If you’ve missed our morning update the last couple of days, you haven’t missed much: Things stand pretty much where they did when we last left off, with lawmakers still trying to iron out their differences at daily meetings in Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office.
All sides remain at the negotiating table working on a host of issues, but with two weeks left to avert a second special session, no one is publicly reporting progress. Meetings continue this morning.
If any sticking point is the biggest, it might be Republican Sen. Joe Zarelli’s proposal to cut pension benefits for future workers for a $2 billion, 25-year savings. The Federation of State Employees union is attacking the plan in radio ads and full-page newspaper ads.
Another proposal is drawing even more attention from interest groups: the consolidation of insurance benefits for school employees into a single system. Defeating it is the top priority of the state teacher’s union.
We wrote today about how the WEA has brought thousands of its members to rallies around the state during the special session — a follow up to spending $176,000 in January and February on radio ads, consulting, phone calls to members and other advocacy efforts against the health care proposal. On the other side, non-teaching employees organized under the SEIU banner have spent a smaller but still hefty sum on their own advocacy, including radio and TV ads.