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Budget signed, CRC killed, fire fighters mourned, jobless targeted…

Monday, July 1, 2013




open_sign► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Governor signs budget in time — Gov. Jay Inslee signed a new two-year budget on Sunday, averting a government shutdown that state officials had been planning for in case the new spending plan wasn’t in place by the end of the weekend.

► In the News Tribune — Legislature passes budget, not much else — The two parties in the Legislature produced a long-overdue budget that infuses new money into education and won more support than any other spending plan in recent years — but not before their disputes brought the state to the brink of a government shutdown. The seeds for the showdown were planted six months ago when two Democrats crossed over to help Republicans take over the state Senate.

► In today’s News Tribune — Several tax breaks extended in state budget deal — In a year Gov. Jay Inslee and other Democrats took aim at so-called tax “loopholes” to help raise money for public schools, the state Senate and House are about to leave Olympia having approved several new or extended tax breaks, while agreeing to close only two.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — $1 billion more for schools may not be enough in court’s eye — Washington’s public schools are in line for a much-needed infusion of money from the state, but it may not be enough to get the Supreme Court to ease off lawmakers to do more.

CRC-front► In the Seattle Times — $10B transportation plan dies with end of session — Lawmakers adjourned their second overtime legislative session without Senate action on a $10 billion transportation package despite intense lobbying from business groups and Gov. Jay Inslee. Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said he and his colleagues were unified in their opposition to the plan this session.

► In the Columbian — CRC meets demise as Legislature adjourns — The Columbia River Crossing is dead. After intense political wrangling, tens of millions of taxpayer dollars spent, and a controversy that embroiled Clark County for the better part of a decade,  Washington Republican-controlled Senate delivered the fatal blow to the beleaguered project Saturday.

► In the Oregonian — CRC implosion invites lessons, closure, new plans — Columbia River Crossing managers will begin closing the project Monday, ending assignments for 96 workers and consultants in a Vancouver office.

► In the Spokesman-Review — Legislature passes construction budget on session’s final day — The House and Senate passed a $3.6 billion spending plan for large capital construction projects with large majorities from both parties. In less than an hour, legislators adjourned their second special session and headed home.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Slouching toward Olympia (editorial) — During the regular and two (!) special sessions, bipartisanship was trumpeted by insiders and even editorial scribes. In practice, ideology and partisanship, especially in the Senate, supplanted pragmatism. (What became of the historic business-Republican alliance for transportation? Wither aerospace?) The Senate majority coalition’s learning curve gobbled up valuable time.

► In the Olympian — Lawmakers get ‘C+’ for budget, ‘F’ for process (editorial) — It shouldn’t have taken state legislators six months and two special sessions to agree on a budget for the 2013-2015 biennium. Senate Republicans took the usual level of brinksmanship over petty policy bills to new and unproductive highs this year.




fast-against-deportations► In today’s Seattle Times — National fast for immigration overhaul arrives in Seattle — A national campaign of fasting among day laborers, domestic workers and other immigrants in the country illegally has been rolling through American cities since May Day and arrives in Seattle on Monday.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Labor joins immigration reform fast Tuesday

► In the Oregonian — Daimler truck workers set to strike, picket Swan Island plant — Union workers at Daimler Trucks North America’s Swan Island plant plan to strike just after midnight Sunday and expect to picket around the clock at the manufacturing facility.  The move comes after two of the four unions representing plant workers (IAM 1005 and IUPAT 1094) voted Saturday to reject a contract offer from the company. About 725 union members work at the plant, which builds the Western Star truck line.

► In Sunday’s Seattle Times — Hospitals reward CEOs for profit over quality care — Across the state and nation, boards at nonprofit hospitals are often paying bosses much more for boosting volume rather than delivering value. Such deals undermine measures in the 2010 health law that aim to cut unnecessary treatment and control costs, say economists and policy authorities.

► In today’s Columbian — Struggling Skamania County seeks federal support — A county budget slashed from $50 million to $25 million in three years. A hundred permanent and temporary county employees laid off. A reduction to a four-day work week, providing only bare-minimum services.




Arizona-firefighters► In today’s Arizona Republic — 19 firefighters die in Arizona wildfire — Nineteen firefighters, including 18 from the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots of Prescott, died Sunday fighting an out-of-control wildfire in Yarnell. “We are devastated. We just lost 19 of the finest people you will ever meet,” Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said Sunday night. “We’re going through a terrible crisis right now.” It is the worst firefighting tragedy ever in Arizona and the worst wildland firefighting tragedy in U.S. history since 1933.

► In today’s Washington Post — House takes up immigration reform to uncertain, perilous prospects — The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Sunday that any attempt at comprehensive immigration legislation cannot offer a “special pathway to citizenship” for those in the United States illegally. That approach could block the GOP’s hopes of ever winning the White House, the top Democrat in the House predicted.

► At AFL-CIO Now — States move to restrict voting rights following Supreme Court ruling — Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in the Shelby County v. Holder case striking down a portion of the Voting Rights Act, several states immediately took steps to increase voter suppression efforts.

► In the Seattle Times — Voting Rights Act ruling a legal assault on a basic right (editorial) — Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote for the 5-4 majority, blithely argued times had changed. His words were mocked by Texas, which immediately announced it would impose voter-ID laws, which were challenged by the Justice Department last year, and a redistricting plan previously blocked by federal court as discriminatory against Hispanics.

sally-field-you-like-me► In the Business Journal — Favorability ratings up for both business and labor unions — Occupy this: Most Americans now have a favorable view of corporations, according to a new survey by Pew Research. The survey found that 55% of Americans have a favorable view of business corporations, compared with 39% who have an unfavorable view of them. Two years ago, 52% of Americans had an unfavorable view of corporations. The survey also found that 51% of Americans now have a favorable view of labor unions, up from only 41% two years ago. The most promising sign for the labor movement is that 61% of Americans under 30 view unions favorably. Only 51% in this age bracket view businesses favorably.

► In today’s NY Times — Paid via card. workers feel sting of fees — A growing number of American workers are confronting a frustrating predicament on payday: to get their wages, they must first pay a fee.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Fly the flag — and the union label — this July 4th — As you head to the stores to stock up on July 4th supplies for the summer’s top cookout event, celebrate a Made in America, union label Fourth. Check out our union-made list…




unemployment-insurance-big► In today’s NY Times — War on the Unemployed (by Paul Krugman) — There’s a nationwide movement under way to punish the unemployed, based on the proposition that we can cure unemployment by making the jobless even more miserable. A number of states have cut unemployment benefits and Congress has been allowing extended benefits introduced during the economic crisis to expire, even though long-term unemployment remains at historic highs. The move to slash unemployment benefits is counterproductive as well as cruel; it will swell the ranks of the unemployed even as it makes their lives ever more miserable.

► A related story from AP — North Carolina become first state to eliminate unemployment benefits — With changes to its unemployment law taking effect this weekend, North Carolina not only is cutting benefits for those who file new claims, it will become the first state disqualified from a federal compensation program for the long-term jobless.


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