Friday, December 19, 2014
► From KPLU — Inslee proposes robust tax package for Washington state budget — “It is time to reinvest in Washington,” Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday. He proposed that the state adopt a new capital-gains tax to help fund a $39 billion two-year budget that would prioritize education, union-negotiated pay raises for state employees, and avoid what the Democratic governor calls “devastating” cuts to corrections, higher education and social services.
► In today’s Olympian — Inslee’s budget plan includes roughly $1.5 billion for state worker, teacher pay — The budget Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled Thursday included pay raises for K-12 teachers and other school employees that are meant to match the roughly 4.8 percent increases that most general-government employees would receive spread over two years.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Inslee’s budget plan funds first state pay hikes in 7 years
► In today’s Seattle Times — ‘Buck up,’ Inslee says, as he makes his case for new taxes — Gov. Jay Inslee wants to raise $1.4 billion in new revenue, including a new capital-gains tax, as part of his $39 billion two-year budget proposal, staking out a solidly liberal agenda likely to be a hard sell in a closely divided Legislature.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Inslee budget gets mixed local reaction
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Inslee’s budget proposal boosts school spending
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Carbon tax or gas tax, state transportation package must pass (editorial) — Inslee’s carbon tax proposal is worth the Legislature’s consideration, but we are wary that a transportation package might again held up in the Legislature because of differences over how to fund it. A transportation package — one that includes a carbon tax, a gas tax or some other source of revenue — must be adopted.
► In today’s News Tribune — Inslee: SR 167 a top priority — It may be on the fast track, but a new leg of SR 167 in Pierce County might not open to drivers until 2027. Meanwhile, a proposal to add toll lanes on I-5 has been dropped.
► MUST-READ from Bloomberg — Columbia River Crossing saga shows great failure of collective undertaking (by Peter Robison) — If, in some great museum of American public discourse, there’s a gilded pedestal reserved for the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, then way in the back, in a darkened room that no one tells the docents about, you might find a cardboard diorama of the Benton-Rivers Encounter. It happened last year on the floor of the Washington state senate. Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver), a barrel-chested, goateed 57-year-old, says colleague Ann Rivers started the name-calling that made onlookers and pages gawk. She called him a “piece of s—” and leaned in so aggressively that, he says, he felt physically threatened. In Rivers’ account, Benton stared, laughed creepily and repeatedly called her “weird.” Some weeks afterward, according to a report by colleagues who tried to mediate their dispute, Benton would say Rivers, 48, was behaving like a “trashy, trampy-mouthed little girl.”
The passion of their exchange wasn’t stirred by abortion or gun control, or even partisan differences; both are Republicans. Instead, their argument boiled down to who was best suited to derail a plan for replacing one of the most dangerous major highway bridges in America, a rotting, accident-prone span over the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Unions seek accountability for Boeing, aerospace tax breaks — Union leaders are out button-holing state legislators this month, hoping to line up support for a state law that would require measured results, such as added jobs, from aerospace companies that receive state tax breaks.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Two more air-bag accidents on undelivered Boeing jets have workers concerned — Two new seat-belt air-bag accidents on Boeing airplanes being prepared for delivery have raised safety concerns among workers after an air bag incident last month killed a worker.
► In today’s P.S. Business Journal — Contract negotiations at ports going poorly as container traffic drops 20 percent — The Pacific Maritime Association, the terminal representatives at ports along the West Coast, released a statement Wednesday negating any suggestions that contract negotiations with the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union are going well. Meanwhile, the ports of Tacoma and Seattle released productivity numbers showing a precipitous drop in the number of containers that have moved through since negotiations began getting tense in early November.
EDITOR’S NOTE — If the PMA put as much effort into negotiating a fair contract as they have into their PR finger-pointing campaign away from the bargaining table, there would be a settlement by now.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Union sheds light on opposition to KapStone health care options — Contract talks between KapStone and union pulp and paper workers are hung up on health care, overtime, seniority rules and other issues, but few details about the dispute have emerged. The Daily News interviewed leaders of AWPPW Local 153 to shed more light on details of a company offer that is subject to a union vote this week. Today, we explore health care.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Medicare cutting payments to hospitals in area over patient safety — In King County, nearly half of the area’s 13 hospitals will be sanctioned for patient-safety problems, including four Seattle hospitals: Swedish Medical Center on Cherry Hill, Swedish First Hill and Ballard, Northwest Hospital and Medical Center, and Harborview Medical Center.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Truck drivers in Washington face high rates of workplace injuries — Truck drivers have some of the highest rates of workplace injuries in Washington state, according to a report this month from the Department of Labor & Industries. Each year, one in every 13 truck drivers has a work-related injury serious enough that they have to miss work for a period of time.
► In today’s News Tribune — New sawmill in Frederickson will employ 150 workers — Sierra Pacific Industries said it plans to begin grading and site preparation work on the 125-acre mill site within two weeks with actual mill construction starting by spring.
► In today’s News Tribune — Union says East Pierce Fire issued 7 layoff notices — East Pierce Fire & Rescue issued layoff notices to six firefighters and a secretary Thursday, according to the union.
► In the NW Labor Press — Port of Portland will consider a “social equity” policy for airport workers — Port of Portland managers say they’re working on a proposal to raise worker standards at the Portland airport, but it won’t come soon enough for a group of food service workers who are due to be laid off Dec. 31.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Publicly owned bank could be useful, if done right (by James McCusker) — Is a publicly owned bank a good idea for Seattle, or for any community in our state? It could be, if it is organized differently from most government adventures in finance.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
► In today’s Seattle Times — State health exchange to turn over payment system to insurance carriers — In a move that took some by surprise Thursday, the board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange voted to take the state’s online insurance exchange out of the business of managing customer payments and invoices. After heated comments at a board meeting Thursday morning, members voted 4-3 to stop this key part of the exchange’s operations in the fall of 2015 and turn it over to the insurance carriers. “I think that this motion is premature,” said board member Teresa Mosqueda.
WAR ON UNIONS
► In today’s NY Times — Foes of unions try their luck in county laws — Conservative groups are opening a new front in their effort to reshape American law, arguing that local governments have the power to write their own rules on a key labor issue that has, up to now, been the prerogative of states. Beginning here in the Kentucky hometown of Senator Rand Paul and the Chevy Corvette, groups including the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Heritage Foundation and a newly formed nonprofit called Protect My Check are working together to influence local governments the same way they have influenced state legislatures, and anti-union ordinances are just the first step in the coordinated effort they envision.
ALSO at The Stand — Right-wing Freedom Foundation swept, but still suing away (Oct. 17) — The Freedom Foundation has now gone 0-for-4 — a sweep in baseball playoff parlance — in its campaign to politicize city governments’ collective bargaining negotiations and to weaken unions. But the litigious right-wing think tank has only just begun its legal assault on the targeted cities, as it attempts to accomplish in court what has been unanimously rejected by elected city leaders, including many conservatives, throughout Washington state.
► From WKU Public Radio — As Kentucky counties pass local ‘right-to-work’ laws, opinions differ on their legality — Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is expected to issue a ruling soon on whether counties can legally pass right-to-work laws. For now, the answer depends on who you ask.
► In the Washington Post — How ALEC helped undermine public unions (op-ed) — State business lobbies like ALEC have indeed achieved one of their founding goals established some four decades ago (to weaken public employee unions). There is a deep historical irony to this reversal of fortune: ALEC was initially concerned with the fact that liberals were dominating state politics, yet now it is progressives who are lamenting the fact that they lack any counterweight to ALEC in the states. ALEC has succeeded in no small part because of its ability to play the long game, changing state policy in durable ways that benefit its members while hampering its rivals. Whether liberals will learn this lesson remains to be seen.
► In The Hill — Democrats urge officials to leave out investor-state dispute provisions in major trade deals — Five Democrats — including Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) — have written President Obama urging him to exclude investor-to-state dispute settlement provisions from the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement. In a separate letter, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and two other U.S. Senators raised concerns about those provisions being added to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
ALSO at The Stand — Inslee wary of expanding investor rights in trade deals (Dec. 16)
► In the Seattle Times — Obama needs to face the realities of NAFTA (letter by state Sen. Maralyn Chase) — With NAFTA, trade negotiators had the benefit of the doubt. Trade skeptics had a burden of proof. Now, with 25 years of experience of NAFTA, President Obama and his negotiators bear the burden of proof. We’ve seen enough offshoring and distortions in power relationships in favor of multinational corporations and away from workers and the environment.
► MUST-READ at Salon — 401(k)s are a sham — The concept of a do-it-yourself retirement was a fraud. It was a fraud because to expect people to save up enough money to see themselves through a 20- or 30-year retirement was a dubious proposition in the best of circumstances. It was a fraud because it allowed hustlers in the financial sector to prey on ordinary people with little knowledge of sophisticated financial instruments and schemes. And it was a fraud because the mainstream media, which increasingly relies on the advertising dollars of the personal finance industry, sold expensive lies to an unsuspecting public. When combined with stagnating salaries, rising expenses and a stock market that did not perform like Rumpelstilskin and spin straw into gold, do-it-yourself retirement was all but guaranteed to lead future generations of Americans to a financially insecure old age. And so it has.
► The bad news: The Entire Staff of The Stand will be on hiatus for the rest of 2014.
The good news: If you missed Brandi Carlile performing with the Seattle Symphony over Thanksgiving weekend, don’t fret. Tickets go on sale TODAY to see her “Pin Drop Tour” at The Moore in Seattle on Feb. 20. (The Entire Staff of The Stand already got ours during yesterday’s presale — nyuk nyuk nyuk.) This totally acoustic show, for which all proceeds benefit KEXP, will have NO amplification. If you’ve seen her and the Hanseroth twins perform — and you may have seen them busking at Pike Place Market or in a bar on top of Queen Anne hill before they hit it big — you know they require none. As proof, here’s a single released this week from her upcoming album, The Firewatcher’s Daughter, beautifully performed in a single take.
For more info, check out this great NPR interview with Carlile.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.