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Forecasting cuts, Gilead’s ‘real huge value,’ war on voting…

Wednesday, June 18, 2014




revenue-forecast► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Washington state economist offers mixed revenue outlook — Washington’s projected tax revenues look slightly better than they did four months ago, but won’t add enough money to cover some of the state’s expected expenses in the coming years. When the pluses and minuses were plugged into economic models, State Economist Steve Lerch said the state’s general fund should be about $157 million higher than previously forecast by the end of next June. It should be about $238 million higher than the 2015-17 budget cycle that his office forecast in February.

► From KPLU — Gov. Inslee directs state agencies to identify 15% cuts — Gov. Jay Inslee is directing Washington state agencies to identify 15 percent cuts in the next budget. The directive comes as the latest revenue forecast released Tuesday shows an ongoing sluggish recovery. State budget director David Schumacher says the budget-cutting exercise does not mean all agencies will be cut by 15 percent:

This is not a drill to impose across-the-board cuts; this is a drill to give the governor the options to figure out where the pain will be least.

► From AP — Search starts anew for a Washington State Ferries chief — State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson is clearing the decks and restarting the search for a new director of Washington State Ferries. She sent department employees an email Tuesday saying that interim director George Capacci withdrew from consideration over the weekend, and she decided not to hire the other candidate, former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg.

► In today’s Olympian — Legislative Ethics Board weighs limit on free meals from lobbyists — After bandying around ideas Tuesday, the board’s citizen and legislator members agreed only that a cap should be between three and 52 meals a year.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Initiative to fight big money in politics likely to fall short — An initiative seeking to limit big money in national politics probably will not receive enough signatures to make the November ballot, backers say. Initiative 1329 would put Washington State on the record in favor of a constitutional amendment making it clear “corporations are not persons” and “money is not speech.” The measure is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings in Citizens United and related cases.




amazon-warehouse► In the P.S. Business Journal — Amazon labor practices under investigation after two worker deaths — The U.S. Department of Labor has launched an investigation into Amazon’s distribution centers after two employees died in the past six months. The most recent death occurred June 1 in Carlisle, Penn. This isn’t the first time Amazon’s labor practices have been the cause of attention, most notably in 2011 when the company arranged to have paramedics outside a center in Pennsylvania because employees were overheating. Amazon spent millions to add air conditioners to its centers after the public outrage

► From KPLU — Rep. Smith pushes for release of Renton woman being held in Mexican prison — Rep. Adam Smith (D-Bellevue) says the United States should be doing more to free a Renton woman being held in a Mexican prison. Nestora Salgado was arrested last August in the state of Guerrero, Mexico after helping to organize a local militia of indigenous people — something allowed under Mexican law.

ALSO at The Stand — Rep. Adam Smith calls for justice for Nestora Salgado

► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver city manager gets 17 percent raise — Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes received a 17 percent salary increase from $169,659 to $199,000 on Monday by unanimous vote of the city council.




gilead-ceo-john-martin► From AP — Sovaldi jolts U.S. health care system — Your money or your life? Sovaldi, a new pill for hepatitis C, cures the liver-wasting disease in 9 of 10 patients, but treatment can cost more than $90,000. Leading medical societies recommend the drug as a first-line treatment, and patients are clamoring for it. But insurance companies and state Medicaid programs are gagging on the price… Drug maker Gilead Sciences, Inc., reported Sovaldi sales of $2.3 billion worldwide in just the first three months of this year. Gilead will not disclose its pricing methods, but vice president Gregg Alton said the drug’s high cure rate makes it “a real huge value.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Forbes reports that Gilead CEO John C. Martin is one of the highest paid CEOs in the U.S., with one-year total compensation of $43.2 million. That sounds like “a real huge value,” too.




► In today’s NY Times — Social Security cuts services as demand grows, Senate report says — The SSA is closing field offices and reducing services to the public even as demand for those services surges with the aging of the baby boom generation, according to a bipartisan Senate committee report. The report says the agency has closed more than two dozen field offices in the last year, generally without considering the needs of communities and without consulting beneficiaries or field office managers.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Vision 2025: Access to Social Security at stake (by AFGE President J. David Cox)

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Proposed Hanford 2015 budget partly restores cuts — A proposed U.S. House budget for Hanford next year slightly increases money above the Obama administration’s request, but would leave it significantly below current spending.




Scott Walker► From AP — Wisconsin’s Walker dogged by a promise not kept — Walker’s bid for re-election in a tight race may hinge on something he didn’t do. Before he was talking about taking on unions, Walker promised in 2010 that over four years the state would add 250,000 private sector jobs. More than three years into his term, Walker is far short of fulfilling the promise, and he hears about it almost every day on the campaign trail and as talk continues about his potential prospects as a 2016 presidential candidate.

► At TPM — Arizona candidate who changed his name to ‘Cesar Chavez’ thrown off ballot — The Arizona congressional candidate who changed his name to Cesar Chavez and switched to the Democratic party was thrown off the ballot by a judge on Tuesday. Chavez was removed from the ballot because 700 of his nomination petition signatures were invalid.




voting-rights-map► At AFL-CIO Now — Since 2010, new laws in 22 states restrict right to vote — Since Republicans gained control of many state legislatures in the 2010 elections, 22 states — nearly all of them in the South and the Midwest — have rolled out new restrictions on the right to vote. Voters in many of those states were protected by a key section of the Voting Rights Act that covered parts of 16 states with long histories of voter discrimination until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned it in 5–4 ruling last year. The new laws range from photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to voter registration restrictions and are squarely aimed at reducing voter turnout and, according to a new study by the Brennan School for Justice at New York University, many of those new voting restrictions “were previously blocked by the Voting Rights Act.”


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