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May 20, 2010

May 19: Tell House to pass jobs bill

May 18: I-1082: Don't sign it or vote for it

May 15: WSLC election endorsements

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

I-1098 tax reform campaign begins

WSLC urges union members to join in signature-gathering effort

Last weekend, delegates representing the Washington State Labor Council's affiliated unions from across the state voted to endorse Initiative 1098, a tax reform measure intended to make our state's tax code more fair. I-1098 will cut taxes on middle-class families while providing stable revenue dedicated to protecting education and health care priorities like K-12 class- size reduction efforts and Basic Health coverage. Learn more.

►  At -- Initiative 1098: Signature drive begins -- A broad activist coalition on Wednesday night launched a signature drive to put Initiative 1098 onto the November ballot. I-1098 is a hybrid. It would institute an income tax for high-income households, but lop 20% off the state share of property taxes. It would virtually eliminate the B&O tax for small businesses. 


Democracy? We don't need no stinking democracy:

►  At AFL-CIO -- Airlines fight fair, democratic election rules -- Several of the nation’s major airlines are mounting a huge legal battle against a new federal regulation that makes union elections for air and rail workers more fair and democratic. The airlines want to preserve an undemocratic system whereby people who don't vote are counted as "no" votes.

►  At -- AWB backs Eyman's I-1053, two-thirds vote for taxes -- The Association of Washington Business' Board of Directors voted unanimously to support Tim Eyman's latest offering. (That's right. The spokespeople for Washington's business community deliver a resounding thumbs-up in support of 34% minority rule and budget gridlock. You know, like they have in the state they love to hate: California. Maybe they should call their Golden State CEO buddies about the consequences of jumping on the Teabaggin' Wagon.)


More state election news:

►  In today's NY Times -- Health care reform and the courts (editorial) -- The number of states jointly suing to overturn the new health care reform law has swelled to 20. It is the latest example of conservatives’ determination to thwart reforms that will do enormous good -- and the latest reminder that politicians will continue to posture and demagogue the issue through the elections and beyond. Their lawsuit -- which pointedly named Barack Hussein Obama as a defendant -- is being pushed by officials who are running for re-election or higher office. (All but one are Republicans, including Washington's Attorney General Rob McKenna who has designs on the Governor's office).


National election news:

►  In today's NY Times -- Real stuff referendum (Timothy Egan column) -- In the Kentucky senate race, those pistol-packin’ partisans who think President Obama was born in Kenya and want government to go away are claiming Rand Paul, who routed the party establishment pick, as one of their own. This is a good development. For who makes up the Tea Party? At their rallies, you see a lot of people on Medicare and Social Security. Now they have Rand Paul, who has promised to fight for “liberty and limited government.” If we take him at his word, he should move against the biggest obstacles to liberty and limited government in the federal budget: Social Security and Medicare. Since 1966, those two mandatory programs for old people have grown from 16% of the federal budget to nearly 40%. Those deficit-contributing citizens, all those people at Dr. Paul’s rallies with spare time on their hands, would be a logical target.

►  At -- Unions vow push to defeat Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln -- Labor’s big push for Lt. Gov. Bill Halter -- including more than 60,000 calls and 200,000 worksite leaflets -- helped prevent Lincoln from obtaining the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff. “We look forward to the runoff,” said the AFL-CIO's Karen Ackerman. “We’re in it to win it, and we’ll spend the next three weeks in a very aggressive, continuing campaign to turn out union voters.”

►  In today's NY Times -- Voter insurrection goes mainstream, creating new rules -- Word has reached D.C. that an anti-incumbent tsunami is roaring its way, and frightened politicians are already trying, sometimes comically, to put some distance between themselves and the tide. “My gosh, these people in Washington are running the country right into the ground,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) lamented this week, despite having lived and worked there for the last 34 years.

►  In today's NY Times -- In Arizona, voters follow GOP governor and approve tax increase -- It's not every day that a Republican candidate for governor promotes and celebrates a tax increase. But there was Gov. Jan Brewer beaming to supporters after Arizona voters overwhelmingly backed a one-cent rise in the sales tax to help stave off sharp cuts in education and other services.


Boeing news:

►  At -- Machinists' Wroblewski: Boeing insists it will bid on tanker -- Following up on last week's Defense News report that Boeing executives were considering sitting out the U.S. Air Force's aerial refueling tanker competition, IAM District 751 President Tom Wroblewski said executives assured him that was not the case. "I saw the same report and asked that of the leadership, and they've indicated that's not true at all," Wroblewski said.  

►  At -- Rep. Smith: Report on impact of subsidies sooner -- The Pentagon would have to report on the impacts of illegal subsidies on the Air Force's aerial refueling tanker competition and whether such subsidies provided an unfair advantage to a competitor before the Air Force awards the contract, under a measure Rep. Adam Smith (D-9th) has proposed.

►  In the Renton Reporter -- Boeing to sign 40-year lease at Renton Airport -- Boeing plans to sign a 40-year lease (20 years with two 10-year renewal options) at the Renton Municipal Airport.


Local news:

►  In today's Spokesman-Review -- Spokane County lays off 57 jail workers -- The sheriff said his jail budget would have been $8 million in the hole by the end of year if the cuts weren't approved. The layoffs include 30 deputies at the Geiger Corrections Center -- more than 40% of the deputies there. At the main Spokane County Jail, 14 of 140 deputies will lose their jobs.

►  In today's Spokesman-Review -- Spokane County jail workers' union still considering merger -- Local unions for two groups of Spokane County corrections deputies (AFSCME Locals 492 and 492-GCO) will go ahead with county-requested merger discussions despite layoffs.

►  In today's (Longview) Daily News -- Radar Ridge wind project suffers investment setback -- Backers of putting Western Washington's first big wind farm on a ridge near Naselle are trying to keep the project from falling apart after its largest investor declined to spend more money.

►  In today's News Tribune -- Pierce County Council may weigh in on illegal immigration -- It will consider urging state and local governments to adopt the E-Verify employment verification system to determine potential hires' legal status. Lakewood and Pierce County already use it.


National news:

►  At -- Cantwell votes to continue efforts to strengthen Wall Street reform legislation -- U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell voted to continue debate on financial regulatory reform legislation, saying that the bill as it stands fails to close loopholes on unregulated derivatives trading. Those loopholes, Cantwell said, were primarily responsible for the severe economic meltdown that has increased unemployment and cut off investment capital. The issue, Cantwell said, is ensuring transparency and oversight of the currently unregulated derivatives market. Even seemingly small loopholes can create structural flaws in the financial system that can cause tremendous damage in the long term as they are exploited by Wall Street. 

►  In today's Washington Post -- Financial regulation measure stalled in Senate -- Two Senate Democrats broke party ranks Wednesday to block an effort to wrap up debate on landmark legislation to overhaul the nation's financial regulation, potentially delaying passage.

►  At AFL-CIO Now -- Minneapolis-St. Paul nurses vote to strike -- Amid chants of “Safe Patient Care,” members of the Minnesota Nurses Association announced they have authorized a strike of Twin Cities hospitals -- the largest nursing walkout in U.S. history. More than 12,000 registered nurses are ready to walk off the job in a one-day strike if a new agreement with six Twin Cities hospital systems can’t be reached before June 1, when the current contract expires.


THURSDAY, MAY 20, 2010
Campaign for I-1098 tax reform begins
WSLC urges union members to participate in signature-gathering effort

Last weekend, delegates representing the Washington State Labor Council's affiliated unions from across the state voted to endorse Initiative 1098, a tax reform measure intended to make our state's tax code more fair. I-1098 will cut taxes on middle-class families while providing stable revenue dedicated to protecting education and health care priorities like K-12 class-size reduction efforts and Basic Health coverage.

Initiative 1098 includes provisions that will generate thousands of jobs by freeing small business from onerous B&O taxes, cutting taxes for the vast majority of Washington families, creating a high-earners income tax on the wealthiest 3% of state households -- couples with joint income of $400,000 a year ($200,000 and up for individuals) -- to raise needed revenue dedicated to funding education and health care.

TAKE ACTION!  The signature gathering drive for I-1098 formally began last night and the Washington State Labor Council urges union members and activists to get involved in the signature-gathering effort. Click here to request petitions.  

What would I-1098 do?

• A 20% cut in the state property tax;

• Eliminates B&O taxes for more than 375,000 small businesses. exempting about 80% of tax-paying businesses in the state;

• Creates a high-earners income tax only on the wealthiest 3% of households -- couples with joint income of $400,000 a year ($200,000 and up for individuals)

• Requires the wealthy to pay their fair share, I-1098 will generate about $1 billion per year dedicated to a trust fund for education and health care.

Who is behind I-1098?

I-1098 was not designed by state politicians. Instead, it was put together by a coalition of respected business, labor, and community leaders like Bill Gates, Sr., who support a careful, balanced reform of our state’s tax system intended to benefit the middle class and strengthen small businesses. That is why Initiative 1098 includes tough provisions to ensure that middle class will pay less in taxes and all funds are spent efficiently and effectively, and why I-1098 has already been endorsed by the Main Street Alliance, an organization of more than 2,000 small businesses across the state.

Why do we need I-1098?

Experts across the political spectrum agree: Washington has a tax code that harms our economy and pushes working and middle-class families to the brink, yet fails to provide the stable revenue we need to fund priorities like education and health care. 

Our current tax code forces businesses to pay B&O taxes even when they don’t turn a profit -- making it especially hard on small businesses just starting out and in economically difficult times like these. Given that small businesses are the engines of our economy, accounting for 70% of job growth, that translates to thousands of lost jobs at a time when unemployment is already soaring. And working and middle-class families pay far more than their fair share in taxes -- a recent national study found that our state's tax code ranks dead last among the 50 states in basic fairness. 

Meanwhile, our state government faces an endless roller coaster ride of boom and bust cycles that undercuts its ability to provide the core services upon which we all rely. I-1098 will be a major step forward in creating a fairer system of taxation in Washington State.

Get more information about I-1098 at the campaign's web site.


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