November 9, 2011

Emboldened by election results, defenders of corporate greed waste no time targeting public safety, public services and public servants

Emboldened by the COSTCO-bought passage of Initiative 1183 to privatize state liquor sales, politicians on both sides of the aisle and their supporters in Big Media have wasted no time once again blaming public servants for our economic mess as a smokescreen to protect corporations from paying their fair share.

But they might want to look for lessons from as far away as Ohio and as close to home as Snohomish County.

And we’ve saved the best for last: 27 ways to save public safety, public services and higher education by cutting tax breaks.

But first….

An editorial in today’s The Olympian blamed the Federation-led Health Care Coalition -- who rejected Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire’s request to re-open health care negotiations so you’ll pay more while corporations sacrifice nothing.

The Olympian, echoing the governor’s office,  said state employees who have sacrificed more than 10 percent of their pay – including successive rounds of furloughs, a 3 percent pay cut and health premium costs that increased at least 25 percent – should give even more, while corporations sit on billions in unpaid taxes—otherwise known as “tax breaks.”
The politicians, the corporations and Big Media have their talking points down. Wrote The Olympian: “Union leaders have left open the possibility that lawmakers will order additional cuts in staffing and/or pay cuts for all state workers.”

Translation: Blame public servants. Protect corporate greed.

Now it isn’t just the current Democratic governor who’s trotting out these talking points. Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna used Tuesday’s Election Day to kick off his bid to be the next governor at a posh Bellevue reception hall. As the Seattle Times reports, McKenna and Gregoire are on the same page. “McKenna also said he’d try to force state workers to pay a higher share of health-care costs, something Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire has already pursued,” the Times reported today (Nov. 9).

Translation: Blame public servants. Protect corporate greed.

And it appears the Republican minority in the Legislature also has their “blame public servants” talking points down, too. They tipped their hand when Rep. Charles Ross of the 14th District appeared on KIT radio in Yakima Friday morning (Nov. 4). Our Community Corrections officers and the police chief came to talk about the harmful impact of the governor’s potential proposal to end community supervision of offenders released from prison. But Ross came armed with charts and graphs and a book of talking points.

Summary: Attack collective bargaining and contract rights.

He said we ought to do in Washington what governors have tried in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere.

“When you look across the nation right now, there are states that are realizing and going back and saying, ‘Hold on a second, that choice to create collectively bargained contracts with one person – the governor – is not working,’” Ross said.

Later, he said, “You have contracts that are in place that we cannot stop, you cannot adjust for a situation like this, to the point where I can review lawsuits where we’ve tried to make adjustments to people’s pay and benefits that now we get sued….”

Without the rollback of collective bargaining and “contract law,” he said, “the only solution is layoffs and that’s the worst solution.”

Still later, said Ross, the state needs to “re-prioritize….And a lot has been done through the whole process of two things, contract law and also entitlement programming to where the courts come back because we’re being sued on that very issue that it we decline those people the benefits, they’re going to come back and enjoin us.”

Still later, he said, “And it’s not just on the poor folks – I want to make sure that’s clear – it’s on pension benefits on auto-pilot, it’s many other facets of we spend the tax dollar that’s truly not in our control.”

And referring to the expected passage of the liquor privatization initiative, Ross said: “I’m telling you anytime the state has an opportunity to remove itself from a function of business it should. We’ve tried that in the DSHS world, in social services, we’ve been sued for sending work out to the private sector. We’ve been sued. It’s been prevented.”

The reference to DSHS was apparently to the union’s victory in court this past May when a judge issued an injunction against the fast-track contracting out of Child Welfare services. He may have also referred to the union’s recent court action on pensions and health insurance.

So Ross, a legislator we deeply respect, was just doing his loyal duty to his party by trotting out the talking points inspired by the Unholy Trinity of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Koch Brothers and Grover Norquist.

Translation: Blame public servants. Protect corporate greed.

But, as the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

So Gregoire, McKenna, Ross, ALEC, the Kochs, Norquist, Big Media can’t change the facts:


Last night, voters in Ohio rejected their governor’s attempt to strip away public employee collective bargaining rights. It wasn’t close – a nearly 2-1 margin to retain workers’ rights. Ross may use Ohio as a model for rolling back collective bargaining here, but voters saw through the smokescreen there. They’d do it here, too.


After Gov. Scott Walker’s bill stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights, two of his supporters were recalled, giving the Democrats working control of Wisconsin’s state Senate. Walker and several other senators can’t be recalled until they’ve been in office for a year. But those recall efforts are coming – while the FBI probe of Walker’s campaign and former county executive office continues.


Democratic Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon was considered a goner. He faced a nasty campaign, including a last-minute criminal investigation sparked by an anonymous – and suspicious source. Reardon won in a landslide and in doing so sent a message to other timid Democrats. “I’m not your typical liberal Democrat,” Reardon told KING TV. “If you hit me, I’m going to hit back. I’m a working-class kid from Everett. I think Democrats lose when they sit on their hands. I don’t sit on my hands.”


We believe the special legislative session that starts Nov. 28 will last nearly until Christmas and then they’ll resume when the regular session starts Jan. 9.

The Federation and a broad-based coalition of labor, churches, community groups and others are joining for a week of action Nov. 28-Dec. 2.  
    Guess why the corporate forces and their supporters continue to blame you? They know with the Occupy Movement there’s a movement to force corporations to pay their fair share.
    Everyone cites the billions in tax breaks. But no one’s really toted up the various possibilities of which could be closed to help tackle the newest $2 billion deficit.

    Until now.

    We’ve gathered 27 ideas put forward by just six groups that could roll back more than $2.3 billion in tax breaks that largely benefit corporations. The groups range from the Federation and its 3 percent corporate tax break furlough proposal (to raise $450 million) to the Citizen Commission on Performance Measurement of Tax Preferences, which proposes ending $44 million in specific tax breaks.

    We’ll have this list in a pdf form you can download from our website at It’s printed below, too.

    Some of these ideas may overlap and all members may not support some. But our purpose in compiling this list is to show that many groups of thoughtful citizens are proposing creative ideas to save our state without devastating cuts.

    No comments: