Friday, March 1, 2013
► From AP — Washington Supreme Court strikes supermajority for taxes — A divided high court ruled 6-3 that an initiative requiring a two-thirds requirement for tax increases was in conflict with the state Constitution and that lawmakers and the people of Washington would need to pass a constitutional amendment to change from a simple majority to a supermajority. Democrats said potential taxes need to be part of the conversation in Olympia, but Republicans in the House and a Republican-dominated majority in the Senate said they would work to keep the two-thirds vote requirement.
ALSO at The Stand — WSLC’s Jeff Johnson: Court decision ends ‘tyranny of the minority’
► MUST-READ in today’s Spokesman-Review — If supermajorities govern, a minority rules (by Jim Vestal) — The supermajority has created a superminority in Olympia. It has, in a very real way, changed the fundamental nature of our government to satisfy a single principle. If we can do that, Justice Susan Owens asked in the majority opinion, why not go further? Why not a 75% requirement for tax increases? Why not an 83% majority requirement for cutting mental health care services? Why not a 92.7% requirement for road construction projects? Wrote Justice Owens: “Such a result is antithetical to the notion of a functioning government and should be rejected as such.” Presuming that what we want is a functioning government, that is. I’m not sure everyone does.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Which brings us to…
► In today’s Seattle Times — Raising state taxes now easier, but politically harder — Ironically, Democrats have been fighting for years to get the court to overturn the requirement, first put in place in the early 1990s, then repeatedly reimposed. Now that they got their wish, they no longer control the Legislature. They control the House, but Republicans took over the Senate this session, for the first time since 2004. Senate Republicans on Thursday vowed to keep taxes at bay.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Which brings us to…
► In today’s Olympian — Hands off the pensions (editorial) — George W. Bush and Paul Ryan learned what Sen. Rodney Tom has apparently forgotten: People don’t like politicians messing around with their retirement plans. Tom wants to end fixed-benefit pensions for new state workers, those younger than age 45, and move them into defined contribution plans. It is curious that the senator made the pension proposal without any fiscal analysis. Tom doesn’t know if his plan would save the state any money, or whether it might actually drive up state costs. The Tom proposal is a radical and controversial approach to state pension reform that requires much more fiscal analysis and review by all parties involved before it can be taken seriously as legislation.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Of course, none of this logic stopped the right-wing ideologues on the Seattle Times editorial board from opining in favor of Tom’s proposal to end pensions.
► At Washington Policy Watch — House Democrats refuse to schedule votes on family leave, sick days — Two top Democrats are refusing to schedule votes on Family and Medical Leave Insurance (HB 1457) and Paid Sick Days (HB 1313) bills being considered by their committees. Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) chairs the House Finance Committee, which is considering family leave; Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina) chairs the House Appropriations Committee, which is considering paid sick days.
► At Huffington Post — States without personal income tax experience slower growth, report finds — The report, from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, found that between 2002 and 2011, the economies of the nine U.S. states without a personal income tax grew 37% less quickly per capita than states with high income taxes.
► In today’s Columbian — Lockout’s ripple effects felt — A sense of anticipation and dread settled over the standoff between United Grain Corp. and union dockworkers at the Port of Vancouver on Thursday, with the company’s managers taking on cargo-handling duties as locked-out union members expected replacement workers to be brought in soon from out of state.
ALSO at The Stand — ILWU: Mitsui planned lockout in Vancouver
► In the (Longview) Daily News — Federal judge rejects ILWU suit against Cowlitz County officials — Calling the actions of EGT grain terminal protesters in the summer of 2011 “thuggery,” a federal judge has tossed out union dock workers’ civil-rights lawsuit against four Cowlitz County law enforcement officials. Union attorneys say they will appeal.
► In today’s Olympian — Union delivers strike notice to Providence St. Peter — The union that represents several hundred workers at Providence St. Peter Hospital put the hospital on notice Thursday afternoon, telling the hospital the union is set to go on strike in 10 days if the two sides can’t come to agreement about a new health care plan for hospital employees.
ALSO at The Stand — Providence workers may strike over health cuts
► At WSLC’s YouTube page — Nurses speak out against sequester cuts
See more nurses discussing the impact of the cuts here.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hanford workers in limbo as sequestration cuts start today — Hanford contractors have told their employees they don’t know what to expect with forced budget cuts, called sequestration, that are set to start today. However, some employees might get news soon of layoffs or unpaid leave.
► In today’s (Aberdeen) Daily World —Republicans in Congress are holding federal purse hostage (by John Warring) — If Congress is really serious about deficit reduction, they will focus on putting Americans back to work. In the meantime, our economy cannot afford to keep lurching from one Republican hostage crisis to another.Our economy cannot afford to keep lurching from one Republican hostage crisis to another.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Republicans continue hostage crisis — Republicans led the charge to defeat a Democratic plan that would have eliminated the across-the-board sequestration budget cuts, which the CBO has estimated would cost 750,000 jobs. The bill — defeated 51-49 (it required 60 votes for passage) — would have replaced the cuts, in part, with additional tax revenue from millionaires, including adopting the “Buffett Rule.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — If Democrats had insisted on the “talking filibuster” rule, Republicans would be forced to spend this weekend (and longer) talking on the Senate floor about why they think killing jobs is such a great idea. Instead, they get to block the Senate majority from fixing this mess and they head home for their never-ending Blame Obama Tour.
► In today’s Washington Post — Congress heads out as sequester blows in — One day before automatic spending cuts were due to hit the Pentagon and other federal agencies, Congress on Thursday abandoned efforts to avert the reductions and left town for the weekend. The sequester is here, and policymakers have no plans to end it.
► In today’s NY Times — Boehner halts talks on cuts, and House GOP cheers — Speaker John A. Boehner has come around to the idea that the best negotiations are no negotiations, and House Republicans are cheering that decision. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said that he thought the sequester spending cuts were a welcome development for which Boehner deserves credit.
► At Politico — Big business on sequester: Zzzz — President Obama is warning of economic catastrophe if deep and immediate spending cuts hit. Yet some of the most influential business organizations are adopting a decidedly blasé attitude, staying largely silent on the matter.
► At Politico — Unions aim to soften sequester’s impact on workers — Union leaders have been working furiously to persuade federal agency managers to make other cuts that won’t affect employee paychecks. But if agencies do insist on furloughs, unions say they can bargain over when they take place and other terms that could help workers in financial trouble.
► In today’s Washington Post — Federal furloughs could lower leave benefits, but probably not retirement
► At Huffington Post — Sequestration repeal pushed by progressive House Democrats — The idea to simply repeal the sequester isn’t entirely new. Progressive Democrats have been floating the proposal in recent days, and the AFL-CIO labor federation issued a statement on Wednesday urging Congress to wipe the slate clean and regroup.
ALSO at The Stand — AFL-CIO calls on Congress to repeal sequester
► In the Seattle Times — Boeing’s apology tour (by Jon Talton) — Boeing exec Ray Conner traveled to Japan and reportedly apologized to airlines for continuing problems with the 787 Dreamliner. I’m waiting for the Jim McNerney apology tour in America. It might go something like this: “To Boeing’s shareholders, customers, vendors and, especially, employees, I’m deeply sorry that we… attempted to build the world’s most advanced airliner on the cheap, with an untested and reckless outsourcing program that led to repeated delays, finally grounding, and putting the very future of the company at risk… To our employees in the Puget Sound, I owe a special apology. I’m sorry we moved the headquarters to Chicago. The hot dogs are superior, but otherwise the company’s top executives are too far removed from the critical commercial airplane business and from Asia. I’m sorry we made a hash of the outsourcing that you now have to fix. I’m sorry we tried to deflect accountability that rightly rests with management decisions by blaming our unionized workers and set up an assembly in South Carolina to punish and intimidate them…” (bows deeply here toward machinists, engineers and technical workers, whispering reverently, “No nerds, no birds” several times.)
► From AP — Boeing cuts back on contract workers in S.C. — Boeing is trimming the number of temporary contract workers employed at its South Carolina assembly plant. The company says the reductions have been planned for some time and have nothing to do with battery problems in its 787 jetliners.
► In today’s Washington Post — Workplace bullying gets higher profile as movement grows to limit workers abuse — Half the employers in a 2011 survey by the management association reported incidents of bullying in their workplace, and about a fourth of human resource professionals themselves said they had been bullied.
► In today’s NY Times — Home care rules in the home stretch (editorial) — It will be a great injustice if minimum-wage and overtime protections for home care workers are not approved by the Obama administration.
► For no reason in particular, the entire staff of The Stand presents “Silver Lining” by Rilo Kiley — featuring the wonderful and awesome Jenny Lewis as the runaway bride. More triangle, baby! More triangle!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.