Tax cuts represent Iowa’s priorities problem

100630-ipp-logo-cert5Tax cuts have consequences. In the case of the massive commercial property tax cut enacted two years ago, those consequences have become all too real.

Iowa’s economy continues to rebound and state revenues are projected to rise nearly 5 percent, yet we find ourselves struggling to finance our most important basic services, like education. Why? Because we are giving away most of the increased revenue to commercial property owners, with no public benefit to show for it.

The commercial property tax cut will result in an estimated $278 million hit to the state budget next fiscal year, more than double this year’s cost as provisions phase in. This means that the property tax cuts will consume 82 percent of the estimated $338 million in increased state revenue. The small amount remaining is far too little to cover even the normal increases in the cost of providing public services due to inflation

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Legislators await you Saturday

quad labor logoAlmost every major issue remains unresolved in the Iowa General Assembly.

After hustling through the gas tax, the legislature now faces important decisions on school funding, environmental protection, mental health funding, as well as medical marijuana, secret concealed carry weapons permits and many other provocative issues.

That makes this Saturday’s legislative forum, a special, extended edition, 10:30 a.m. through 1 p.m. at St. Ambrose University’s Rogalski Center essential for those interested in Iowa’s future. That would include any voter who knows that democracy requires more than filling out a ballot once or twice a year.

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Iowa Workers to Scott Walker: Union Members are Patriots, not Terrorists 9/11 Ground Zero EMT to question Walker’s unpatriotic comments

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Contact Mark Cook, 563-582-6970 or Cathy Sherwin, 314-452-2179 Mark Cooper 515-265-1862 As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker makes his first appearances in Iowa after making comments at CPAC comparing union members protesting his policies to ISIS, Iowa workers are speaking up … Continue reading

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297 6 11 Nearly half of Mount Pleasant mental hospital staff terminated

mental health instituteLayoff notices were delivered Thursday to nearly half the staff at the state mental health institution in Mount Pleasant, one of two such facilities that Gov. Terry Branstad intends to close.

The 36 layoffs will take effect April 6, according to Amy McCoy, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Human Services. She said the institution currently has 74 employees, most of whom are to be laid off by mid-summer.

The department has said a total of about 150 workers would lose their jobs if the Mount Pleasant and Clarinda mental hospitals are closed.

AFSCME Council 61 President Homan comments on layoffs.

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Labor History

March 07 Some 6,000 shoemakers, joined by about 20,000 other workers, strike in Lynn, Mass. They won raises, but not recognition of their union – 1860 Three thousand unemployed auto workers, led by the Communist Party of America, braved the … Continue reading

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House GOP Tries Scott Walker-Style Hit on Teachers’ Bargaining Rights

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House GOP Tries Scott Walker-Style Hit on Teachers’ Bargaining Rights Democrats on the House Labor Committee fought back against a new Republican proposal during a marathon meeting on Wednesday night. On Monday House Republicans had introduced without warning a bill … Continue reading

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Iowa Workers Demand Apology From Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

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March 5, 2015 | Author Tracy Leone iowa afl-cioAs Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker makes his first appearance in Iowa after making comments at CPAC comparing union members protesting his policies to ISIS, Iowa workers are speaking up and demanding an … Continue reading

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Apply for historic preservation grants

Through April 30, the State Historical Society of Iowa is accepting applications for historic preservation and country school grants. Historic preservation grants can be used to preserve, conserve, interpret and educate the public about historical resources related to the built environment, museum collections and documentary materials such as diaries, letters, photographs and newspapers. The Country School program provides grants for the preservation and educational activities related to Iowa’s one and two-room country schools. Applications can be submitted online at www.iowagrants.gov. More information is available at www.iowahistory.org or by calling 515-281-4228.

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Beyond politics: Teacher pay in context

Funding for Iowa schools has been under discussion for nearly the entire legislative session. The Iowa House has one version of a funding bill and the Iowa Senate has one with a higher funding level. Schools use their money for … Continue reading

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Labor History

March 06 The Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, a union of mariners, fishermen and boatmen working aboard U.S. flag vessels, is founded in San Francisco – 1885 The Knights of Labor picket to protest the practices of the Southwestern Railroad … Continue reading

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Gov. Walker owes the workers of Wisconsin, Iowa and the entire United States an apology.

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As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker makes his first appearances in Iowa after making comments at CPAC comparing union members protesting his policies to ISIS, Iowa workers are speaking up and demanding an apology. While Scott Walker fundraises, and events, in … Continue reading

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Postal Unions Deliver a Strong Message as Contract Talks Ensue

apwu allianceSome 60 labor unions and social activist groups have combined on a public relations campaign to promote the Postal Service as a “national treasure” and make a case against consolidation and job attrition. Called A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service, the effort’s public face is actor Danny Glover, who stars in a video spot stating the group’s case and is making public appearances on its behalf.

“Now, more than ever, we need the Postal Service to thrive and innovate for the future,” says Glover in the video (below). “The Postal Service belongs to all of us. It reaches everyone everywhere, delivering medicine, packages, letters, newspapers, and catalogs without a dime of taxpayers’ money. It never stops, but some people want to bury the Postal Service, shut offices, reduce hours, limit delivery, outsource it, divide it, and privatize it.”

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64 Unions Sign Letter Opposing Obama On Trade Authority

no fast track2Sixty-four labor unions have reaffirmed their opposition to the president’s unilateral trade authority in a letter to Congress dated March 2.

“As the leaders of almost 20 million U.S. workers and their families, we share your commitment to strengthening the middle class,” the letter noted. “To rebuild our economy for America’s hardworking families, we ask you to join us in opposition to ‘fast track’ trade promotion authority (also known TPA).”

Though labor unions and the president agree on many policy areas, unions have continuously opposed the White House on fast-track authority. Also known as Trade-Promotion Authority (TPA), if granted by Congress, the president would have the authority to make trade deals with other countries without them being amended or filibustered.

Leadership from the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, APWU, IBEW, CWA, ILWU and many other unions signed onto the letter to express their opposition.

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Ensuring Iowans get paid for their work

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The Senate passed Senate File 270, a bill to ensure all Iowans get paid for their work. Sadly, $600 million in wages are stolen from Iowa workers each year. Wage theft can occur in many forms. One example is an … Continue reading

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Labor History

March 052015.03.02history attucks
British soldiers, quartered in the homes of colonists, took the jobs of working people when jobs were scarce. On this date, grievances of rope makers against the soldiers led to a fight. Soldiers shot down Crispus Attucks, a black colonist, then others, in what became known as the Boston Massacre. Attucks is considered the first casualty in the American Revolution – 1770

United Shoe Workers of America merge with Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union – 1979

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A Vocabulary of Respect: Spread the Word to End the Word

Play Audio in Browser Window GRAPHIC: This is Spread the Word to End the Word day, an effort to get all people to stop using the word "retarded." Graphic courtesy of Special Olympics. DES MOINES, Iowa – Residents across Iowa … Continue reading

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Iowans could take time off work to participate in presidential precinct caucus

vote voiceUnder the new bill, employees would apply to take up to 4 unpaid hours off

DES MOINES — Iowans would be able to take unpaid time off from work to attend a presidential precinct caucus under a bill that cleared a Senate subcommittee today.

Under Senate Study Bill 1062, employees would be able to make written applications with their employer to take up to four hours off beginning one hour prior to the start of the precinct caucus without incurring any penalty or pay deduction. The bill required a 72-hour advance notice, but backers agreed to consider a proposed change by a business organization that the notice requirement be 30 days ahead of time to avoid disruptions for manufacturers or other employers.

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Read more at http://www.kcrg.com/subject/news/iowans-could-take-time-off-work-to-participate-in-presidential-precinct-caucus-20150303#hSQMDdUg9TQ5wjSP.99

Radio Iowa article – click here

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Statement from Rep. Sharon Steckman of Mason City on Republican Education Plans

education weapon

“Today is a sad day for public education and teachers across Iowa.

House Republicans finally put all of their cards on the table today and their education agenda is simple: ruin public education and push Iowa kids to private schools instead.

At a 9:30 am conference committee, Republicans said there isn’t enough money for public schools, but just over an hour later were working on a bill that would eventually divert around $200 million to private schools. (HSB 203)

In between those meetings, Republicans found a new excuse for their plan to starve our schools: blame teachers. (HSB 204)

I spent 30 years in the classroom and I’m offended by House Republicans who suggest teachers are to blame for their plan to underfund schools.  It’s shameful.

Teachers, parents, students, and Iowans who value public education should be outraged.”

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Rep. Steckman is a retired teacher, Assistant Minority Leader, and serves on the supplemental state aid conference committee (SF 171/172) as well as the Republican bill to divert more state money to private schools (HSB 203).

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AFL-CIO Executive Council Issues Statement: Prevent Discrimination Against Doctors of Podiatric Medicine

  Atlanta, Georgia (February 25, 2015) – The AFL-CIO Executive Council today issued a statement in support of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU)’s doctors of podiatric medicine, calling on Congress to enact legislation amending Title XIX of the … Continue reading

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Op-Ed Let’s debate the Trans-Pacific Partnership — history’s largest trade deal — before OKing it

This spring, President Obama and Republican leaders in Congress want to use an outdated process used to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement more than 20 years ago — a rule called “fast track” — to force through trade deals without a real debate or any amendments. And fast track would be used to speed passage of the giant Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade deal.

If you haven’t heard much about the TPP, that’s part of the problem. It would be the largest trade deal in history — involving countries stretching from Chile to Japan, representing 792 million people and about 40% of the world economy.

Yet it’s been devised in secret, with a disproportionate amount of advice coming from corporations and Wall Street. This secrecy is the norm since NAFTA. Most of the details that are known to the public have come through WikiLeaks. Instead, we’d like to see the negotiating texts made public, so there can be an honest and open debate.

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