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Budget deals, McNerney’s big pension, ACA blinders…

Monday, June 29, 2015




budget-devil-in-details2► From AP — Lawmakers race clock to finalize budget deal — As they adjourned a second overtime session and prepare to start a third one, House and Senate leaders worked Saturday to finalize details on a new two-year state operating budget that must be adopted within the next few days in order to avoid a partial government shutdown. Gov. Jay Inslee and legislative leaders from both chambers held a press conference Saturday afternoon to address news of an agreement on the framework of the budget. They offered few specifics, however, saying that numerous details have not been resolved, but promising that the state will not face a government shutdown on Wednesday.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This Wednesday’s Stop the Shutdown Rally has not been cancelled. By late tonight, details on this agreement should be released and the unions organizing the rally will announce Tuesday whether the rally will proceed as planned.

► From WFSE — Inslee, bipartisan legislative leaders announce budget deal — The governor said the compromise budget funds our negotiated pay raises. But when asked if the Republican-sought conditions undermining collective bargaining rights were part of the budget deal, Inslee said he wouldn’t publicly say one way or the other.

transportation-poison-pill► In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee drops objection to ‘poison pill’ language in transportation package — Gov. Jay Inslee announced Sunday that he would accept language in a proposed transportation package intended to hinder one of his environmental priorities. Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Judy Clibborn says a deal has been reached with Republicans on the package.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Lawmakers OK 11.9-cent gas tax hike in transportation package — The proposal spans 16 years and would raise roughly $15 billion for the state’s transportation system, much of it from an 11.9-cent increase in the gas tax. That money will be spent to maintain roads, build new ones, repair bridges and construct a new vessel for the Washington State Ferries. It also puts money into expanding bus services, pedestrian walkways and bike paths.




mcnerney-boeing-grab► From the PSBJ — Retiring Boeing CEO to get $3.9 million per year pension — Boeing Co. Chief Executive Officer James McNerney could pocket at least $3.9 million in pension benefits annually for 15 years after he retires in 2016. He was awarded $24.9 million in compensation last year. The news of McNerney’s pension windfall comes a year and a half after Boeing Machinists agreed, under duress, to a contract that phases out their monthly pensions.

► In the PSBJ — Big blow for Boeing as Congress allows Ex-Im Bank to sunset — The U.S. government won’t back export sales of Boeing aircraft after the Export Import Bank sunsets on Tuesday. “We hope when we return on July 8, we’ll have a path to legislation in the early part of July,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell.




tacoma-raise-the-minimum-wage► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma’s minimum wage task force weighs in with 2 proposals — Most on Tacoma’s 15-member Minimum Wage Task Force say hourly pay for all of the city’s lowest-paid employees should rise to $15 an hour by 2025. Businesses with 150 or more workers would reach that wage five years earlier. But six business-minded members of the task force authored a minority report, which would elevate the city’s minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2019 with no difference depending on business size. The City Council will hear both proposals during a Tuesday meeting.

ALSO at The Stand — Rally Tuesday to raise Tacoma’s minimum wage

► In the Seattle Times — The recovery gap: Seattle area’s economic expansion is favoring the wealthy — In the Seattle area, the top 5 percent of households — those making at least $230,000 in 2007 — saw their earnings fully recover to pre-recession levels. Meanwhile, the group earning less than $32,500 when the recession started — the bottom 20 percent — saw their incomes decline further.




WA-GOP-social-security► In the Seattle Times — A pathological refusal to see any shred of good in Obamacare (by Danny Westneat) — New data shows our state suddenly is zeroing in on a historic benchmark — what technically could be called universal health coverage. What’s galling is how many members of Congress don’t want to know. They have been so strident against Obamacare for so long that any positive news about it simply cannot exist. This denialism has to end. There are a slew of problems with the law that need fixing. But it can’t happen because Republicans in Congress remain obsessed with the reform being a total failure.

► In the Seattle Times — Wash. Republican congressional delegation, stop Obamacare opposition (editorial) — After five years of unsuccessfully attacking the Affordable Care Act, Washington Republicans should stop fighting a law that is working.

► From The Hill — Politics shift on Obamacare — A law that helped Republicans sweep into the House majority in 2010 and that contributed to Democrats losing the Senate four years later may be becoming a bigger political problem for the GOP than it is a liability for Democrats.




► From The Hill — Obama to sign fast-track trade legislation — President Obama on Monday will sign trade legislation that paves the way for him to complete a sweeping trans-Pacific pact with 11 other nations. He will also sign a worker-aid (TAA) bill that helps Americans who lose their jobs to foreign competition.

highway-construction► From The Hill — Unions push for highway spending increase — A Senate committee approved a plan this week to spend $275 billion on roads over the next six years — if lawmakers can come up with a way to pay for it. AFL-CIO TTD President Ed Wytkind said the Senate plan does not go far enough, because it would only increase the federal government’s spending on infrastructure enough to keep up with inflation.




► From AFL-CIO Now — America’s unions applaud Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality — AFL-CIO’s Liz Shuler: “While there is still work to do to secure economic and social justice for LGBT Americans, the court’s ruling is a major victory for everyone who believes in equality. Same-sex couples will now have equal access to marriage licenses like any other couple. This ruling is a win for children, families, workers and our entire country.”

gerrymandering► From Huffington Post — Supreme Court upholds Arizona’s independent redistricting commission — In response to complaints that the state legislature was engaging in partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, Arizona voters approved an independent commission to draw district lines in a 2000 ballot initiative. Republican legislators sued to eliminate the commission. In its 5-4 ruling, the conservative wing of the court was in the minority.

► From In These Times — Connecticut just passed a law requiring bosses who steal workers’ wages to pay them back double — For many employers, wage theft makes good business sense. The probability of getting caught refusing to pay a worker overtime, shaving hours off their check or paying less than the minimum wage is low. And even in the small number of cases pursued by victims that see the inside of a courtroom, employees often only recover a fraction of what they’re owed. A new law in Connecticut, however, aims to change this.

► From Huffington Post — Outlawed by the states, payday lenders take refuge on reservations — arrangements between online payday loan companies and Native American tribes have become increasingly popular (to circumvent state regulations). Today, a quarter of the $4.1 billion the online payday loan industry takes in each year goes to 30 or so lenders based on reservations, according to Al Jazeera America.

► From AFL-CIO Now — July 4 Made-in-America shopping list — Many of us will celebrate Independence Day with a barbecue. We can keep the red, white and blue in the holiday with this made-in-America, union label backyard barbecue checklist.




Minnesota► In the Christian Science Monitor — The best state for business? High-tax, union-friendly Minnesota — Minnesota is the first union-friendly state with high wages and high taxes to reach the top of CNBC’s annual ranking. The North Star state ranks so well in areas such as education and quality of life that the disadvantages of a high cost of living and doing business are balanced out. After coming to office in 2011, Governor Mark Dayton set out to tackle the state’s $6.2 billion budget gap by pushing through a $2.1 billion tax increase in 2013 that targeted Minnesota’s wealthiest residents. Today the state has a $2 billion budget surplus and the lowest rate of unemployment in the country. The tax rate for high earners, at 9.85 percent, remains the highest in the nation.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington ranks 8th best in the new CNBC rankings. Once again, national business groups outside the confines of Washington’s corporate echo chamber say Washington is a great state to do business for many of the reasons Minnesota also scored so well. But corporate lobbyists continue to tell legislators that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. According to CNBC, that’s not in low-tax “right-to-work” Idaho (which ranks 14th), or even in Oregon (22nd) or California (26th). So what’s stopping Washington from being even higher? Notably, our state is dragged down by its low ranking (33rd) for Infrastructure. You have to scroll all the way down to 20th ranked Massachusetts before you find a state that scored lower.


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

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