► At Publicola — Gregoire takes on ‘Reform Before Revenue’ mantra— The governor busted the state Republicans’ “Reform before revenue” mantra (which is shared by the Roadkill Caucus of corporate Democrats). She took the Republican reform recommendations one by one and said “How much are you gonna book against the $2 billion shortfall? … I’ll tell you what you’re gonna book: Nothing.”
Her most exasperated answer came when I reminded her about one of the GOP’s big reform recommendations: Making state employees cover as much of their health care costs as their counterparts in the private sector. She said: “I’m happy to [make workers pay as much for health care as they would] in the private sector when they’ll pay state workers what they would earn in the private sector.”
► But then there’s this… In today’s Olympian — Gregoire trial balloon: Privatize Lottery — She wants the Legislature to approve having the lottery solicit proposals from private vendors to run the operation to see if they could operate the lottery’s various games more efficiently and earn more money for the state.
► This morning from AP — WA one of 9 states to earn early learning cash — Washington will share $500 million in grant money won in a high-profile competition intended to jumpstart improvements in often-overlooked early childhood programs. Washington will get up to $60 million from the grant, according to Sen. Murray’s office.
► From AP — Proposal would change initiatives— A bipartisan group of lawmakers proposes requiring ballot measures to have their own funding sources. They have expressed frustration with voter-approved laws that require spending, with no way to pay the bill. An SEIU spokesman says his union would be interested, as long as there were similar restrictions for measures cutting the budget. For example, if an initiative eliminates a tax or funding source, the proposal would have to detail an area to cut.
► At SeattlePI.com — Challenger’s wrap on Cantwell: She’s unmarried — State Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) took out after Sen. Maria Cantwell for signing a letter critical of an Obama administration decision overruling the FDA on Plan B, the “morning after” birth control pill. Baumgartner argued that Cantwell lacks qualification to be heard on the issue in that she is unmarried and has voted to “undermine the role of parents in child rearing.”
► In today’s Olympian — McKenna falls short on vow to reduce lawsuit payouts (editorial) — Don’t be surprised if critics weigh McKenna’s gubernatorial promises against his failed promise to reduce tort payouts.
► In today’s Wenatchee World — NCW postal plant gets two-month reprieve— The area’s mail processing center, now threatened with closure, could stay open an extra two months as Congress decides the financial fate of the U.S. Postal Service. The USPS has announced it will put off until May 15 plans for closing nearly half of its mail processing plants across the country — including those in Wenatchee, Yakima and Pasco — in efforts to trim a projected $14 billion budget shortfall in 2012.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — New timeline changes little for Yakima mail center — That’s because the Yakima mail processing center was slated to close in July 2012, not March.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — State agency sides with Everett firefighters in complaint against city on overtime — The state Public Employment Relations Commission has ruled against the city of Everett for refusing to bargain with the firefighters union over the past two years about issues surrounding workload and overtime.
► In today’s News Tribune — Number of civilian jobs at JBLM to decline into 2012— The base lost 80 civilian positions this fall, and more reductions are likely over the next year among the roughly 2,000 civilians who work for the Installation Management Command.
► At TPM — Shutdown averted as Dem, GOP leaders hash out deal on payroll tax cut, UI extension — On the payroll tax bill, Democrats have officially dropped their push for a small surtax on millionaires as one means of offsetting the cost of the bill, so most of the cost of the bill will likely be paid for with budget cuts agreed to in Super Committee negotiations.
► In The Hill — Dems, allies firmly reject Paul Ryan’s new Medicare reform plan — Under the proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Medicare would subsidize premiums charged by private insurers. Democratic lawmakers, the White House and healthcare interest groups took a hard line against the proposal.
► In today’s NY Times — Disagreement over payroll tax cut’s impact on Social Security — Politics aside, the bottom line is that a temporary tax cut is inconsequential to Social Security’s long-term health, from an accounting perspective. The threat remains the financial pressure of an aging population.
TAKE A STAND! –Tell Congress to extend jobless benefits now!
► At Politico — Poll: Jobs priority over wealth gap— A new Gallup poll finds 82% of those surveyed said it was “extremely” or “very” important for the government to improve the economy, while 46% of Americans said it was important to enact policies to trim the income and wealth gap.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Recall Walker signatures pass 500,000 mark — Volunteers need 540,000 signatures by Jan, 17, but are aiming to gather another 250,000 to offset expected dirty tricks and challenges from Walker’s supporters.
► In today’s NY Times — U.S. finds pervasive bias against Latinos by Arizona sheriff
► At AmericanEconomicAlert.com — Korea starts spinning KORUS already — Well THAT didn’t take long! The ink is barely dry on the recently signed Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and the word is already coming from the Koreans not to expect any significant increase in U.S. automotive sales to their long closed market — even though the auto provisions were a major selling point to Congress.
► In today’s LA Times — China slaps tariffs on big U.S. vehicles as trade tensions rise — China imposes duties of as high as 22% on large U.S. cars and SUVs, alleging dumping and improper federal subsidies. It’s the latest salvo in the trade war comes as both countries face political showdowns at home next year.
► In today’s Washington Post — U.S., China embroiled in a trade dispute over chicken feet — The Chinese move to add a 100% tax on U.S.-imported “chicken paws,” raises an interesting legal question: How can the United States be dumping an item at below cost in China when that item is considered virtually worthless at home?
EDITOR’S NOTE — We should have seen this coming when Hilary Clinton started short-selling her chicken feet futures on the commodity exchange.
► But don’t fret! In today’s LA Times — Port of Los Angeles sets record for exports — More U.S. goods than ever are shipped to foreign destinations, helped by a weak dollar and a strengthening manufacturing sector.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. These links are functional at the date of posting, but sometimes expire.