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Beat the clock, ‘Fair Work Week,’ blood on a tax cut, Lowell’s Feat

Friday, June 30, 2017




► In today’s Olympian — Budget deal must be signed by midnight to prevent shutdown — A $43.7-billion budget deal that has been in the works for the past six months was released to the public early Friday morning, less than 24 hours before it must be signed into law to stop a partial shutdown of state government. Washington’s Legislature now has less than a day to review the 616-page document, pass it through the House and Senate and get it signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.

► In today’s News Tribune — State workers will get their raises under last-minute budget deal — Most Washington state employees would get cost-of-living raises in the form of three 2-percent hikes over two years under the budget deal the Legislature reached this week. The compromise budget provides $618 million in the next two years to help pay for the state worker contracts Gov. Jay Inslee’s office negotiated with a group of unions last summer. That money also would provide rate increases for certain non-state employees, such as home child care providers and adult family-home providers.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Budget would provide $7.3B more to public schools over four years — A state budget agreement would boost public-school spending by $7.3 billion over the next four years, funded in part by a hike in the statewide property tax that goes to education… The staffing and class-size formulas remain — a win for Democrats. Republicans, meanwhile, effectively killed a statewide schedule that provided higher salary rates for teachers with more education and seniority… Eventually, by 2019-20, the state-salary allocation for teachers will increase from an average of about $54,062 now to $64,000 in 2019-20. Salary allocations for school administrators and support staff would reach $95,000 and $45,912, up from a current $61,752 and $33,299, respectively. The state, however, will adjust those amounts based on regional housing costs and annual inflation rates. Every six years, beginning in 2023, the Legislature must reset the salary allocations to keep wages competitive.

► In today’s News Tribune — Budget deal raises the state property tax to pay for school overhaul — State lawmakers have agreed to raise the statewide property tax to help pay for about $7 billion in investments in public education over the next four years. The details of the new spending plan trickled out Thursday afternoon in a series of impromptu briefings between reporters and top legislative leaders.

► From The Stranger — Olympia could kill Washington’s thriving film industry — In the midst of this budget chaos, a bill to renew the small-scale (but economically and artistically important) Motion Picture Competitiveness Program will probably expire quietly today. In these contentious and long-delayed negotiations, can Legislature find $3.5 million to help sustain the local film industry, bring jobs and money to Washington state, and keep our creative communities alive?

EDITOR’S NOTE — At press time, we don’t know the answer yet.




► From Reuters — Oregon passes nation’s first ‘fair work week’ legislationOregon is set to become the first U.S. state requiring certain businesses to furnish workers with a week’s notice of their job schedules and a minimum of 10 hours rest between daily shifts under a bill that won final legislative approval on Thursday. The bill, dubbed the “fair work week” act by supporters, is aimed at giving greater predictability to low-wage employees whose hours tend vary widely from day to day or week to week.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Workers in Washington finally get good pay bump, but housing costs soar twice as fast — The average Washingtonian last year made 4.8 percent more in wages, though home costs grew about 11 percent and rent grew about 6.5 percent.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Horizon Air cutting hundreds of flights this summer due to pilot shortage — Horizon Air — the regional airline that is part of Alaska Air Group, carrying passengers on shorter flights throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond — is cutting its flight schedule this summer because of a severe shortage of pilots for its Q400 turboprop planes. In an effort to reduce cancellations, it’s also sending out managers who are qualified pilots to fly the planes and offering double pay to pilots who fly extra flights.




► From the AFL-CIO — Working families all over the U.S. mobilize against the Senate Republican health care bill — While the Senate Republican leaders announced they were going to postpone their vote on their version of a health care bill that actually takes away care from 22 million people, working people from across the country took to the streets to express their opposition to this cruel piece of legislation. We still need to hold strong and beat back this bill. Call your senators today: 888-865-8089.

► In today’s NY Times — Projected drop in Medicaid spending heightens hurdle for GOP health bill — Projected Medicaid spending under a Senate Republican bill to repeal the ACA would be 35 percent lower after two decades, the CBO said on Thursday in a new report, which detailed how Medicaid changes would cut more deeply as they go fully into force.

► From The Hill — Healthcare protesters arrested after protest in GOP senator’s office — Police arrested 10 protesters in Denver Thursday night after they staged a two-day sit-in at Senator Corey Gardner’s (R-Co.) office to protest the Senate GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill. The protesters, many of whom had disabilities, urged Gardner to vote against the bill and chanted that they would “rather go to jail than die without Medicaid,” according to a CNN report.

► In today’s NY Times — Blood on a tax cut (by Timothy Egan) — Lost in the usual banality of the Beltway box score this week are the moral dimensions of the plot to gut health care. The reprieve on a Senate vote, until after the July 4 recess, is momentary. Still, it gives people just enough time to consider the audacity of meanness behind what Republicans are trying to do. There is blood on this tax cut. It’s a simple swap — taking away $700 billion from one class of people to give it to another. That swap would leave 22 million Americans without health care over the next decade, and many of them will die prematurely because they will not see a doctor in time. In turn, those making $875,000 a year would get an average tax cut of about $45,000. Those making $5 million a year would get a break of $250,000.

► In today’s NY Times — Understanding Republican cruelty (by Paul Krugman) — Republicans start from a sort of baseline of cruelty toward the less fortunate, of hostility toward anything that protects families against catastrophe. In this sense there’s nothing new about their health plan. What it does — punish the poor and working class, cut taxes on the rich — is what every major GOP policy proposal does. The only difference is that this time it’s all out in the open.




► From the AFL-CIO — Davis-Bacon is not racist, and we need to protect it — Davis-Bacon has been an undeniable success—lifting millions of working people into the middle class, strengthening public-private partnerships and guaranteeing that America’s infrastructure is built by the best-trained, highest-skilled workers in the world. Yet today, corporate CEOs, Republicans in Congress and right-wing think tanks are attacking Davis-Bacon and the very idea of a prevailing wage. These attacks reached an absurd low in a recent piece by conservative columnist George Will who perpetuated the myth that Davis-Bacon is racist.

► Today from AP — Trump’s Labor Dept wants salary to count on overtime rule — The Labor Department says it intends to consider salary level when determining who is eligible for overtime pay. But it hasn’t yet set the maximum earnings a worker can have and still qualify.

► In today’s Washington Post — Mitch McConnell, America’s No. 1 obstructionist, is trying to make big things happen — The Senate majority leader who titled his autobiography “The Long Game” faces ideological division within his own party, deeply damaged relations with Democrats and an uncertain bond with an impatient president.

► In today’s NY Times — Trump administration moves to carry out Muslim travel ban — In a lengthy cable sent to embassies and consulates around the world, officials said that extended family connections would not be enough to evade the president’s ban on entry. Parents, including in-laws, are considered “close family,” but grandparents are not, for instance. Stepsiblings and half-siblings will be allowed, but not nieces or nephews.

► From AP — Feds will now target relatives who smuggled in children to U.S. — A new “surge initiative” aims to dismantle human-smuggling operations, including identifying and arresting the adult sponsors of unaccompanied minors who paid smugglers to bring the children across the U.S. border.

► In today’s Washington Post — Donald Trump is not well (by

► In today’s NY Post — On Trump’s tweet (3-word editorial) — Stop. Just stop.




► In today’s NY Daily News — New York Times staffers walk out to fight proposed layoffs — Dozens of New York Times staffers walked out of the newsroom Thursday in an act of protest over proposed layoffs. Carrying signs that said “Copy editors save our buts,” staffers from nearly every floor of The Times’ headquarter hit the exit for the short rally and walkout.




► Yesterday was the anniversary of the 1979 death of the great Lowell George, who died of a drug-related heart attack at the way-too-young age of 34. He’s best known as the front man for Little Feat, a band that Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page once told Rolling Stone was his favorite. George brought the slide guitar from country into blues rock (and from sitting to standing), not only with his band but as a session musician for everyone from Harry Nilsson to Jackson Browne to Robert Palmer. George mentored a young Bonnie Raitt, who took up the blues rock slide-guitar mantle after his passing. The Entire Staff of The Stand never got to see him perform, but growing up in the South, we loved Little Feat and consider the band’s Waiting for Columbus — easily found in a vinyl bargain bin near you — to be our favorite live album of all time. Enjoy.


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