Washington state and the national economic stimulus plan. Plus: job training, minimum wage, tax cuts, the cost of health care and jobless aid

January 5, 2009 | Alex Stone

Congressional delegation ready to weigh in over state’s role in economic stimulus plan: President-elect Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders discuss a stimulus package that could exceed $800 billion. “This might be the most serious moment besides the Great Depression and World War II the country has faced,” said U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair. “This is a serious time. We have to perform. The future of the nation depends on it.”

Washington state gets $1.3M job training grant: The funds are part of $49 million in grants announced Friday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The grants will go to housing agencies in 48 states as well as the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.

State’s minimum wage rises to $8.55 an hour: An increase in Washington state’s minimum wage no doubt pleases thousands of workers who will see their pay go up to $8.55 an hour — the highest in the United States. That’s 48 cents an hour more than they had been making, representing their single biggest pay raise in nine years.

Two sides of the minimum wage coin: Nichole Lopez is happy about a nearly $1,000 pay increase she’ll get this year because of a 48-cent hike in minimum wage.

Obama Plan Includes $300 Billion in Tax Cuts: President-elect Barack Obama plans to include about $300 billion in tax cuts for workers and businesses in his economic recovery program, advisers said Sunday, as his team seeks to win over Congressional skeptics worried that he was too focused on government spending.

Health care and the costs to come: Health care, says the man most concerned with that 17 percent of America’s economy, can be “a nation-ruining issue.” As Michael Leavitt ends four years as secretary of health and human services, he offers this attention-arresting arithmetic: Absent fundamental reforms, over the next two decades the average American household’s health care spending, including the portion of its taxes that pays for Medicare and Medicaid, will go from 23 percent to 41 percent of average household income.

Obama Considers Major Expansion in Aid to Jobless: President-elect Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are considering major expansions of government-assisted health care insurance and unemployment compensation as they begin intensive work this week on a two-year economic recovery package.

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

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