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June 8, 2011

National/Politics

AFL-CIO chief amplifies warning to Democrats
By Kevin Bogardus, The Hill
06/07/11 01:42 PM ET

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka amplified his call for a politically independent labor movement Tuesday and said unions too often are holding "a canceled check" after Election Day. Trumka rallied hundreds of nurses at a conference hosted by the National Nurses Union. The nurses are in Washington this week to lobby lawmakers for a financial transactions tax that could help pay for social services. ….. Hundreds of nurses from the AFL-CIO affiliate protested outside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

Related
New York Times: Nurses Rally for Health Care Funding
AFL-CIO blog: Nurses Tell Chamber, Politicians: Time to Cure America

Sec.-Treas. Saunders: ‘We’re the Last Line of Defense’ for the Middle Class
BY CLYDE WEISS | AFSCME Greenline blog
JUNE 07, 2011

AFSCME Sec.-Treas. Lee A. Saunders, addressing hundreds of activists at our State Battles Summit this morning, declared that “corporate-backed politicians are trying to pull us apart rather than bring us together. It’s about power – pure and simple.”

Bernanke: Sharp Spending Cuts Could Hurt the Economy
By MICHAEL GRUNWALD, Time Swampland
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

…… But buried beneath his Feddish verbiage, Bernanke did issue an interesting warning to Congress: Don’t make a bad economy worse with big short-term spending cuts. He may be a Republican, but he’s no Tea Party Republican. Bernanke didn’t call for more fiscal stimulus, but he strongly cautioned against drastic anti-stimulus, noting that “a sharp fiscal consolidation focused on the very near term could be self-defeating.”

How will history judge Obama’s economic policy?
By Harold Meyerson, Washington Post
June 7

….. With 93 percent of the private-sector workforce not represented by unions, and with unemployment still high, it should have been clear that American employees had no power to increase their wages or dig out of the debt they had incurred as their incomes stagnated. ….. This recession required — and very much still requires — a massive public employment program to fill the hole created by our offshoring private sector and Americans families’ towering debt. Such a program would have required a massive and brilliant sales job from Obama at the outset of his presidency, given the decades of the American right’s delegitimization of government.

Threats to Town Halls Stir Voter Backlash
By KATE LINEBAUGH, Wall Street Journal
JUNE 8, 2011

Michigan has 1,773 municipalities, 609 school districts, 1,071 fire departments and 608 police departments. Gov. Rick Snyder wants some of them to disappear. …. Around the country public officials are asking themselves similar questions. Plunging property-tax receipts and rising pension and health-care costs have pushed many municipalities to the brink of financial collapse. The idea is that local governments can operate with fewer workers and smaller budgets if they do things like combine fire departments, create regional waste authorities and fold towns and cities into counties. …. Michigan's laws make municipal mergers difficult. Minimum-staffing requirements and prevailing-wage laws protect public employees and make it hard to cut payroll costs.

Faded Malls Leave Cities in the Lurch / Switch to Online Shopping Undermines a Leading Revenue Source, Sales Taxes
By MIGUEL BUSTILLO And KRIS HUDSON, Wall Street Journal
JUNE 8, 2011

American cities, long reliant on sales-tax revenue from retailers to support municipal budgets, are facing a harsh reckoning as the era of the shopping center as municipal cash cow appears to be at an end. Sales taxes are a critical source of funding for many cities, typically second in size only to property taxes. They accounted for roughly 23% of all U.S. state and local tax collection in 2008, the latest year available, according to the Census Bureau.

Pawlenty Calls for Greater Tax and Spending Cuts Than G.O.P. Rivals
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR, New York Times
June 7, 2011

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty called on Tuesday for more than $2 trillion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses over the next decade and two to three times as much in federal spending reductions and loophole closings, saying that such policies would drive rapid economic growth. ........ And he called for cuts in programs that are better done by private companies. “We can start by applying what I call the Google test,” Mr. Pawlenty said. “If you can find a good or service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn’t need to be doing it.” As examples he cited the Postal Service, Amtrak and federal home-mortgage agencies.

Sen. Kyl refines Republicans’ demands in debt-ceiling talks
By Felicia Sonmez, Washington Post
June 7

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican on Tuesday spelled out GOP leaders’ conditions in the negotiations over reducing the federal deficit, offering the most specific outline of the party’s demands thus far. Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) told reporters that Republicans want $2.5 trillion in budget savings in exchange for voting to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion borrowing limit through the end of next year.

Judge Won’t Reconsider Decision on Corporate Donations
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, New York Times
JUNE 7, 2011, 5:29 PM

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request by prosecutors to reconsider his ruling last month striking down a ban on direct contributions from corporations to political candidates, setting into motion what could be a pivotal court battle over one of the biggest legal and political issues of the day. In his ruling, Judge James C. Cacheris of Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia stuck by the reasoning he used in late May: that the Supreme Court’s logic in last year’s Citizens United decision, which struck down limits on independent spending by corporations in election campaigns, should also apply to campaign contributions by corporations.

Labor Demand Gets Softer
By MOTOKO RICH, New York Times
June 7, 2011, 1:01 PM

Last week brought dismal news from the labor market as the government reported feeble job creation in May. A government report on Tuesday shows that employers are not accelerating their demand for workers. In April, the number of job openings was 3 million, down a touch from 3.1 million in March. And the number of unemployed workers for every job opening nudged up to 4.6 in April from 4.3 a month earlier.

Blame Grover Norquist for Dismantling Financial Services Reform, Democracy
Jane White Author, "America, Welcome to the Poorhouse", Huffington Post
06/ 7/11 11:30 AM ET

…. As I said in a previous post, the finger of blame for this corruption points directly at Grover Norquist, who is more famous for his founding of the anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform, which not only exhorts Republicans to pledge never to raise taxes but to never end tax breaks, despite the fact that doing so would eliminate the deficit. But his even more evil contribution is the K Street Project, co-founded in 1995 with then-House Republican Whip and now-crook Tom DeLay of Texas. The idea: Republicans would take over the big lobbying firms as successfully as they took hold of the House. As a result, lobbying outlays more than doubled between 1998 and 2008 alone and 42% of former House members and 50% of Senators became lobbyists between 1998 and 2004, according to Public Citizen.

House Republicans Look To Privatize Social Security
Benjy Sarlin | TPM
June 7, 2011, 9:26AM

Republican leaders left Social Security untouched in their House budget this year, but a group of GOP lawmakers are looking to fill the gap themselves with legislation that would create a voluntary privatized version of the program. Introduced by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), who also chairs the House's campaign efforts at the NRCC, the "Savings Account For Every American Act" would allow people to immediately opt out of Social Security in favor of a private "S.A.F.E." account. Eventually the program would expand to let employers send their matching contribution to workers' Social Security to a "S.A.F.E." account as well.

Study Sees Cuts to Health Plans
By JANET ADAMY, Wall Street Journal
JUNE 8, 2011

A report by McKinsey & Co. has found that 30% of employers are likely to stop offering workers health insurance after the bulk of the Obama administration's health overhaul takes effect in 2014. The findings come as a growing number of employers are seeking waivers from an early provision in the overhaul that requires them to enrich their benefits this year. At the end of April, the administration had granted 1,372 employers, unions and insurance companies one-year exemptions from the law's requirement that they not cap annual benefit payouts below $750,000 per person a year.

Kansas gets involved in another health care lawsuit
By JOHN HANNA, AP
Tue, Jun. 07, 2011

Attorney General Derek Schmidt has brought Kansas into another lawsuit against the federal health care overhaul enacted last year, and he said Tuesday that the move will help states flesh out arguments they expect to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Medicaid: The Next Battleground
Ethan Rome, Huffington Post
06/7/11 08:58 AM ET

If the Republicans get their way and turn Medicaid into a so-called block grant, millions of seniors would be thrown out of nursing homes. Middle class families would be slammed with crushing health care costs for their parents while struggling to make ends meet, save for their own retirement and send kids to college.

15 States Try To Cut Back On Medicaid Programs
JULIE ROVNER and RENEE MONTAGNE
NPR Morning Edition [
June 7, 2011

Medicaid provides health care to people with low incomes, who also meet certain other categories. And while the federal government pays more than half of the bill, the share the states pay consumes 22 percent of the average state's budget. That's more than they pay for education, transportation or other large budget items. New Jersey is just one of 15 states around the country trying to cut back its Medicaid program this year or next. With us to look at why Medicaid is posing such a financial burden on states is NPR health policy correspondent Julie Rovner.

Medicaid Gets Tough on Hospital-Caused Injuries
By TRAVIS SANFORD , Courthouse News
June 8, 2011

Medicaid will no longer reimburse states for patient expenses arising from the treatment of so-called "never events" - as in such an event should never happen - like leaving objects in a patient's body after surgery, according to rules issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Medicare pay board is losing support
By: Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico
June 8, 2011 04:55 AM EDT

One of the key provisions in President Barack Obama’s health care reform law — his preferred method for getting Medicare costs under control — is facing a groundswell of opposition from unexpected corners. Several House Democrats have signed on to support a bill to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel created by the law that is supposed to help control rising costs in Medicare. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a prominent supporter of the law, is now actively lobbying for its repeal, too.

States push to convert interstate highways into toll roads
By Daniel C. Vock, Stateline
JUNE 08, 2011

…. Virtually every state, like Rhode Island, faces a funding crunch for roads. The federal piggy bank for highway maintenance, a major funding source for states, is nearly empty. The bulk of its money is raised through the federal gas tax, which has not been increased since 1993. Despite several moves by Congress in the last three years to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, that money is expected to run out again by late 2012. The consensus on Capitol Hill, where Congress is drafting a new highway funding bill, is that the new highway plan will have less money than in the past for transportation. That puts further pressure on states to find other sources for road repairs. States have been hesitant to raise their own gas taxes, too, and their poor fiscal conditions leave them with few options for finding money elsewhere in their budgets.

Government Printing Office wants to offer buyouts to 330 workers
By Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post
1:48 PM ET, 06/07/2011

With a declining need for paper copies of government budgets, booklets and instruction manuals, the Government Printing Office is hoping to scale back with plans to offer buyouts to about 330 employees as soon as this fall.

Wal-Mart works with unions abroad, but not at home
By Ylan Q. Mui, Washington Post
June 7

Retailing giant Wal-Mart faced an unusual request when it sought government approval recently to buy a chain of stores in South Africa. …. The exchange highlights the complex relationship Wal-Mart has with its employees as unions become as globalized as the retailing giant’s footprint. Its employees are not unionized in the United States, where the retailer has become infamous for its staunch opposition to labor groups. Even in Canada, it closed a store after workers there organized. But in the United Kingdom, Wal-Mart touts a growing roster of union employees and has negotiated contracts with entrenched labor groups in Brazil and Argentina for decades.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, Legislative Urgency as Recall Threat Looms
By MONICA DAVEY, New York Times
June 7, 2011

The gears of government tend to grind slowly. But in Wisconsin lately they are racing at turbocharged speed. ….. By February, he announced a “budget repair bill,” which, he said, would help solve a budget shortfall, in part by limiting collective bargaining rights for most public employees in Wisconsin. The proposal set off a wave of protest, drawing union supporters to the Capitol by the thousands and spurring the Senate’s 14 Democrats to flee to Illinois to try to prevent a vote. …. Among political experts, a debate has emerged here over whether Republicans should slow their feverish pace and get through the recall elections or push as fast as possible with their agenda while they can.

Recall primaries could be costly to taxpayers
Patrick Marley and Emma Roller of the Journal Sentinel
June 7, 2011

A Republican effort to stall recall elections by forcing Democratic primaries to be held will cost taxpayers at least tens of thousands of dollars, a check of local election clerks shows. Meanwhile, the top Senate Republican said Tuesday that all GOP recall targets were familiar with the plan to delay the recall elections by fielding fake Democrats in primaries. Earlier, some of those recall targets claimed they didn't know about the plan.

State group files campaign finance complaints against 3 recall targets
10:08 AM, Jun. 7, 2011 | Daily Herald

Three Democratic and Republican senators targeted for recall elections failed to disclose required occupation and employer information about campaign contributors who gave them more than $50,000, according to complaints filed Tuesday by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Senators tangle over bill to outsource road help
Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel
June 7, 2011

Counties and local governments would have to give more of their highway work to private contractors under a budget provision that is drawing opposition from lawmakers from both parties. The budget measure would require local governments to contract with private road builders - rather than using their own workers - for projects that cost $100,000 or more in certain situations.

Abele pushes for deal with 2 unions
Steve Schultze of the Journal Sentinel
June 7, 2011

A push by two Milwaukee County unions to get contract extensions in advance of a new state law restricting public employee collective bargaining got an assist Tuesday from County Executive Chris Abele, who urged supervisors to get the job done to save money on benefit costs. …. Under terms of that law, unions without current contracts would be subject to concessions unilaterally ordered by government employers as soon as the state law takes effect. That's the situation for 3,500 county employees who are members of District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, unless a new contract is negotiated. Those parks, airport, highway and social workers have been working under terms of an agreement that expired in 2009.

Ohio

Senate curtails prevailing wage / Panel changes undercut ceiling Kasich, House put on projects
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8, 2011 03:07 AM
BY JIM SIEGEL
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Senate President Tom Niehaus' effort to broker deals over union-scale wages for public-construction projects and changes to public-construction law are likely to be key points of debate as the budget moves toward a conference committee with the House. Also among the dozens of budget changes approved by the Senate Finance Committee last night is a provision that would allow state universities to privatize their parking facilities and dormitories, and allow counties to sell their facilities. Niehaus called it another option for entities to cope with budget cuts.

SB5 renders school boards powerless to run local schools
Jun 8, 2011
Mike Sussman, Tribune

If you are in the conservative camp, you probably think Senate Bill 5 is a good idea for the state. If you are a progressive, you likely oppose the bill. The main point of the legislation is to limit collective bargaining by public employee unions. This includes police, firefighters, teachers and state and municipal employees. …. Apparently, state legislators have short memories of their days as school board members. If any legislation were introduced to limit the influence of local boards, those who then served, such as Hayes and Seitz, would have fought against such turf grabs.

SB5 rally planned for Saturday at Statehouse
By MARC KOVAC, Daily Record
June 8, 2011

….. Cupp drove his motorcycle to a press conference a few blocks from the Statehouse on Monday to show his support for a rally planned in Columbus this weekend. The event, scheduled for Saturday from noon-5 p.m. in a downtown parking lot rented for the day, will include an hour-long motorcycle ride around the Statehouse grounds.

County signs off on union contract
By Tiffany Y. Latta, Springfield News Sun
Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Clark County’s largest employee union gave up raises this year — and potentially the next two years — under a contract reached with Clark County commissioners on Tuesday. Workers could receive merit raises in 2012 and 2013, if the budget allows. Commissioners unanimously approved a three-year contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Ohio Council 8, Local 1939, that is effective Jan. 1, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2013.

Michigan

Health bill could threaten transit funds / Unions argue feds require respect for bargaining rights
1:02 AM, Jun. 8, 2011 |
Scott Davis, Lansing State Journal

Proposed legislation that would mandate health care premiums paid by public employees could jeopardize more than $100 million in federal transit funding, employee representatives say. Speaking Tuesday before the state House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee, Todd Tennis, a lobbyist for Amalgamated Transit Union, said the union's legal counsel concluded transit authorities could lose the federal funding because of the unions' loss of collective bargaining power.

Conservative group: Fake eviction notices were 'meant to startle people'
11:37 AM, Jun. 7, 2011 |
JOHN GALLAGHER, DETROIT FREE PRESS

The state director of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity offered no apologies today for papering homes in Detroit’s Delray district Monday with fake eviction notices. Bearing the words “Eviction Notice” in large type, the bogus notices told homeowners their properties could be taken by the Michigan Department of Transportation to make way for the New International Trade Crossing bridge project. The NITC is the subject of debate in Lansing, and Americans for Prosperity is lobbying heavily against it.

Richardville becomes latest Michigan recall target
3:43 PM, Jun. 7, 2011
Associated Press

The highest-ranked member of the Michigan Senate has become the latest target of an attempted recall campaign. Proposed petition language seeking to recall Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville was filed this week in Monroe County. The petition cites Richardville's support for recent tax policy changes.

Michigan City, Under State Receivership, Set to Bond
Wednesday,
By Caitlin Devitt, Bond Buyer

Following passage of a new state law aimed at assuaging investor fears of bankruptcy, the city of Ecorse next week will sell $9.3 million of financial recovery bonds, making it one of Michigan’s only municipalities to enter the bond market while under state-controlled receivership. Located in Wayne County about 10 miles outside Detroit, Ecorse is a small, lower-income suburb that came under state-mandated emergency financial management in October 2009.

State/Local

Judge strikes down part of Montgomery County bargaining law
By Michael Laris, Washington Post (MD)
June 7

A Montgomery County judge on Tuesday struck down part of a collective-bargaining law covering government employees, the latest in a swirl of developments that could reshape the rules governing relations between the county and its workers. … In a ruling from the bench Tuesday, Rubin said that a provision of the collective-bargaining law requiring a county executive to include the results of collective bargaining in the executive’s recommended budget violates the charter. …. Attorneys for the Municipal and County Government Employees Organization, which represents thousands of Montgomery employees, said the union will appeal the ruling.

Unions Agree to No Raises, Increased Pension Contributions
By Bryan P. Sears |Patch (MD)
June 7, 2011

Sherrif's deputies, firefighters and some other union employees will not face layoffs over the next three years in return for foregoing raises and increased pension contributions for new hires, according to a new labor deal with Baltimore County. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced the agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 25, Baltimore County Professional Fire Fighters, as well as American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents county employees in skilled trade and laborer positions.

State government shutdown contingency plans stay secret
12:12 AM, Jun. 8, 2011
JASON CLAYWORTH AND WILLIAM PETROSK, Des Moines Register (IA)

….. The Branstad administration's refusal to disclose plans for a possible shutdown is drawing criticism from Danny Homan, state president of Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. His union represents thousands of state employees who could be without paychecks after July 1. "I think he owes it to the people who work for him to lay out his contingency plans," said Homan.

Iowa union members to rally at the Capitol today
2:10 PM, Jun 7, 2011 | by Jason Clayworth |
Des Moines Register

A union rally against the Republicans so-called “Frankenstein” bill is set today for 5:30 p.m. at on the west steps of the State Capitol. …. . Members from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Iowa Federation of Labor, South Central Federation of Labor and the Iowa State Education Association are all expected at the event.

Democratic Rule Remakes Connecticut’s Legislature
By PETER APPLEBOME, New York Times
June 7, 2011

….. As legislators wrap up the first session in 20 years with a Democratic governor, who is working with two chambers in the Legislature under Democratic control, it is clear that either they did not receive or they decided to tear up the antitax, budget-slashing, confront-the-unions script that has characterized state legislative sessions elsewhere.…. On finances, the Legislature adopted a $40.1 billion budget that relies on $1.4 billion in tax increases, about $800 million in cuts and a projected $1.6 billion in union concessions on pay and benefits over two years. The concessions are subject to ratification by state employee unions by June 24. Reaction from union members so far has been wildly mixed, and a failure to approve the givebacks would leave the budget in tatters.

Florida to drug-test welfare recipients
American City & County
Jun 7, 2011 4:42 PM

…. Also, ACLU of Florida filed suit on May 31 to block Scott’s Executive Order 11-58 requiring drug testing for state employees. That lawsuit was filed on behalf of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 79, which represents 50,000 public workers who are now subject to the new drug-testing regime and Richard Flamm, a 17-year state employee and Research Scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission located at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.

Jackson Health System appoints COO
BY JOHN DORSCHNER
MIAMIHERALD.COM
06.07.11

In a much-awaited move, Jackson Health System announced Tuesday the hiring of a chief operating officer, Don Steigman, a veteran South Florida hospital administrator with a quarter-century of experience. Steigman becomes Jackson’s No. 2, reporting to Chief Executive Carlos Migoya, a career banker who served less than a year as Miami city manager and took over Jackson in early May. Several board members said when they voted for Migoya that it was crucial for him to pick a seasoned hospital administrator to be his COO.

Park privatization: Florida joins bandwagon for RV sites
By Russ & Tiña De Maris | RV News
June 7, 2011 - 12:59 pm –

The Sunshine State has now joined a host of state and other government entities giving thought to privatization of at least some park functions. Last fall the agency overseeing the state’s parks, the Division of Environmental Protection (DEP), threatened to close the gates on 53 of the parks it operates. The problems cited was the one affecting nearly every government: Too little money.

Council approves union contract: City, CIP budgets both unanimously adopted
By Jessica Miller examiner-enterprise.com (OK)
Tuesday, June 7, 2011 3:32 PM CDT

A contract with the City of Bartlesville non-uniformed employee union was unanimously approved by the Bartlesville City Council during a meeting Monday evening. The approval comes after the council had unanimously rejected a proposed agreement between the city and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO Local 1180, for the current fiscal year on May 9 and directed staff members to continue negotiations with the union. ….. A law requiring cities, with populations of least 35,000, to collectively bargain with non-uniformed employees is in effect until Nov. 1. The law was repealed in April.

Jefferson County Gets Ready to Lay Off 1,000 Workers
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
By Shelly Sigo, Bond Buyer (AL)

Jefferson County commissioners Tuesday began making plans for placing nearly 1,000 workers on administrative leave without pay as they await legislative action to help solve the Alabama county’s ongoing financial crisis. Layoffs could begin Monday and last until Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

La Gov.'s health insurance chief resigns
By MELINDA DESLATTE , Associated Press
06.07.11, 10:14 AM EDT

The chief executive officer of the health insurance office for Louisiana employees and retirees is resigning after receiving strong criticism from lawmakers about his work to help privatize office operations.

Welfare agency leader lacks support of union
Kevin Graman The Spokesman-Review
June 8, 2011

A vote by union employees of the state Children’s Administration overwhelmingly expressed no confidence in the agency’s head, the Washington Federation of State Employees said. …. With 37 percent of the 2,273-member bargaining unit voting, 772 workers, or 98.6 percent, voted to express no confidence in Denise Revels Robinson, Department of Social and Health Services assistant secretary who assumed leadership of the Children’s Administration in October 2009. Eleven members voted in support of her, and 66 ballots were voided.

The Queens library looks to Council to stave off Bloomberg again
BY DAN ROSENBLUM, Capital New York
7:00 am Jun. 8, 2011 |

In front of the Central Library in Jamaica on Tuesday, unionized librarians and elected officials staged a protest against $25.3 million in cuts for the Queens Library system. The amount represents a loss of almost a third of the system's funding. Members of DC37 and the Queens Library Guild Local 1321, part of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, provided the noise, chanting, “They say cutback, we say fight back.”

Colleen Wheaton of CSEA Central Region 5 says merger of Upstate Medical University and Community General hospitals good for community
Syracuse.com (NY)
Wednesday, June 08, 2011, 5:00 AM

On behalf of the tens of thousands of health care workers represented by CSEA, many right here in Onondaga County, I am writing in support of Upstate Medical University’s acquisition of Community General Hospital. This merger is a positive step that will maintain important health care services and keep jobs in Central New York.

Tax cap would hurt minority students, say parents, teachers and NAACP
By Simon Garron-Caine, Legislative Gazette (NY)
June 07, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's property tax cap plan will disproportionately affect minority students by exacerbating funding differences between high- and low-income school districts, according to tax cap opponents who rallied outside Senate chambers Tuesday afternoon. …… Easton, backed by parents of schoolchildren and representatives from good government group Citizen Action, the Civil Service Employees Association and New York State United Teachers, said the funding gap between "high needs" and "low needs" schools is currently $3.2 billion.

Budget Cuts Could Beach Some City Swimmers
by Jason Lewis, Gotham Gazette (NY)
Jun 2011

……. For the second straight year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed cuts in funding for New York City swimming pools to help close the city's budget gap. The budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 calls for the closure of four, as yet unnamed, city swimming pools and a shortened season for all pools. ….. "It will be difficult because there are other competing interests that may take some of the priority away from swimming pools," said Peter Stein, president of lifeguard supervisors for the union District Council 37. "The budget in general has significant other things that seem to be catching more attention."

Bill Aims to Protect Hotel Workers From Sexual Abuse
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE, NY Times
June 7, 2011, 12:01 PM

Two Democratic lawmakers have introduced legislation to require hotel and motel owners in New York State to provide sexual harassment training to their employees and to provide a clear system for reporting episodes of sexual abuse.

Indiana legislative committee to study illegal entry ruling
5:49 PM, Jun. 7,
Lesley Stedman, Courier Journal

…. Among the issues to be examined: * Right-to-work. The Indiana House considered so-called right-to-work legislation this year that would let employees opt out of paying dues or fees to unions, even if the groups represent them. The bill died when House Democrats walked out for five weeks in protest, but GOP leaders said then they wanted the issue studied before the 2012 session.

Wharton Considers Privatizing Sanitation
MyFoxMemphis (TN)
Tuesday, 07 Jun 2011, 11:59 AM CDT

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is willing to consider a proposal that would privatize sanitation services in an effort to balance the city's budget. City Councilman Kemp Conrad projects that privatizing the division will save millions, but picketers outside City Hall with AFSCME Local 1733 think otherwise.

Cash-strapped Warwick schools seek concessions
01:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, June 8, 2011
By Paul Davis, Journal (RI)

Facing a $6-million budget cut, school officials will ask about 1,500 teachers, bus drivers and others for help during contract talks. If workers agree on several concessions, it could mean fewer classes, fewer teachers and an increase in health-care costs for workers. … A contract with more than 1,000 teachers expires in August. A contract with the Warwick Independent School Employees union expired several years ago.

California Moves to Cut Inmate Population After Ruling
By VAUHINI VARA And BOBBY WHITE, Wall Street Journal
JUNE 7, 2011, 7:27 P.M. ET

California officials, seeking to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to slash its prison population, unveiled a plan Tuesday that relies mostly on moving low-level offenders to county jails and building new prisons to accommodate serious criminals.

Blue Shield of California to cut many premiums 2.5% this year
By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times (CA)
June 8, 2011

Health insurer Blue Shield of California, under fire for a series of recent rate hikes and the pay of its chief executive, plans to cut this year's premiums by 2.5% for many of its 3.3 million policyholders as part of a new initiative to hold down costs.

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