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Senate out of sync, unions = better living, failed Kansas…

Thursday, April 9, 2015




senate-fingers-crossed-front► In today’s News Tribune — Lawmakers can’t mandate $1,000 raises for state workers — Senate Republicans last week proposed a way to save on state worker pay raises: Reject the labor contracts the state has already negotiated and give state agency employees annual bumps of $1,000 each instead. The only problem? The Legislature doesn’t actually have the authority to make that happen.

ALSO at The Stand — Senate GOP changes rules to block raises for state workers — Republican leaders changed procedural rules to require a 30-vote supermajority, so an amendment to fund the state employee contracts failed even though 29 senators — including all Democrats and several Republicans — voted for it and just 20 Republicans voted “no.”

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Balance of power between GOP and Dems should bode well in the Legislature (by Jerry Cornfield) — Six Senate Republicans joined the 23 minority Democrats to support the revision (funding state employee contracts) but, because of the rule, it failed 29-20. You can bet House Democrats will remind their Senate counterparts of this philosophical majority on this critical matter (during budget reconciliation).

► From PubliCola — Poll: Voters don’t like Senate’s decision to ignore state employee contracts (scroll down to #3) — One of the strongest findings in a recent Elway Poll — 58 percent of voters were “opposed” or found it “unacceptable” — was rejection of cutting state salaries. On that score, the Senate GOP budget is not in sync with public opinion. The Republican proposal rejects the state’s collective bargaining agreements and as an alternative propose to provide a flat $1,000 wage increase for all workers in each of the fiscal years. The Senate budget also eliminates health benefits for the spouses of state employees if they have employer offered benefits, and reduces health benefits for retired workers who receive Medicare.

► In the Columbian — Find middle ground (editorial) — The Senate plan would spend about $500 million less than the House on state-worker wages and benefits, ignoring some agreements that were negotiated last year… In their quest to cling to “no new taxes,” Senate Republicans are employing smoke-and-mirrors budgeting techniques.

► From PubliCola — GOP budget create McCleary collision course — About $800 million of the $1.3 billion that Senate Republicans are supposedly adding into the general fund to help pay for K–12 education comes from harsh cuts elsewhere.

kohl-welles► In today’s Seattle Times — Sen. Kohl-Welles says she’s running for King County Council — Kohl-Welles has served as a state senator for the 36th Legislative District, which includes Ballard, Queen Anne, Magnolia, Fremont and Greenwood, for 20 years.

► From Crosscut — Tax reform is the only way to ensure seniors get the care they deserve (by Roger Moore) — The way the state pays for long-term care and a host of other services no longer works. Year after year, the state has made wholesale cuts in budgets because leaders have created a tax structure that is out of whack.




south-carolina► In the PSBJ — Boeing’s South Carolina workers make $10 less per hour than those in Everett — Boeing employees in the company’s South Carolina facility make an average of $10 less per hour than similar employees in the company’s Everett plant. The company recently released that information to a South Carolina newspaper ahead of a vote over whether the Machinists at the North Charleston 787 Dreamliner plant should unionize. The vote is April 22.




► In today’s News Tribune — Report blasts Tacoma’s MultiCare for ‘traumatic’ and ‘aggressive’ billing and collections — The report focuses on two aspects of MultiCare’s collections: “traumatic” point-of-service billing — collecting payment from patients while they’re still in the hospital for treatment — and of “aggressively” garnishing wages and charging unreasonably high interest on medical debt.

ALSO at The Stand — Report: Non-profit MultiCare prioritizing profits, collections

► In today’s Oregonian — Port of Portland Commission approves initiative to improve conditions for contractor workers — Approval of the so-called PDX Workplace Initiative capped a months-long effort to develop broad guidelines aimed at improving working conditions and job security for baggage handlers, airplane cabin cleaners and wheelchair attendants, as well as food and retail shop employees at the airport.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Farm workers advance case against Mercer Canyons — A federal judge has granted class-action status to a group of farm workers who claim that Mercer Canyons illegally denied employment to domestic workers in favor of imported guest workers under the federal H-2A program.




morales-deported-killed► At Think Progress — Constantino Morales warned he could be killed if he was deported. Then he was. — Six months after he was deported back to Mexico from the United States, Constantino Morales was shot and killed Sunday night. Morales, an undocumented immigrant who fought for immigration reform in Iowa, was twice denied asylum in the United States before he was found dead in the Mexican state of Guerrero. “If I am sent back, I will face more violence and I could lose my life,” Morales said at a meeting with Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) in August 2013. “We are in severe need of fair immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship. We don’t want any excuses; we know you can make this happen.” An immigration advocacy group explained that Morales was “a former police officer in Mexico who publicly stood up against drug trafficking. After many attempts on his life, he came to the US in search of asylum and an opportunity to continue to work to support his family. He was a kind man. He never let his legal status limit his advocacy for immigrant rights.”

► In the NY Times — Judge refuses to let Obama’s executive actions on immigration proceed — A federal judge in Texas refused to halt an injunction he had placed on the president’s immigration actions, saying they would be harmful.

► From AP — White House criticizes ruling on Obama’s executive action — A federal judge has wrongly prevented “common-sense policies” from taking effect by blocking President Barack Obama’s executive action that seeks to shield millions of immigrants from deportation, and the federal government plans to continue its fight in a higher court, the White House said Wednesday.




unions-standard-of-living► From Politics That Work — Union Membership and Standards of Living — This graph shows how union membership correlates to standard of living. The horizontal axis shows the percentage of each state’s workforce that is a member in a union and the vertical axis shows the standard of living in that state. The orange markers represent “right to work” states which do not permit unions to negotiate union-security agreements where all workers covered by a contract pay a “fair share” for representation, and the green markers represent states that permit employees to vote to unionize with mandatory dues. The blue line represents the average relationship between standard of living and union membership. States that permit workers to vote to unionize and negotiate union security agreements tend to have significantly higher standards of living. All 10 of the states with the lowest standards of living have less than 11% of their population in unions and 8 of the ten worst states for standard of living are “right to work” states.

► From Daily Kos — Federal contractors now banned from discriminating against LGBT workers — It now doesn’t matter what state you run a business out of, and what its laws say (or don’t say) about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity: If you want a contract with the federal government, you can’t discriminate.

► In today’s Washington Post — NLRB hits Postal Service over response to cyber breach — An NLRB complaint says the Postal Service should have negotiated an appropriate timeline for alerting workers to a cyber breach last year.

► From Think Progress — Obamacare opponents are making racial inequality worseBy refusing to expand Medicaid, they’re denying health care to millions of low-income people of color.




brownback-huh► From the Atlantic — Kansas’s failed experiment — The state’s budget problems didn’t go away after Governor Sam Brownback’s reelection — they got worse. Just a few days after the November election, the Kansas budget office revealed that revenue projections were off by more than $200 million, bringing the budget gap facing Brownback to $600 million in all. The yawning deficit is widely blamed on the deep income tax cuts that Brownback, along with a Republican legislature, enacted during his first two years in office. They not only slashed rates, but more importantly, they created a huge exemption for business owners who file their taxes as individuals. By Brownback’s own description, the tax plan was a “real live experiment” in supply-side economics, with the idea being that lower taxes would spur investment, create jobs, and refill Kansas’s coffers through faster growth. Yet even under the most charitable analysis, revenue has plummeted much faster than the economy has expanded. Will this lesson of tax-cuts-gone-awry give Republican candidates pause in 2016?


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