HIGHER EDUCATION NEWS:
► In today’s News Tribune — College Board won’t extend layoff authority — Washington’s two-year colleges won’t be able to fast-track faculty layoffs, for now. A “financial emergency” declared by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges expires June 30. The emergency declaration makes it easier for the schools to lay off tenured faculty. Board members had been considering extending it another two years. But on Thursday the board tabled the issue, deferring it indefinitely. The vote was 5-0, with two members absent. The teachers unions that represent faculty pushed hard against the declaration. They said it had hurt morale at the only college that had used it, Tacoma’s Bates Technical College. Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson, a member of the community college board, pushed for the other board members to table the declaration: “It certainly gives college presidents a big budget hammer, but it is detrimental to the sense of community that holds our colleges together.”
► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Board approves tuition increases for state’s community colleges — The tuition-setting body for the state’s other community and technical colleges approved a 13% tuition increase for full-time students and an 11% increase for part-time students next year.
STATE GOVERNMENT NEWS:
► At ESD.wa.gov — Washington’s average wage increased in 2010 — Washington’s average annual wage increased in 2010, due in part to the toll the recession took on lower-paid workers. The 2.1% increase pushed the average annual wage to $48,162. That’s an average weekly wage of $926. That means that the minimum weekly unemployment benefit, calculated at 15% of the average weekly wage, will increase by $3 to $138, for new claims opened on or after July 3. The maximum weekly benefit will increase by $13, to $583.
► In today’s Columbian — Sen. Pridemore named chairman of audit panel — The Vancouver Democrat has been named the new chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, which conducts performance audits, program evaluations, sunset reviews, and other analyses of state programs.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Caterpillar hub to bring in jobs — The Caterpillar heavy equipment company announced Thursday that it will open a half-million-square-foot distribution center in Spokane County that will employ 100 to 150. A company spokesperson said most of the workforce will be blue-collar “warehouse associates” and that wages and benefits for the nonunion jobs will be determined by a survey of the local labor market. Says Gov. Gregoire: “I thank Caterpillar for their confidence in Washington state, and pledge to work with the company to ensure future success.”
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — DOE must make safety paramount at Hanford (editorial) — The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has been following up on questions raised a year ago by a whistle-blower given a basement desk and little to do after warning a $12.2 billion vitrification plant now under construction might be seriously flawed.
► At Publicola — King County Council’s Patterson “not committed to yes” on Metro fee — Julia Patterson, a Democrat who represents South King County, says she is not committed to a ‘yes’ vote (like the other four Democrats on the council are) on a temporary $20 fee to pay for Metro bus service. Without the fee, Metro faces 17% cuts to service starting in February.
► In today’s News Tribune — Proposed cuts would hurt Tacoma special education programs (guest column by AFT Washington President Sandra Schroeder) — More than 12% of the students who attend Tacoma Public Schools are in special education. Most special education classrooms consist of a certificated teacher and at least one paraeducator. In spite of the crucial role paraeducators play, the school district is planning to reduce the working hours of more than 130 workers by a half-hour a day because of state and federal cuts in funding for education. More than 12,000 hours a year of time spent with disadvantaged, special-needs children will be lost.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee to jump into governor’s race next week — Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee will launch his 2012 bid for governor next week, setting up what promises to be a nationally watched matchup against Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna. Inslee, 60, who has represented Washington’s 1st Congressional District since 1999, will make his announcement Monday morning in Seattle and follow up with a Monday event in the Yakima area, which he previously represented in Congress and the state Legislature.
► In today’s Washington Post — Republicans pull out of debt talks, demand to meet with Obama — Congressional Republicans abruptly pulled out of debt-reduction talks with the White House on Thursday and demanded that President Obama meet directly with GOP leaders to resolve an impasse over taxes. With the clock ticking toward an Aug. 2 deadline, senior Republicans said negotiations led by Vice President Biden had ceased making headway as congressional Democrats pressed for as much as $400 billion in new taxes on corporations and the nation’s wealthiest households.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Remember, House Republicans are threatening to force the United States into default on its debt obligations in an attempt to compel Democrats to agree to cuts in “entitlements” like Medicare and Social Security. In response, the White House agreed to hold these deficit-reduction talks with Republicans to discuss ways to lower the deficit. But the Republicans are now saying any tax increases are off the table and have walked from the talks. Somebody needs to remind these demagogues that the American people elected a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate, and they are in no position to refuse to compromise or to demand anything. Meanwhile, the CBO reports that if Congress does NOTHING, the deficit will disappear.
► In today’s Washington Post — Republican introduces legislation to overhaul USPS — Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) introduced legislation Thursday to restructure the U.S. Postal Service, saying more regulation is necessary to “prevent another taxpayer bailout” of the financially strapped agency. The bill would eliminate Saturday delivery and give the Postal Service greater latitude to close post offices and regional mail processing centers.
► In today’s Washington Post — Obama announces new manufacturing effort — Imagining advances from lighter cars to smarter robots, President Barack Obama is announcing a $500 million project to spur high-technology manufacturing, a sector of U.S. industry that presidential advisers say has lost ground to such competitors as Germany and Japan.
► In today’s NY Times — NJ legislators OK benefits rollback for state employees — New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday approved a broad rollback of benefits for 750,000 government workers and retirees, the deepest cut in state and local costs in memory, in a major victory for Gov. Chris Christie and a once-unthinkable setback for the state’s powerful public employee unions.
► At TPM — Private prisons spend millions to promote incarceration — Private prison companies have helped fuel government policies which lead to an increase in prison population and boost their profits, according to a recent report. The private prison population has grown 353.7% in the past 15 years, according to a study by the Justice Policy Institute. Major private prison companies have an incentive to encourage policies which keep that number on the rise.
► At Publicola — Wal-Mart discrimination: The data — Data show that women at Wal-Mart nationwide are systematically paid less than men, hold lower-ranked positions, and are more likely to be hourly workers instead of salaried — even though the average female worker at Wal-Mart has worked at the company significantly longer than the average male worker.
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.