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Session begins, Obamacare doomsday, Meryl update…

Monday, January 9, 2017




► In today’s Olympian — Can lawmakers solve school-funding crisis in 105 days? ‘It doesn’t bode well’ — Critics called it a delay tactic last year when state lawmakers, staring down a court order to fully fund Washington’s public schools, created a seventh task force to study the problem. Now, as lawmakers enter the year in which they’ve promised to finish the job, it appears the task force has fallen short of even its own modest expectations. Lawmakers will begin their new 105-day session Monday without a set of bipartisan recommendations on how the state should solve a problem that has persisted for decades: the unconstitutional use of local school district levies to pay teachers and other school employees.

ALSO at The Stand — 2017 legislative session is all about public education funding (today’s edition of the WSLC Legislative Update newsletter)

MORE coverage of today’s opening session from the  (Everett) Herald, Seattle Times, and the (Spokane) Spokesman-Review.

► From The Hill — Red states mull higher taxes — Legislators in some of the nation’s most conservative states are considering new ways to boost revenue — including tax increases — after years of deep cuts and a global commodity bust that has robbed them of billions of anticipated dollars.

EDITOR’S NOTE — And yet, here in Washington state, the GOP seem stuck in revenue-obstructionist mode, still praying that their “no new taxes” political rhetoric will one day win them control of state government. We hope that this year is different, and state Republicans realize that solving problems — like education funding — is more important than politics. And ultimately, it can earn the voters’ respect and support.

► In the Seattle Times — Legislature has a chance to fix Washington state’s broken education-funding system (editorial) — Lawmakers don’t have time for lengthy debates about re-imagining schools. They’ve done so for years. Now they’re in the final stage of an overhaul that’s been progressing since 2012 when the Supreme Court began its oversight. All acknowledge that some taxes will increase to pay this overdue bill. The policy question is who should pay… At least Democrats have proposed specific ideas to consider and discuss as the Legislature convenes. Disappointingly, Republicans have so far failed to produce publicly a detailed proposal, reflecting diverging views within their caucuses.

► In the News Tribune — ‘Stealth inequities’: How Washington’s education system hurts poor schools — Most states build education budgets around student needs. But not Washington, where school spending is driven primarily by enrollment. As Olympia faces a deadline to find more education money overall, low-income communities question the fairness of our system.

► In the News Tribune — Phil Fortunato tapped to replace Pam Roach in state Senate after testy appointment process — Roach resigned her seat after being elected to the Pierce County Council this fall. The Sumner Republican spent 26 years in the Senate.




► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma General nurses approve contract — Tacoma General Hospital nurses have ratified a contract deal that was reached on the cusp of a December strike vote. The WSNA said that last week’s vote had approved the agreement, which was reached after 19 bargaining sessions with MultiCare Health System that began in 2015. A union spokeswoman declined to provide the vote count but described it as “overwhelming.”

► In the Seattle Times — Seattle Times to cut newsroom staff — The state’s largest newsroom, facing falling ad revenue, will be reduced by almost two dozen positions, even as it plans to restructure how it publishes in print and online.




► From Politico — Obamacare repeal’s doomsday scenario — Hospital and health plan leaders talk in almost apocalyptic terms about what might lie ahead if Republicans abolish Obamacare without a blueprint for its replacement. Their doomsday scenario: Millions of people could lose their health care coverage, hospitals could hemorrhage cash and shocks to the $3 trillion-a-year health system could send ripples through the entire economy.

► From CBS News — Obamacare repeal warning: ‘Massive job losses’ — A new study finds that getting rid of Obamacare could lead to even higher costs, including the loss of 3 million jobs within four years.

► In today’s NY Daily News — AFL-CIO to take on ‘reckless’ Republican push to repeal Obamacare — The AFL-CIO, a union that has had its share of issues with elements of the Affordable Health Care Act, is now poised to become one of its biggest defenders on Capitol Hill.

► From The Hill — Trump, Sanders, Schumer battle cuts to Medicare, Social Security — It now appears that President-elect Donald Trump will side with Sens. Schumer, Sanders and Democrats in both houses of Congress in opposing GOP plans to attack and cut these vital programs.

► From Reuters — Senate to act this week on Obamacare repeal, McConnell says — The U.S. Senate will take its first steps toward repealing President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform act by the end of the week, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

► In today’s NY Times — Ready or not, Republicans say cabinet hearings will begin Tuesday — Being the minority party, the Democrats would face long odds in trying to derail any of the nominations. They are, however, seeking to delay Republicans’ plans to open hearings on Tuesday until the nominees have completed F.B.I. background checks.

► In today’s NY Times — What are you hiding, Jeff Sessions? (editorial) — As attorney-general confirmation hearings begin for a man the Senate considered too racist to be a federal judge, Democrats must put up a real fight.

► From Think Progress — McConnell ignoring cabinet confirmation procedure he demanded in 2009 — Letter shows he demanded full ‘financial disclosures’ before hearings.

► From TPM — Obama takes ‘some responsibility’ for significant Democratic losses — President Obama said that he takes “some responsibility” for the Democratic losses in elections over the past few years.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Yeah, in hindsight, maybe bucking the majority of Democrats by pushing the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership — including during this past election cycle in hopes of ramming it through in a lame-duck session to make it part of your “legacy” — wasn’t the best idea.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — Trump set to restrict program for foreign tech workers used by Microsoft — President-elect Donald Trump and his pick for attorney general are gearing up to overhaul or scrap a program that allows companies like Microsoft to bring in highly skilled contract workers to fill tech jobs in the U.S.




► From The Hill — Kentucky governor signs right-to-work law — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) on Saturday signed controversial legislation that will allow workers to refuse to pay union dues, a victory for Republicans who control the state government for the first time in nearly a century.

EDITOR’S NOTE — If there was ever any doubt what “right-to-work” (for less) laws are truly about, this should settle it. Like Donald Trump, the very first item of business for Republicans when they gain control of a government is to kneecap their opposition in order to solidify control. First, get rid of the unions. Then, make it harder for the people who don’t support you to vote. Rinse and repeat, in state after state. Yet the commercial media, and even many Democratic constituencies, continue to swallow the pretense that RTW is about workers’ rights or creating jobs. It’s purely political — the handiwork of fascists intent on controlling government.




Meryl Streep update: You’ll find none here. As much as we loved her Golden Globes speech, we have no “update” on Streep or the entirely predictable Twitter tantrum from our president-elect in response. The Stand is going to try to keep its eye on the ball in 2017. This “click-bait news” that spreads like wildfire online thanks to the proliferation of sites that get paid with every view is part of what has gotten us into this mess. Even The New York Times can’t find anything more important than Meryl Streep to ask Trump about. We must do better.


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

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