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State GOP demands pension cuts, national GOP wants Medicare cuts…



► In today’s Seattle Times — Republican lawmakers won’t budge on pension-overhaul plan— As the Legislature slogs through its special session, Republicans show no sign of backing down from proposed pension-system changes that public employees call a “war on workers.” Senate Republicans want to skip a $133 million payment toward funding older, closed pension plans for teachers and state workers and to tie that move to provisions ending early-retirement options for new employees. Even if negotiators can reach a budget agreement without skipping the pension payment, Republicans still want to eliminate the early-retirement options this session, said Sen. Joe Zarelli (R-Ridgefield).

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Tri-City advocates cry foul about Gregoire holding bills— Tri-City advocates claim Gov. Chris Gregoire wrongfully is holding the developmentally disabled as political hostages to put pressure on budget negotiators. On Tuesday, Gregoire announced she would continue to hold off signing several bills until lawmakers pass a budget.

► At Slog — Passing I-502 would generate over half a billion dollars per year — The state’s Office of Financial Management has issued a preliminary fiscal note on the financial implication if voters pass I-502 this fall. The long and short of it: Taxing and regulating the marijuana industry would generate — including excise, B&O, and retail taxes — an annual revenue of roughly $564 million to $606 million in the first full year of legalization.

► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Transportation Commission proposes most people’s tolls jump by $1.25




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Stanwood outsources fire, EMS operations — Starting April 1, the North County Regional Fire Authority will provide fire and emergency medical services in Stanwood city limits. Since the economy tanked, many communities in Snohomish County have regionalized police and fire services to save money and share resources. There are more talks of mergers and partnerships under way.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — City Council votes down proposed labor deals for police, fire — Citing economic pressures, the Yakima City Council has rejected contracts for police officers and firefighters that would have added more than $1.5 million in labor expenses over the next three years.

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — SSA adds details to Gateway Pacific Terminal proposal for Cherry Point — SSA Marine has provided Whatcom County with more details on its plans for the coal and bulk cargo pier the firm hopes to build.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Aircraft lessors say Boeing’s MAX could snare half the market — Boeing’s 737 MAX can fare well against the Airbus A320neo, despite its later entry and its design challenges, industry heavyweights say.

► At Publicola — Here’s how many jobs you’ll need to afford an apartment at minimum wage — The National Low-Income Housing Coalition has crunched the numbers, state by state and city by city, to figure out how many full-time jobs a person would have to work at minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment.




► At Publicola — Judging the 1st CD candidates by their donors — The sleeper story that emerges from looking at contributions is state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens). He is trailing the pack, but his contributor base looks like a gold mine of corporate PACs — and one that could cut the legs out from a GOP opponent if Hobbs makes it through the primary.




► At AFL-CIO Now — Republican budget: ‘Of, by and for the 1%’ — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “House Republicans have dropped all pretenses and laid out their plan to destroy Medicare and Social Security… The Republican plan would not only keep Bush tax cuts for the wealthy from expiring, but would actually cut taxes for rich people even further… The Republican plan would throw even more money away by giving multinational corporations massive new tax breaks to encourage them to export U.S. jobs overseas.”

► In The Hill — Transport union slams Republican budget — The AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department said the GOP budget would reduce transportation spending from $88.6 billion in the 2012 fiscal year to $57.1 billion in 2013. By comparison, Obama’s budget proposal called for spending nearly $80 billion annually on road and transit projects.

► In today’s NY Times — House GOP lays down marker with new budget plan — House Republicans thrust their vision of a smaller government, a flatter tax code and a free-market Medicare system into the 2012 election season on Tuesday, banking that fears over surging federal deficits will trump longstanding voter allegiances to popular government programs. “By desperately attempting to appease their extreme conservative base, House Republicans are reneging on a deal their own speaker shook on less than eight months ago,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

► In today’s NY Times — The careless House budget (editorial) — The Republican budget envisions an America where the rich pay less in taxes than the unfairly low rates they pay now, while programs for the poor — including Medicaid and food stamps — are slashed and thrown to the whims of individual states. Where older Americans no longer have a guarantee that Medicare will pay for their health needs. Where lack of health insurance is rampant, preschool is unaffordable, and environmental and financial regulation are severely weakened.

► At TPM — ‘We have the votes to pass this budget,’ says GOP’s Ryan — “We have the votes,” the budget architect, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), told reporters. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) predicted the budget resolution would receive “a strong vote of support” when it hits the House floor next week.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Will Washington’s Republican Congressional delegation again unanimously vote with their party’s right-wing extremist leaders in the House? Stay tuned.




► In today’s NY Times — ‘Right-to-work’ bills face uncertain future in election year — After costly, bruising political showdowns with union forces last year in Wisconsin and Ohio, Republicans in some state legislatures are facing a tugging match within their party — between passionate conservative members and a more moderate bloc not sure it is wise to take on labor so directly now.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Home-care workers need labor law’s protection — The nearly 2 million home care workers — about 92% of whom are women — who take care of the elderly and people with disabilities often work 12-hour days and 60 to 70 hours a week. But they are seldom paid overtime and their net income is often less than the minimum wage. Unlike workers covered by federal labor laws, they are not paid for all the hours they are on the clock, witnesses told a U.S. House hearing Tuesday.

► In The Hill — Dems plan to introduce $109B highway bill in House — The move, which is intended to highlight the House GOP’s inability so far to agree to its own highway bill, follows a decision by House Republican leaders to shun the Senate’s measure in favor of a short-term extension of highway funding.

► In today’s NY Times — Justices limits suits filed over Family Leave Act violations — By a 5-to-4 vote that split along ideological lines, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that state workers may not sue their employers for money for violating a part of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.




► At TPM — Government jobs buoyed Bush’s economy, and sunk Obama’s — An enduring impediment to President Obama’s economic recovery has been the erosion of public-sector employment, driven largely by layoffs at the state and local levels. This wasn’t a problem recent Republican presidents faced. Total government expenditures (federal, state and local) grew under Reagan and the two Bush presidents much more than it has under President Obama.

To date, government cutbacks have led to 590,000 public-sector jobs losses under Obama. That falloff is finally slowing, but it hasn’t reversed, and locked in austerity measures suggest it won’t any time soon. At this point in Bush’s first term, by contrast, he’d benefited from 716,000 public-sector jobs gains. And over his first full term he benefited from 900,000 gains, almost fully offsetting private-sector jobs losses.


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