Dueling budgets, AFL-CIO blasts Obama, health freedom…

Monday, April 8, 2013




► At TheNewsTribune.com — WFSE warns legislators Senate budget carries risks to government function, public safety and safety net — The Washington Federation of State Employees and other labor groups reacted with a mixture of relief about pay and worry about healthcare after the Senate released its Republican-crafted budget, but the WFSE also notified Senate members that $131 million in unspecified “administrative efficiencies” could lead to “higher workloads, diminished customer service, further erosion of public safety, and the closure of parks and hatcheries.”

► In the Seattle Times — Why state Senate Democrats voted for a budget they didn’t like — The Republican-driven proposal throws an additional $1 billion into basic education, without additional taxes, but also has cuts Democrats rail against, including reduced spending on services for the working poor and disabled. The reality is, he said, that a couple of conservative Democrats likely would have crossed party lines to help Republicans pass a budget anyway. But some Democrats decided to become more involved to get a seat at the bargaining table.

► In the News Tribune — Lawmakers warned of possible park closures — The Senate budget would provide $16.4 million for parks in the 2013-15 biennium — more than 20% below the current state infusion and more than 80% below the peak of general-fund help for parks in 2007-2009.

► In The Olympian — Inslee injects some integrity into state budget (by Brendan Williams) — Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget priorities are a game-changer for a state long content to let government, and the essential services it funds, atrophy.

ALSO at The Stand — Inslee budget ideas show ‘bold leadership’

► In today’s News Tribune — Moneytree’s giving grew prior to beneficial proposal — Seattle-based payday lender Moneytree and its executives funneled nearly $200,000 into state lawmakers’ 2012 campaigns — with 98% of that money going toward Republican candidates — just months before a proposal emerged in the Legislature to create a new type of high-interest consumer loan.

► From AP — Lavish state retiree medical plan imperils budgets — While local governments around the country have dealt with debilitating budget problems in recent years, a Washington state retirement system created decades ago for now-veteran public servants has added particularly daunting burdens for some jurisdictions. Those governments are struggling to manage costs for the most lavish medical plan possible, in which every expense is covered by taxpayers with no support from premiums, deductibles or even copays.

► From AP — Late pay raises spike pension benefits — Local officials seeking to cut their budgets approved late pay increases to incentivize retirements for LEOFF-1 participants. Those alterations shifted local costs to the state, saddling the taxpayer-funded pension system with millions of dollars in liabilities.




► In the (Everett) Herald — NLRB sides with SPEEA charge against Boeing, calls hearing — Even with labor contracts in place, the Boeing Co. still is in hot water for actions by the company during negotiations with the union representing engineers and technical workers.




► In the Tri-City Herald — DOE cuts furlough time for 1,800 at Hanford — The Department of Energy is cutting the furlough time for about 1,800 Hanford workers from five weeks to one week. However, the 235 mostly union workers who were laid off because of sequestration in March will not get their jobs back.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Hospital in Monroe to seek voter OK for tax increase — Valley General Hospital says it needs the levy increase to continue to provide its current health care services, including emergency room and in-patient hospital care. Ballots are being mailed to voters in Monroe, Snohomish, Maltby and the U.S. 2 towns of Sultan, Gold Bar and Index.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Vote yes!

► In the NW Labor Press — Loren Parks to back ‘right-to-work’ (for less) initiative in Oregon — The first 1,000 signatures have been submitted on a “right-to-work” initiative for the November 2014 ballot. The initiative, dubbed the Public Employee Choice Act, would remove any requirement that public employees pay union dues or any share of the costs that unions incur to represent them.




► At Huffington Post — Obama budget proposal cuts are ‘unconscionable,’ AFL-CIO says — On Saturday, organized labor quickly made good on its promise to oppose a White House budget that includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare, with the AFL-CIO labor federation ripping the president’s expected proposal with unusually tough language in an email blast to activists.

► At AFL-CIO Now — President Obama’s budget cuts Social Security and Medicare — The so-called “chained” CPI will cut Social Security benefits and middle-income seniors (people who made $47,000 a year and more) will be asked to pay higher Medicare premiums. Not only do the majority of America’s workers across the political spectrum oppose benefit cuts to the social insurance system, this is bad policy that will slow economic recovery even further.

► In today’s Washington Post — Obama to propose $35 billion in federal retirement program savings — A senior administration official indicated the budget savings would come through increased charges to federal employees for their retirement benefits.

► In today’s NY Times — Pay gap widens for college faculty — As states cut back their support for public institutions, the gap between the pay scales at private and public universities is continuing to grow, a new report finds.




► In today’s NY Times — Insurance and freedom (by Paul Krugman) — It’s hard to think of a proposition that has been more thoroughly refuted by history than the notion that social insurance undermines a free society. For all our talk of being the land of liberty, those holding one of the dwindling number of jobs that carry decent health benefits often feel anything but free, knowing that if they leave or lose their job, for whatever reason, they may not be able to regain the coverage they need. Over time, as people come to realize that affordable coverage is now guaranteed, it will have a powerful liberating effect.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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