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February 13, 2012

National/Politics

Editorial: The Big Money Behind State Laws
New York Times, February 12, 2012

It is no coincidence that so many state legislatures have spent the last year taking the same destructive actions: making it harder for minorities and other groups that support Democrats to vote, obstructing health care reform, weakening environmental regulations and breaking the spines of public- and private-sector unions. All of these efforts are being backed — in some cases, orchestrated — by a little-known conservative organization financed by millions of corporate dollars. The American Legislative Exchange Council was founded in 1973 by the right-wing activist Paul Weyrich; its big funders include Exxon Mobil, the Olin and Scaife families and foundations tied to Koch Industries. Many of the largest corporations are represented on its board…. There is nothing illegal or unethical about ALEC’s work, except that it further demonstrates the pervasive influence of corporate money and right-wing groups on the state legislative process. There is no group with any comparable influence on the left. Lawmakers who eagerly do ALEC’s bidding have much to answer for. Voters have a right to know whether the representatives they elect are actually writing the laws, or whether the job has been outsourced to big corporate interests.

Hawaii, Alaska, D.C. Lead in Gov't Jobs / Federal, state, and local government employment all declined nationally in 2011
by Lymari Morales, Gallup, February 13, 2012

Nearly 3 out of every 10 workers in Hawaii (29.7%), Alaska (29.6%), and the District of Columbia (29.1%) work for federal, state, or local government, at a time when government employment is declining nationally at all levels. Pennsylvania has the lowest percentage of government workers, at 11.8%. …. Overall, 16.3% of U.S. workers Gallup surveyed in 2011 said they work for government, down from 17.2% in 2010 and 17.3% in 2009. This is consistent with the decline of 280,000 government jobs the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for 2011. …. State government employed the highest percentage of government workers in the U.S. overall in 2011, at 6.5%, followed by local government at 5.1% and the federal government at 4.4%. The remaining 0.3% of government workers did not specify which level of government they worked for. … "States and local governments did not have a recession, and certainly not the deep recession the private sector experienced," says Chris Edwards, a budget analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute.

Budget to Call for Taxes on Wealthy
By JARED A. FAVOLE And DAMIAN PALETTA, Wall Street Journal, FEBRUARY 12, 2012, 2:13 P.M. ET

President Barack Obama on Monday will propose a multi-trillion-dollar U.S. government budget that seeks to spur job creation and impose higher taxes on the rich to help reduce the deficit, laying down a clear election-year marker of his priorities. The budget's broad themes, according to a draft outline viewed by The Wall Street Journal, contrast sharply with Republican proposals for smaller government and lower tax revenue. …. To raise more revenue, the budget will call for the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for families that earn more than $250,000 a year and eliminate certain tax breaks. It would limit tax deductions for families who earn more than $250,000 a year, and cut 11 tax breaks for oil, gas and coal companies, which the White House says will bring in $41 billion over 10 years.

Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It
By BINYAMIN APPELBAUM and ROBERT GEBELOFF, New York Times, February 11, 2012

Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government.  …… Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice. …. Support for Republican candidates, who generally promise to cut government spending, has increased since 1980 in states where the federal government spends more than it collects. The greater the dependence, the greater the support for Republican candidates. Conversely, states that pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits tend to support Democratic candidates. And Professor Lacy found that the pattern could not be explained by demographics or social issues.

Labor unions left sour with President Obama set to sign FAA funding bill
By Keith Laing and Kevin Bogardus, The Hill,  02/11/12 10:22 AM ET

Labor’s division over the bill funding the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has helped clear the way for President Obama to sign it. Unions are split in their opposition to the measure, with some fearing its provision on union election rules endangers organizing. Union officials say they were kept in the dark about the negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that helped pass the bill. The resulting compromise changed the Railway Labor Act (RLA) so that the percentage of a company’s workforce needed to vote for holding a union election was increased from 35 to 50 percent.

House Transportation Bill 'Technical Correction' Would Strip Workers Of Pay Protections
02/12/2012 2:17 pm Dave Jamieson, huffingtonpost.com

A little-noted provision in the House Republicans' controversial energy and transportation bill would strip several thousand workers within the rail-industry of their federal minimum-wage and overtime protections, potentially making low-wage jobs pay even less. Listed in the bill under the heading "Technical Correction," provision 6602 would exempt several companies who transport rail workers from their obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the 1938 law that guarantees basic worker rights. The carveout would allow a handful of boutique contractors to pay no overtime to their drivers who haul rail workers between worksites, often driving long distances of 300 miles or more.

Editorial: Sunlight on Secret Donations
New York Times, February 12, 2012

… The Disclose 2012 Act, introduced by Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, is a tighter version of the 2010 bill that was blocked in the Senate by a Republican filibuster. The new measure would require disclosure of donor names within 24 hours for contributions of $10,000 or more — making it hard for “super PACs” and other money vehicles to take advantage of loose reporting deadlines. Union and corporate leaders and others would have to own up to sponsorship in their ads, while informing shareholders and union members how their money is spent politically. Lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association and the Sierra Club would also have to disclose their campaign spending more clearly.

Weekend payroll-tax-cut talks fail
By: Jake Sherman and Manu Raju, Politico, February 12, 2012 08:10 PM EST

…. A GOP aide familiar with the talks said Democrats have “walked back” offers, including allowing spectrum sales and higher co-pays for federal civilian pensions to pay for jobless benefits. Reid, according to several Republican aides, pushed for an increase in Transportation Security Administration fees.

Santorum’s labor problem
By Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, 10:30 AM ET, 02/10/2012

A colleague passes on this assertion by Newt Gingrich about Rick Santorum: “He was a Big Labor Republican who consistently voted with the unions.  … As for his assertion that Santorum “consistently voted with Big Labor,” there are certainly positions on which he disagreed with Big Labor. However, Santorum does have some problematic votes on union issues that he’ll need to explain.  In 1996 Santorum was one of just 14 Republican senators who voted against repealing the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires that government contract pay the prevailing wage. … In July, 1996, Santorum was also one of only 14 Republicans who voted against right-to-work legislation

Severe Conservative Syndrome
By PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times, February 12, 2012

Mitt Romney has a gift for words — self-destructive words. On Friday he did it again, telling the Conservative Political Action Conference that he was a “severely conservative governor.” As Molly Ball of The Atlantic pointed out, Mr. Romney “described conservatism as if it were a disease.” …… How did American conservatism end up so detached from, indeed at odds with, facts and rationality? For it was not always thus. After all, that health reform Mr. Romney wants us to forget followed a blueprint originally laid out at the Heritage Foundation! My short answer is that the long-running con game of economic conservatives and the wealthy supporters they serve finally went bad.

Labor Dept. Issues New Rules for Guest Workers
By JULIA PRESTON, New York Times, February 10, 2012

The Labor Department on Friday unveiled rules that reshape a program for foreign migrants in work other than agriculture, which officials said would strengthen protections for those workers and also spur recruitment of Americans for such jobs. It was the latest move in a protracted battle between employers and the Obama administration over the nation’s temporary guest workers.

State/Local

AK: Workers at Labor Department continue to report health issues
February 12, 2012 - 12:11am,  JUNEAU EMPIRE

Over the last five years, multiple health complaints from employees at the Department of Labor & Workforce Development building, nicknamed the Plywood Palace, have spurred mitigation efforts. Despite re-wrapping the 300-person building to mold removal, doctor visits, medications and employee relocation, some long-term workers are tired of feeling ill and are looking for a new place to work. A group of about 50 Labor Department employees meet with union representatives from the Alaska State Employees Association and Alaska Public Employees Association on Feb. 1 to discuss mold remediation efforts that took place in December 2011 and ongoing issues in the building, according to a letter written by DOL Employee Jade Bickmore.

Arizona public workers will get refunds
by Craig Harris on Feb. 10, 2012, Arizona Republic News

More than 200,000 public employees, including teachers, likely will receive an average refund of roughly $277 because the Legislature forced them to pay too much into the Arizona State Retirement System this fiscal year. In addition, those ASRS members will have slightly less money taken out of their paychecks to fund their pensions.

AZ: Bill aims to censor Arizona teachers' speech
Alia Beard Rau - Feb. 12, 2012  The Republic

A group of Republican state lawmakers is backing legislation that would require teachers to limit their speech to words that comply with Federal Communications Commission regulations on what can be said on TV or radio.

CA: City Manager Fires Back on Pension Projections
By Jenna Susko, Julie Putnam and Mark Villarreal |  NBC Bay Area, Saturday, Feb 11, 2012  |   3:57 PM

More fallout today after an NBC Bay Area Investigation revealed some San Jose officials have not been straightforward when it comes to future retirement costs. Unions have filed an ethics complaint against Mayor Chuck Reed, Retirement Services Director, Russell Crosby and former city actuary Michael Moehle.

Daily Kos Labor: California campaign against public worker pensions dies, but manufactured pension crises abound

CA: State employee unions aren't counting on generous contracts from Democrat Jerry Brown
Jon Ortiz. sacbee.com Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 –

Contract talks kicking off this month between the state and four employee unions present Gov. Jerry Brown with a political dilemma: How does he deal fairly with his key labor constituency without exposing himself to charges he's kowtowing to them?

CA: Controller John Chiang: January revenues 'disappointing'
Sacramento Bee, February 10, 2012

California revenues last month lagged 5.5 percent behind what Gov. Jerry Brown expected in his just-proposed January budget, a development that Controller John Chiang termed "disappointing." … According to Chiang's office, the state fell $528.4 million behind the governor's latest projection for January, including a $525 million (6.3 percent) shortage in income tax collections.

Florida NAACP coming out against prison privatization
8:12 AM, Feb. 13, 2012 |  Tallahassee.com

The Florida NAACP is coming out against prison privatization. It's a big issue in the state Senate this week, with a floor vote expected on a bill that directs the Department of Corrections to take bids on operation of nearly 30 prison facilities in 18 counties of South Florida. The proposal (SB 2038) was supposed to come to a vote almost two weeks ago, but was postponed because of unexpectedly stiff opposition by Republicans.

FL: Senate Takes Up Prison Privatization
February 13, 2012, North Escambia

Today, the Florida Senate will take up or down votes on pending amendments, and try to get a bill on privatizing prisons in most of South of Florida ready for a floor vote.

FL: State's health insurance may soon get less attractive
By Nathan Crabbe, Gainesville Sun, Saturday, February 11, 2012 at 7:56 p.m.

University of Florida employees might be reluctant to change their health insurance because they like the state program, but that might not be the case if changes proposed by the state come to pass, university officials say. …. The shift to a defined contribution could be costly for state employees, said Doug Martin, a spokesman for the Florida branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The proposal to cap state payments at $5,000 would have meant a jump of as much as $7,000 in out-of-pocket costs per employee.

FL: Volusia reaches tentative agreement with school support workers' union
BY LINDA TRIMBLE,   February 11, 2012 12:05 AM, News Journal

Negotiators for the Volusia County School Board and a union that represents school district support services employees have tentatively agreed on a new contract including $676,000 in raises, bonuses and related benefits. That represents a 1.79 percent increase in overall cost to the School Board, said Tom Wenz, a bus driver who is president of Local 850 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

IL: Williamson County Considers Laying Off Union Workers to Save Money
WSIL,  Feb 10, 2012 at 10:47 PM CST

County leaders say cutting four union jobs in the jail kitchen could save thousands of dollars every year. However, the plan isn't sitting well with everyone. … County leaders are looking for ways to save money as they prepare to unveil the $22 million facility and that could mean eliminating four union workers. ….. "We have to sit down and negotiate with the union, give them an opportunity to come up with a counter plan and if they can provide something that we can save that kind of money and keep the workers we have now we'll be happy to look at it.," said AFSCME Staff Representative Kevan Plumlee.

IL: Closing Time at Chicago Libraries Hits Women and Minorities Hard
BY KARI LYDERSEN, In These Times, FRIDAY FEB 10, 2012 11:23 AM

Budget austerity trims library staff and hours, as Mayor Emanuel and AFSCME trade accusations Sara Doe was hired as a page at a Chicago library in 2007, and immediately fell in love with the job. Earning $11.18 an hour without benefits for shelving books, directing customers and other basic tasks might not be glamorous work, she told In These Times, but she loved the human interaction and the chance to spend time in libraries, which since she was a kid have been "like museums for me"—oases of calm and knowledge. …. After an intense campaign by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31, some library staff were called back to work and Monday afternoon hours were restored, bringing the weekly total to 44 hours. But more than 100 library staff including all the pages are still out of work. …. The union held "People’s Library" hours with book readings outside several libraries during the Monday morning hours when they are now shuttered.

IN: IBM era almost over for FSSA
Angela Mapes Turner | The Journal Gazette, February 12, 2012 3:00 a.m.

The governor called for a “midcourse correction” at the state’s public-assistance agency more than two years ago, an about-face after months of criticism over Indiana’s outsourcing of services to a private contractor. Today, the state’s welfare agency has improved its speed and accuracy enough that it’s ready to bring online the last and largest county in the state – Marion County.

IN: Unions expect right-to-work will cost them members
Associated Press | Saturday, February 11, 2012 1:27 pm

After losing their fight against right-to-work legislation, labor organizers are making a desperate bid on shop room floors and at union halls to persuade members to keep paying their union dues and avoid crippling labor's influence in Indiana.

MA: Harvard to revamp its library system
Mary Carmichael.  Globe / February 11, 2012

Harvard University announced yesterday a sweeping overhaul of its labyrinthine library system, including the consolidation of services, the shuffling of many of its 900-plus employees, and offers of buyouts to others. Details will be finalized over the next few weeks, but the changes will affect staff at every level, provost Alan Garber said in a statement. … Bill Jaeger, director of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, said he appreciated the warm tone of Garber and Faust’s recent statements compared with the harsher tone of the January meetings. But he still wanted more details. “There’s been a cloak of secrecy wrapped around the reorganization plan,’’ he said. “It doesn’t make any sense. It’s a library, not a military organization.’’

MA: Library workers turning to union
By Jennifer Fenn Lefferts, Globe / February 12, 2012

Fed up with what employees call a lack of respect from management, workers from the Concord Free Public Library are trying to join a municipal employees union.  Leslie Wilson, the library’s curator of special collections, said their goal is to improve working conditions for the 40 employees. ….. The employees approached Council 93 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees late last year about joining the union.

MD: Garrett lawmakers won’t pursue collective bargaining
Cumberland Times-News, February 11, 2012

Garrett County’s two lawmakers in Annapolis have decided not to pursue the Garrett County commissioners’ request to be granted legislative authority to mandate collective bargaining for County Roads Department employees. Chairman James Raley said that after a lengthy strike in the 1970s, commissioners had the option of whether they wanted to voluntarily participate in the collective bargaining agreement with the Roads Department. There were no laws in place mandating the agreement.  Roads Department employees are represented by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 67, Local 1834.

MD: AFSCME backs more changes to pensions for judges than commission recommends
MEGAN POINSKI, LEN LAZARICK, Maryland Reporter.com, February 11, 2012

The Judicial Compensation Commission is recommending practically no changes to judges’ pensions, except for an increase in contributions by new judges. But the largest state employees union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, asked the Senate budget committee Wednesday to consider broader changes to judicial retirement benefits to bring them more in line with retirement benefits for the average state worker. ….. AFSCME deputy director Sue Esty said the commission proposal for little change “does a disservice to thousands of other state employees.”

MI: Detroit crisis may force sale of crucial assets
BY DARREN A. NICHOLS THE DETROIT NEWS, FEBRUARY 13, 2012 AT 1:00 AM

Pontiac sold the Silverdome, Wayne County got rid of golf courses, and Dearborn unloaded a senior citizen complex in Florida. Now, the city of Detroit's most venerable assets — from Belle Isle to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel — could end up on the auction block as the city fights for its financial life.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's education plan actually a cut, economist says
February 11, 2012 |  Detroit Free Press

What Gov. Rick Snyder described as a modest increase in the school aid budget for 2013 is actually a cut, says the former director of the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency.

MI: Rick Snyder's plan to help businesses could come at communities' expense
February 13, 2012 |  Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki and Kristi Tanner, Detroit Free Press

River Rouge is hoping Gov. Rick Snyder means it when he says he would replace the tax businesses pay on personal property. Snyder is pushing the Legislature to repeal the tax, which brought in $1.2 billion in 2010. But if the state repeals it without finding another way to replace the money from it, River Rouge will lose about $7.9 million, or about 57% of its property tax revenue.

MN: Dayton vetoes lawsuit reform bills
Associated Press   02/10 11:48:56 AM

Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed four Republican-sponsored lawsuit reform bills and is again criticizing the GOP as "too extreme to lead." … Dayton said three of the bills came straight from the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

MN: Republicans introduce 'Right to Work' proposal
Friday, February 10, 2012 10:20 am By Katy Meeks, GrandRapidsMN.com

- Late last week, Senate Republicans introduced the constitutional amendment that Democrats most feared - the "right to work" proposal.  While the GOP says it's freedom for workers, Democrats label it the "right to work for less." Following the announcement, state Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, commented on the proposal he said will hurt Minnesota's economy and force even lower wages on struggling middle-class workers.

Missouri lawmakers ready to revive bills vetoed by Nixon
By The Associated PressSunday, February 12, 2012

Missouri Republican lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon appear headed for a repeat of their fight over changes to the state’s workplace discrimination laws and a requirement for voters to show a photo ID at the polls.

NM: Teachers Would Pay More Into Pension Fund
By Dan Boyd / Journal Sat, Feb 11, 2012 

Current New Mexico teachers and other education workers would have to pay more into their retirement plans but would not see their benefits cut, or face a minimum retirement age, under retooled legislation that could hit the Senate floor as soon as today. …. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents a number of higher-education workers, says the legislation in its current form is preferable to cutting employees’ benefits.

NM: Union Workers Criticize Rio Rancho
By Rosalie Rayburn / Journal Sat, Feb 11, 2012 

Leaders of unions representing Rio Rancho employees, police and firefighters sent a memo to city councilors this week criticizing them for lack of communication and accountability. The memo called for an “immediate change” in the way the council handles city spending, claiming the council has failed to meet contractual obligations with the unions. … Leaders of the Rio Rancho Fire Fighters Association, Rio Rancho Police and Communications Association Local 7911, and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3277 said they wanted to act together to ask councilors to consider pay increases for union employees, which they said are long overdue.

NY: Unions knock Cuomo's proposals
1:51 AM, Feb. 13, 2012 |  LoHud.com

The music in the television ad thumps and carries an ominous tone. The announcer bellows: “It’s time for frank talk about the proposed New York state executive budget. The truth is, what you don’t know can hurt you.” The ad from the Civil Service Employees Association, the state’s largest public-employees union, released Feb. 3 rails against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal. It claims the budget would erode jobs and decimate the middle class. There’s just one obvious omission: The ad doesn’t mention Cuomo.

NY: Group homes hiring staff / Jobs campaign is launched to fill hundreds of openings in state and private sites
By Rick Karlin, Times Union,  11:33 p.m., Friday, February 10, 2012

State agencies may be in a consolidation mode, but at least one office is listing between 150 and 250 job openings at any given time. …… Relations with the agency's state workers union, Civil Service Employees Association, have been uneasy amid these changes. While the union has fought efforts to get rid of bad employees, union members have also complained of poor management decisions. They've even outlined some of their complaints on a video on the union's website, http://www.csealocal1000.org

NY: Hospitals Flout Charity Aid Law
By NINA BERNSTEIN, New York Times, February 12, 2012

…. New York’s charity care system, partly financed by an 8.95 percent surcharge on hospital bills, is one of the most complicated in the nation, but many states have wrestled with aggressive debt collection by hospitals in recent years. Like New York, several passed laws curbing hospitals’ pursuit of unpaid bills, including Illinois, California and Minnesota. But a new study of New York hospitals’ practices and state records finds that most medical centers are violating the rules without consequences, even as the state government ignores glaring problems in the hospitals’ own reports. …. The study found that some hospitals did not provide financial aid applications at all, and that many made impermissible demands for irrelevant documents or failed to supply key information, like eligibility rules for big discounts required by state law in 2007.

NY: Judge rules against unions in latest wage freeze fight
By Aaron Besecker, Buffalo NEWS  February 10, 2012, 2:53 PM

City employee unions' latest attempt to reopen a legal challenge of a 38-month wage freeze was halted this morning. A federal judge ruled that a group of unions, representing teachers and other school district and city employees, waited too long to fight the issue in federal court and failed to show "extraordinary circumstances" needed to reopen the matter. In a 14-page decision, U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny denied a motion filed June 30 by group of unions including the Buffalo Teachers Federation, Local 264, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and others.

OH: Kasich Fails to Address the Real State of His State
BY CLYDE WEISS | AFSCME blog, FEBRUARY 10, 2012

…. Christopher Mabe, president of Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA)/ AFSCME Local 11, said Governor Kasich failed in his State-of-the-State address to address key issues affecting the state.

OH: Crain's editorial: So-so so far
Crain’s Cleveland Business, 4:30 am, February 13, 2012

…. Gov. Kasich uttered not one word about collective bargaining in his 85 minutes on stage last week. Whether the omission signifies that reform is dead or whether he's simply waiting before readdressing the issue, only time will reveal. In the meantime, he deserves credit for putting the derailed train that was Ohio government back on the tracks. It's too bad he didn't heed the warning signals that his engine was going way too fast.

Okla. state employees near 6 years without pay raise
kxii.com, 11:29 PM Feb 12, 2012

Despite seeing a workload increase it's been nearly six years since Oklahoma state workers have seen a pay raise. According to reports it's unlikely a raise will come anytime soon.

PA: Scranton Strains for Rebound Following Pennsylvania Court Ruling
February 13, 2012, 8:18 AM EST  Romy Varghese (Bloomberg)

Scranton Mayor Christopher Doherty is blunt when asked about a court order forcing his Pennsylvania city to pay about $30 million in wages withheld from police and firefighters under a state-approved fiscal recovery plan. “I don’t have the money,” said Doherty, 53. As for the chance of borrowing the cash, more than half of the city’s projected general-fund revenue, he added, “there’s no financial institution that’s going to give me $30 million to pay it.”

PA: Pleasant Ridge workers approve deal that includes wage freeze
BY KEVIN FLOWERS, Erie Times-News, FEBRUARY 11, 2012 6:50 AM EST

Pleasant Ridge Manor workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union ratified a new, three-year contract Friday that includes a wage freeze for the first two years. Zollie Rayner, an AFSCME representative, said union workers ratified the labor contract "by a large margin.''

SD: Collective Bargaining Rights Upheld in SD
BY CLYDE WEISS | AFSCME blog, FEBRUARY 10, 2012

Activists from AFSCME Council 59 and other supporters of workers’ rights in South Dakota defeated an effort to revoke collective bargaining for public employees there.

SD Senate panel approves bonuses for state workers
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS February 10, 2012, 4:40PM

A South Dakota Senate committee on Friday approved one-time bonus pay for state workers. About 13,000 public employees have foregone any salary increase for the past three years while South Dakota grappled with tightened finances. Gov. Dennis Daugaard and a subcommittee of Senate and House lawmakers worked together to come up with the bill, which would provide workers with at least $2,300 extra in their paychecks on March 30.

WA: State budget writers get good news with $200M windfall
By Andrew Garber, Seattle Times, Friday, February 10, 2012 at 8:52 PM 

The Legislature's job of closing the state's $1.5 billion budget shortfall got a little easier on Friday with news of at least a $200 million windfall due to reduced demands for state services.

WI: In Wisconsin, assessing a new labor law’s impact
By Daniel C. Vock, Stateline, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2012

.. For Ladwig and other local leaders in Wisconsin, however, this new era of managerial flexibility comes with some downsides. The biggest of them is that, in exchange for the collective bargaining changes, the state budget significantly scaled back its payments to local governments and schools. In many places, that decline in state aid outweighs the savings they enjoy from reducing employee benefits.

WI: Georgetown Panel Examines Wisconsin Uprising
by Mike Hall, Feb 10, 2012, AFL-CIO blog

… On Wednesday, Feb. 15, the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University, will hold a special discussion focusing on what the Wisconsin protests mean a year later; the history, law, and politics of collective bargaining in the public sector; and what these public sector labor struggles mean for the country more generally. … Georgetown University professor and Kalmanowitz Initiative Executive Director Joseph McCartin will lead the panel.  Panelists include Craig Becker, a former National Labor Relations Board member, Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin (IAFF), Joseph P. Rugola, executive director of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE/AFSCME) and Newsweek and Daily Beast contributor, Eleanor Clift.

WI: Walker’s Attack on Wisconsin Values Anything But Progressive
FEBRUARY 10, 2012, AFSCME blog

Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane this week wrote a column claiming Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is a “progressive.” This response from Wisconsin State Employees Union/AFSCME Council 24 Pres. Paulette Feld tells the truth about Walker’s record. It’s clear that Charles Lane doesn’t know much about Wisconsin. Sadly, that didn’t stop him from offering up a through-the-looking-glass take on Scott Walker’s assault on Wisconsin values.

WI: State spends millions for 202 new jobs
Kathleen Gallagher and Mark Johnson of the Journal Sentinel, Feb. 11, 2012

A state-subsidized investment program yielded huge returns for three out-of-state financial firms and their partners while netting just 202 new jobs for Wisconsin, at a cost of more than $247,000 per job, a Journal Sentinel analysis has found.

WI: Raises sought for some Waukesha County workers
Laurel Walker of the Journal Sentinel, Feb. 12, 2012

…. More than 400 clerical, building services and other courthouse and office building workers previously covered by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will get a 2% pay increase in 2012 under the proposal, if approved. The across-the-board raise and related benefits will cost $360,582, but pension changes will save the county $915,219.

WI: Gov. Scott Walker Pockets Money Intended For Wisconsin Foreclosure Victims To Make Up State Budget Shortfall
Rick Ungar, Forbes blogs, Feb 11, 2012

After successfully stripping Wisconsin state public employees of their collective bargaining rights, working to deny low income residents the right to vote, and attempting to fend off the damaging effects of the burgeoning illegal electioneering scandal that is enveloping his administration and threatens to suck the Governor himself into the vortex, Scott Walker has found a new project worthy of his time and intents. Walker is directing the State of Wisconsin to keep a large chunk of the money from this week’s national settlement with five of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders —money intended to help compensate those who were victims of the illegal mortgage practices that caused so many to lose their homes and to aid in the rebuilding of stricken neighborhoods—so that the state’s budget gap can be closed and Gov. Walker can head into his recall election able to claim that he has balanced the state budget.

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