The Stand

GOP+2 yields, bus driver appreciation, low-wage government…

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

 


STATE GOVERNMENT

 

WSLC-13LegReport-Pg1-graphic-sm► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Yielding on transportation (editorial) — Humility is an absent virtue in politics. Last week, the state Senate’s Majority Coalition Caucus (Republicans and two crossover Democrats) expressed a willingness to revisit a state transportation package. Bravo to them — for listening to traffic-addled constituents, to Boeing, to editorial boards and to the business community. Partisan rhetoric notwithstanding, Republicans are taking a meaningful step forward.

Some reforms merit consideration. The state auditor’s recommendation to reform the ferry capital program, for example, and the use of a design-build purchasing process for new auto vessels, have appeal. But no package can be held hostage to a partisan wish list and deal killers such as “an open dialogue on prevailing wage.” Most assume these throwaways were inserted to assuage red-meat caucus members. But keep-em-happy politics can’t be allowed to sidetrack the package goal.

► In today’s Olympian — Report: State revenue collections now $80 million above June forecast — The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council’s monthly report on tax collections says Washington’s treasury grew by $72.6 million more over the last month than was forecast. That brings total revenue collections through Aug. 10 to a cumulative $80 million higher than the last quarterly revenue forecast on June 19.

 


TRANSIT

 

► In today’s Seattle Times — Panic on buses as gunman shoots driver, then fatally shot by Seattle cops — The man who shot a bus driver Monday morning in downtown Seattle and later was fatally shot by police had a history of drug and mental-health problems. The bus driver was OK, but downtown was rattled by the shootings.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Assaults on Metro bus drivers down since 2006 — “Safety is a daily concern for us,” said Paul Bachtel, president and business manager of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587. “But the numbers for these kinds of incidents are dropping because we have a good relationship with the King County Sheriff’s Office and Metro to address this kind of thing.”

ramey-al-ATU587► At Slog — Seattle needs a Bus Driver Appreciation Week — Most drivers are paragons of patience while they keep their eyes on the road and keep their backs to the horrors that menace them from the coach. The roll through the night picking up every crazy person who manages to get to a bus stop, in addition to the regular passengers who vent their lateness on faultless driver and blame drivers for things like creating traffic and snow. But without these patient souls at the wheel, the cogs of the city would grind to a halt. So they deserve to be appreciated.

 


AEROSPACE

 

► In today’s PS Business Journal — Spirit CEO says Boeing may increase 737 production — The CEO of Spirit AeroSystems, which builds Boeing Co. 737 bodies, said Boeing is considering increasing 737 production 12 percent to 47 planes per month, up 38 a month today and up from 42 that Boeing plans to build monthly next year.

 


LOCAL

 

zero-taxes► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver can’t afford to tend streets — The Vancouver City Council was presented with a grim confirmation Monday of what it knew, that it is millions of dollars short on its goals of reconstructing streets, including ones that were built to a rural standard and can’t handle urban traffic. The councilors didn’t make any policy decisions Monday. They are scheduled to set a policy by mid-to-late November on how to best manage long-term transportation needs, including how those needs should be financed.

► And this related story in today’s Seattle Times — Philosophical split in contest to lead state GOP — Some of the contenders to become the next chair of the state Republican Party argue the GOP’s top candidates have flopped in Washington because they weren’t conservative enough.

 


NATIONAL

 

► From AP — IAM claims win over Teamsters in airline election — The machinists’ union said Monday that it defeated a challenge from the Teamsters and will continue to represent mechanics at US Airways. The IAM said that it won the election 1,903 to 1,418, or about 58% to 42%. The election covered nearly 4,600 mechanics and other employees, although many did not vote.

► Today from AP — Government, states challenge proposed airline merger — The Justice Department and a number of state attorneys general on Tuesday challenged a proposed $11 billion merger between US Airways Group Inc. and American Airlines’ parent company, AMR Corp.

jh-USPS-truth► In The Hill — Postal Service officials urge Congress to pass reform legislation — Top USPS officials argued Monday that it remains imperative for Congress to pass legislation, even amid their improving financial situation. Said NALC President Frederic Rolando: “These (latest financial) results make it clear that lawmakers need to concentrate on fixing what’s broken with the Postal Service — including the pre-funding mandate and the governance structure — while strengthening what’s working: The world’s most affordable delivery network.”

► From AP — U.S. budget deficit down 37% through July, CBO says — The government on Monday reported a $97.6 billion deficit for July but remains on track to post its lowest annual budget gap in five years.

► In The Hill — Administration delays ObamaCare caps on out-of-pocket costs — The Obama administration has delayed a key provision in President Obama’s healthcare reform law that would limit out-of-pocket insurance costs for consumers until 2015. The cap, which includes deductibles and co-payments, was supposed to limit consumer costs to $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family. But administration officials have quietly delayed the requirement for some insurers, allowing them to set their own limits starting in 2014.

► In today’s NY Times — New laws, rising costs create a surge of supersizing hospitals — Hospitals across the nation are being swept up in the biggest wave of mergers since the 1990s, a development that is creating giant hospital systems that could one day dominate American health care and drive up costs.

► At AFL-CIO Now — UMWA reaches settlement with Patriot Coal but fight still continues with Peabody Energy

► At Huffington Post — North Carolina Voter ID bill signed into law, sparking lawsuits — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed a bill Monday requiring photo identification at the polls and eliminating a slew of voting measures designed to protect against voter disenfranchisement.

 


TODAY’S MUST-READ

 

Obama-Johnson► In today’s NY Times — The government as low-wage employer (editorial) — In 1965, in a nation torn by racial strife, President Johnson signed an executive order mandating nondiscrimination in employment by government contractors. Now, as President Obama has observed, the nation is divided by a different threat: widening income inequality. He could respond much as Johnson did — with an executive order aimed, this time, at raising the pay of millions of poorly paid employees of government contractors.

Recent studies have shown how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts, grants, loans, concessions and property leases currently flow to companies that pay low wages and provide few if any benefits, even as executive pay among federal contractors has risen. In effect, tax dollars are being used to fuel the low-wage economy and, in the process, worsen inequality.

 


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

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