The best kind of stimulus. Plus: health care, equal pay, paid family leave and the state budget

January 29, 2009 | Alex Stone

Food stamps offer best stimulus: As Congress and the White House consider a $150 billion stimulus package that includes tax rebates and tax incentives for business, a report released Tuesday suggests that other methods would do a better job of infusing money into the flagging economy and doing it fast.

Treat health care as a human right: With our economy in crisis, President Barack Obama newly sworn in and health reform hearings under way this week in the Legislature, only one thing is certain about U.S. health care: We cannot afford the status quo.

Obama signs equal-pay bill: President Barack Obama signed an equal-pay bill into law Thursday before cheering labor and women leaders who fought hard for it and the woman whose history-making lawsuit gave impetus to the cause.

Fee on workers may pay for leave: In 2007, jubilant Democratic lawmakers approved $250-a-week stipends to workers who take unpaid time off to bond with a new baby. Two years later, without paying anyone a dime, paid family medical leave has stalled. Gov. Chris Gregoire halted computer work on it to save money. And no one agrees how to pay for the estimated $40 million annual payout.

State Senate passes bill that aims to trim $105 million in government expenses: The Senate passed a bill on Wednesday to reduce the administrative costs of government in the face of a $6 billion deficit. Under Senate Bill 5460, a salary and hiring freeze will occur for one year. Employees would not be reimbursed for out-of-state travel and agencies would not be allowed to contract personal services or purchase equipment that exceeds $1,000.

State gets 360 suggestions for its share of stimulus: As of Tuesday, Washington state had received more than 360 proposals totaling nearly $1.5 billion from local governments and various agencies looking for a piece of the federal economic-stimulus package.

Billions in aid for state now up to Senate: The House of Representatives approved a massive economic stimulus bill Wednesday that could provide up to $4.7 billion to Washington state for road, sewer and school construction; aid to the poor, elderly, students and unemployed; and dozens of other programs.

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Posted in Health Care, State Economy, Tax and Budget, Work & Family

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