Monday, February 18, 2019
► In today’s Columbian — Stonier primary sponsor of bond majority bill — Election Day could have given the Ridgefield School District cause to celebrate, with a majority of voters — 57.9 percent — supporting a school bond that would have paid for the construction of new schools in the rapidly growing district. But in Washington, a majority doesn’t cut it if you want to build new schools. Under the state constitution, bonds measures like those used to pay for school construction take 60 percent support. Some lawmakers in Olympia seek to change that this Legislative session. Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver) is the primary sponsor of HB 1184, which would launch the process of amending the state constitution to allow school construction bonds to pass with a simple majority.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO strongly supports this legislation and thanks Rep. Stonier for her leadership.
► In the News Tribune — Voters ride to rescue of South Sound schools. Legislators must join the Cavalry (editorial) — Voters in three local school districts did their best Cavalry imitation last week by approving bonds to pay for much-needed school construction projects. For that, they deserve a salute… But make no mistake: The supermajority remains a superannuated and supremely bad policy. It has kept too many Washington school districts from addressing overcrowded and dilapidated facilities. The Legislature must send a measure to the statewide ballot this fall that gives voters a chance to lower the crippling supermajority threshold.
► In the News Tribune — Layoffs and cutbacks coming to state’s schools without levy reform, district leaders say — In exchange for raising the state property tax rate to pay for most of the K-12 funding increase, legislators in 2017 restricted the maximum amount that school districts can collect in local property taxes. That has left one-third of the 295 school districts, including Tacoma, short of funding and facing draconian measures such as laying off employees while residents in rural areas have received property tax relief.
► In the Seattle Times — Eyman under investigation in theft of $70 chair from Office Depot
► In the NW Labor Press — Clark College faculty press for pay parity with K-12 teachers — To Clark College faculty union members, a fair contract means long-overdue raises that are more than inflation. About 500 college faculty at Clark College are represented by Clark College Association of Higher Education, an affiliate of the WEA. They say they haven’t had more than cost-of-living increases in decades, and they want salaries comparable to that of K-12 public school teachers.
► In the Seattle Times — Amazon puts the smile in federal income taxes — by not paying any (by Danny Westneat) — Amazon was able to zero out its tax bill — actually go below zero, as it qualified for a rebate of $129 million — in large part due to Congress and President Donald Trump’s year-old tax-cut law. “That law didn’t reform much of anything; it was simply to slash taxes,” said Matthew Gardner, of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. “So it isn’t surprising this is happening. Cutting corporate taxes was the whole point.”
Last year total corporate taxes paid to the U.S. government plummeted 31 percent, a drop described by a debt watchdog group as “unprecedented during a time of economic growth.” The freight paid by U.S. businesses is already down another 18 percent in the first quarter of the 2019 year (the fiscal year for the government started last October). It’s part of the reason why the federal deficit soared 42 percent in that same quarter, despite a booming economy and no major war straining the budget. The latest head-shaking factoid about our red ink is that the federal government next year will spend more on interest on the debt than it will on children. As one critic put it: more on the past than on the future.
EDITOR’S NOTE — And as MarketWatch points out, it gets worse. Amazon can offset any future tax liabilities with its existing credits! So when you do your taxes and discover you’re getting a smaller refund this year, remember that horrible deficit-exploding tax giveaway to corporations and the rich, was rammed through on a narrow party-line vote by the former Republican majority in Congress with the support of Washington’s Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse. And now, its resulting deficits are being used as an excuse to cut Social Security and Medicare, just as the labor movement warned it would.
► From HuffPost — Tax refund fiasco is political payback for Republicans — Republicans boasted all last year that their new tax law boosted paychecks and showered bonuses on several million workers. But now that tax season is upon us, several million Americans are getting a nasty surprise: a bill from the Internal Revenue Service that they never expected.
► In today’s Washington Post — White House defends Trump’s emergency declaration as lawsuits and political battles mount — The White House on Sunday defended President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border and sought to clarify his contradictory statements about its necessity, marking the start of what’s expected to be a drawn-out fight over funding the construction of a wall amid mounting legal challenges and objections from Congress.
► In the Washington Post — Five myths about the federal workforce — Myth #1: Federal employees earn more than private-sector workers. #2: The federal workforce is mostly located in Washington. #3: The government is shrinking. #4: The private sector delivers more value for the money. #5: It’s impossible to fire a federal worker.
EDITOR’S NOTE — On Myth #4, this article points out: “The Project on Government Oversight says that ‘the government pays billions more annually in taxpayer dollars to hire contractors than it would to hire federal employees to perform comparable services.’ At any rate, certain inherently governmental functions should never be outsourced. A piece in the Harvard Business Review posited that ‘the key question’ when considering privatization of government services is ‘under what conditions will managers be more likely to act in the public’s interest.’ Making this case are examples like the horrors of private prisons, inadequate protection of human rights by contractors running immigrant detention centers and defense contractors sanctioned for human trafficking.
► From The Hill — Crumbling infrastructure is a hidden tax on all Americans (by Bob Taylor) — Improving infrastructure could unlock enormous growth in productivity and could reduce the hidden tax on our lives from aggravating delays at airports and on the rails and long commutes to work.
► In today’s NY Times — Chinese, Iranian hackers renew their attacks on U.S. companies — Dozens of corporations — including Boeing, General Electric Aviation and T-Mobile — and multiple United States agencies have been hit. Security experts believe the hackers have been energized by Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last year and his trade conflicts with China.
► From Politico — Airbus warns of ‘catastrophic’ no-deal Brexit — A top Airbus executive warned today that a no-deal Brexit would be “catastrophic” for the industry, adding that the company has already spent tens of millions of euros preparing for such a scenario.
► From Insider Louisville — UPS mechanics ratify new contract with 18 percent immediate raise — UPS aircraft mechanics (Teamsters) have ratified a new five-year contract that will give them an immediate 17.72 percent raise for a base pay of about $123,000 per year. Over the life of the contract, base pay will increase 32.61 percent, to about $139,000. The new contract also makes no changes to employee premiums of a key early retirement health care benefit that had been one of the sticking points in protracted negotiations.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Double-digit raises? Early retirement health care? That’s the power of joining together — and sticking together — with your co-workers in a union. Get more information about how you can negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Contact a union organizer today!
► In today’s SF Chronicle — Oakland teachers plan to go on strike Thursday — Oakland teachers will strike Thursday in a call for higher wages and more investment in city schools, union officials announced Saturday. Teachers have been working without a contract since July 2017 and can’t afford to live in the city, said Keith Brown, president of the Oakland Education Association, which represents 3,000 educators. High housing costs have led to more than 18 percent of teachers leaving each year, according to a fact-finding report released Friday.
► In today’s Chicago Sun-Times — Aurora victim had helped gunman get job back, ‘died trying to set it straight’ — Russell Beyer had a “big heart” and tried his best to make his office a better place, his dad said. That’s why the 20-year mold operator and union chairman sat in on Gary Martin’s termination meeting Friday afternoon at the Henry Pratt Company. The meeting started with Martin — whose job Beyer had already helped win back two months earlier — getting fired for the second time. It ended with Martin killing almost everyone in the room, including Beyer.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.