight behind a bill to fund K-3 class-size reductions by ending a tax preference for banks. The measure passed out of a House committee Wednesday, and the Democrats plan to do whatever it takes to get the controversial measure to a floor vote.
► At Publicola — Bill repealing bank tax exemption moves out of committee — It would raise an estimated $143 million during the 2011-2013 biennium.
► In today’s Columbian — Attempt to end tax break for out-of-state shoppers — Vancouver merchants opposed the provision, saying it would discourage their Oregon customers from crossing the river to shop in Vancouver.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Laws ready state for federal health reform — Washington will stay in the forefront of federal health care reform, and could save as much as $26 billion over the next decade, with a half-dozen bills signed into law Wednesday.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Higher education cuts mortgage our state’s future (Aaron Katz column) — Proposals on the table in Olympia will cut $500 million from Washington’s higher-education system, on top of more than $770 million in cuts over the last two years. That will drive student tuition to 65% or more of college costs, the exact reverse of the ratio between tuition and state support that existed only 15 years ago.
► In today’s Olympian — Gregoire gives Thurston chamber hopeful message — The message was that the state has a bright future, partly because of international trade and growth at regional port districts, the state’s aerospace industry and the potential for more business, and recent bills signed into law that should aid businesses.
EDITOR’S NOTE: It absolutely true that this has already been a great session for business, but as Brendan Williams points out today in The Stand, they aren’t done yet: Business groups running up score in Olympia.
DON’T FORGET… THIS SATURDAY:
► In today’s News Tribune — Stamp Out Hunger one jar of peanut butter at a time (Helen McGovern column) — This week our community has an opportunity to join together to drastically increase the amount of food available to our neighbors in need. Saturday is the 19th annual National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger food drive. This is the largest annual food drive in our community, providing a simple way to join together to see that no person in Pierce County goes hungry.
► In today’s Seattle Times — 25 UW students arrested at sit-in over food vendor — Police arrested about 25 students Wednesday evening after an hourslong sit-in at Gerberding Hall, first in the president’s office, then in a conference room. They came demanding interim President Phyllis Wise sever a contract with global food-services provider Sodexo, alleging it has a history of abusing workers’ rights, something Sodexo denies. Sodexo employees have said the company uses intimidation tactics to discourage unionizing, and that outside the U.S., it also denies workers breaks or full pay, according to reports by Human Rights Watch and TransAfrica Forum, two human-rights organizations.
► In today’s Columbian — Local teachers face job uncertainty — Facing uncertainty as Olympia haggles over details of a two-year state budget sure to impact school funding, Clark County school districts has begun distributing non-renewal notices to hundreds of certificated teachers.
► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Union files new unfair-labor charge against Kitsap Mental Health Services — SEIU has filed a new unfair-labor charge against KMHS with the NLRB, alleging the agency wrongfully terminated an employee because she engaged in union activity and refused to sign a 2009 petition circulated among employees requesting KMHS withdraw union recognition.
BIG OIL NEWS:
► At Politico — Democrats, oil executives face off at hearing — Senate Democrats and the heads of the five biggest private oil companies faced off Thursday in a showdown over efforts to repeal billions in annual industry tax incentives amid rising industry profits, gas prices and the federal debt. Democrats have pointed to roughly $35 billion in earnings from the five biggest oil companies in the first quarter of 2011 as justification that their federal incentives are not necessary. Republicans oppose repealing the oil industry tax breaks and accuse Democrats of holding the hearing just to score political points.
► In today’s Washington Post — How much do oil companies really pay in taxes? — The Center for American Progress says Exxon Mobil’s effective federal income tax rate is about half the 35% standard for U.S. companies. The liberal-leaning think tank, citing Exxon Mobil’s SEC filings , says the corporation didn’t pay any federal income tax in 2009.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Also see the April 28 posting at The Stand — Exxon profits fuel fire over Big Oil tax breaks
► At AFL-CIO Now — New Hampshire Gov. Lynch vetoes ‘right-to-work’ bill — Gov. John Lynch (D): “There is no evidence that this legislation will offer any benefits to New Hampshire’s economy or workers.” The bill passed the state Senate by a veto-proof majority but fell short of a super majority in the House, where a close override fight is expected.
► At AFL-CIO Now — AFL-CIO still vigorously opposes Columbia trade deal — The labor federation will continue to vigorously oppose the proposed free trade agreement with Colombia so long as the “horrifying levels of labor and human rights violations in the country” continue.
► In today’s NY Times — Republicans propose more spending cuts — Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), the top Democrat on the spending panel, assailed the Republican proposal as irresponsible, saying it would necessitate “draconian” cuts to college aid, early childhood education, food safety, law enforcement, public health and national infrastructure.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Murray bill would make job training mandatory for U.S. troops — For the first time, U.S. troops would be required to enroll in a federal job-training program before they’re allowed to leave the military. Sen. Patty Murray’s Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 is aimed at reducing a 27% unemployment rate for veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
► At WashingtonPost.com — At town hall, federal worker losing her job confronts Obama — A federal employee who is on the verge of losing her job confronted President Obama about her status during a CBS News town hall meeting broadcast Thursday morning.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. Make this electronic “clip service” your first stop each morning! These links are functional on the date of posting, but sometimes expire.