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Archives: Sep. 2012

Sep.
28th

Governor’s budget leader calls impasse on health-talks with two-dozen unions

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s budget office just announced an impasse in negotiations with about two-dozen state-employee unions over health-care benefits. The announcement comes as a flurry of unions has begun voting on contracts for pay only – including a landslide ratification vote this afternoon by members of the Washington Federation of State Employees.

State budget director Stan Marshburn said in a telephone interview that the unions have not technically agreed they are at an impasse but that is in fact where the parties are. They all face a Monday deadline in law to identify costs for the

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Sep.
28th

Federation of State Employees ratifies pay deal on 2,421-169 vote

This just in: The Washington Federation of State Employees has overwhelmingly ratified a two-year pay contract for general-government workers in 2013-15. The online vote tally was 2,421 in favor and 169 wanting to reject the deal.

In a nutshell, the agreement affecting 30,000 general-government workers reverses the 3 percent reductions in pay and hours worked that have been in effect for the past two years. It also offers a chance for a 1 percent pay hike in 2014 and an extra pay step worth 2.5 percent of thousands of workers.

Cost for the state is about $238 million.

Talks continue

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Sep.
28th

Teamsters Local 117 strikes pay deal with state; ratification next

Teamsters Local 117 struck a deal with negotiators for Gov. Chris Gregoire late last night, assuring a deal that mirrors one struck two weeks ago by the larger Washington Federation of State Employees.

According to this summary, the Teamster deal reverses the 3 percent reduction in pay and hours worked for all 5,690 covered workers; it adds a new pay “step” for experience worth 2.5 percent; and it allows a 1 percent pay increase in July 2014 if the state’s revenues hit a target.

Paul Zilly, spokesman for the Teamsters, said a ratification vote is taking place

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Sep.
28th

State Senate settles with Pam Roach’s accuser, Mike Hoover

State Senate leaders today announced they have reached a settlement that resolves an employee’s complaint and “re-affirms” the Senate’s 2010 sanctions against Auburn Sen. Pam Roach.

Senate Secretary Tom Hoemann said the Senate sanctions were never dropped, even after Republicans allowed Roach to return to their private caucus meetings last winter around the same time they needed her for a key budget vote. Hoemann said Roach continues to be prohibited from communicating directly with GOP caucus staff and most nonpartisan committee staff.

Nevertheless, her return to the caucus prompted Senate GOP attorney Mike Hoover to demand $1.75 million in a claim

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Sep.
27th

Satirical Tweet and photo by Democratic campaign staffer Kelly Steele aimed at Republican candidate for governor Rob McKenna leads to calls for apology

The photograph of Rob McKenna at last week’s Asian Pacific American Community Summit in Tacoma has been making the rounds on the web.

It shows McKenna waiting for the sometimes lengthy translations of his and Jay Inslee’s answers during a joint appearance at the summit held every four years. While it is not exactly flattering, it doesn’t display anything more than a guy having to stand on a stage with a neutral expression while a dozen translations of various Asian and Pacific Islander languages were completed.

But Kelly Steele, a Democratic party staffer both here and in other states, saw

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Sep.
27th

Supreme Court gives Gov. Gregoire, AG more time to appeal disability-cuts ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court is giving Gov. Chris Gregoire and state attorneys until Oct. 22 to decide if they will appeal a 9th Circuit Court ruling that struck down some across-the-board budget cuts that Gregoire tried to order in 2010. At issue in the case at hand are budget cuts that reduced the amount of in-home care hours available to Medicaid clients in Washington.

The cuts meant fewer hours of homecare assistance with washing, laundry, cooking and other chores. The extension is the second granted after an original Sept. 17 deadine.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the state in

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Sep.
27th

Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee have added a second Seattle governors debate, this one Oct. 11 and broadcast by most Seattle stations

If voters haven’t already gotten their fill of debates after the first and only vice-presidential debate on Oct. 11, they can tune back at 9 that evening for a live forum between candidates for governor Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee.

This is an additional debate, adding on to two already announced face offs in Seattle (Oct. 16) and Yakima (Oct. 2).

What makes the Oct. 11 debate unusual is it will be broadcast live by four of the five Seattle broadcast outlets as well as Northwest Cable News. This will be all TV, all the time, with the questioners coming from KING, KOMO, KIRO and KCPQ. It will be made available to other TV and cable stations in the state as well and will be moderated by Washington State University professor Glenn Johnson.

Oct. 11 is one of the dates offered up by McKenna to hold the first debate in Tacoma since 1992. Inslee would not agree, instead sticking with a previously arranged debate for this evening. McKenna said such a debate, up against the nationally telecast Stanford-Washington football game would not draw a big enough audience.

Here is the statement from KING Read more »

Sep.
26th

Republicans bring new claims, call for investigation of Troy Kelley

Whatever other conclusions one draws from the court documents that became public this month involving state Rep. Troy Kelley, they’re a window into the state auditor candidate’s complicated web of businesses and clients.

Putting aside all the alleged wrongdoing that Kelley denies, his document-tracking business clearly involved a head-spinning array of companies he owned making multimillion-dollar transfers of money to each other using multiple bank accounts in different states. He also had access to an account in Belize, a country known as a tax haven, that he said was set up for estate planning purposes and then closed.

State Republicans now argue

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