Federal shutdown effects on Washington State


Washington State Convention Center
Washington State Convention Center (Photo credit: OZinOH)

NewsTribune.com

The federal government shutdown has prompted big cutbacks at the state Employment Security Department, which on Tuesday put half of its 1,669 staffers on furlough or reduced hours. About 833 workers are affected by the cutbacks, including about half who are working at 50 percent or 60 percent of full time and the other half who are furloughed…

SeattleTimes

OLYMPIA – More than 400 state workers were furloughed Tuesday and another 450 had their hours reduced because of the federal government shutdown, the state Employment Security Department said. The ESD, which processes unemployment claims, gets about 87 percent of its funding from the federal government, the Seattle Times said.

How does the federal shutdown affect Employment Security?

Employment Security is a state agency, but we get about 87 percent of our funding from the federal government – so our operations are closely tied to the fate of the federal budget.

Due to the federal shutdown, we’re no longer receiving federal funds to cover our unemployment-benefits and tax operations. In order to continue these critical services, we have laid off or reduced the hours of 50 percent of Employment Security staff who are not directly involved in processing benefit claims or collecting taxes. Only services that are funded, plus essential administrative support for the funded services, will be continued until a federal budget is approved.

Will unemployment benefits continue to be paid during the federal shutdown?

The federal government is continuing to provide money for unemployment benefits, but is not providing funds to cover the administrative cost of processing those claims. For the time being, we’ve decided to maintain these critical services using our limited state funds. Therefore, unemployment benefits will continue to be paid for at least a few more weeks.

Will WorkSource remain open?

WorkSource offices remain open for now, but with reduced capacity.

WorkSource is a partnership, where multiple state agencies and local organizations deliver a mix of employment and worker-training services throughout the state. The major partners are Employment Security and the 12 local workforce development councils. At this time:

  • Employment Security has federal funds available to maintain job-search services through next June, but some of our specialized funding streams are not available until Congress approves a budget (e.g., veterans employment services, labor-market information, etc.). Therefore, some of our capacity and expertise in the WorkSource centers was reduced beginning Oct. 8.
  • The workforce development councils also have lost access to much of their federal funding due to the federal shutdown. Contact them individually for information about their current status.

What isn’t getting done right now?

  • Unemployment-insurance fraud investigations are suspended.
  • Unemployment benefits overpayments and penalties aren’t being collected.
  • The second level of benefits appeals (Commissioner’s Review Office) is not available. Those appeals are on hold.
  • Claims staff can’t get assistance with benefits policy questions.
  • Labor-market data aren’t being updated, and reports aren’t being completed. (E.g., We won’t be able to release the September employment report next week.)
  • VISTA volunteers are still performing their community service, but they’re not getting their stipends.
  • Legislation isn’t getting implemented, including related communications and resources for employers and unemployed workers.
  • Most of our Lean improvement projects are inactive.
  • WorkSource employment services have been reduced by 15-25 percent in most WorkSource offices (with a few over 30%).
  • All veterans employment specialists have been furloughed.
  • Employer tax audits aren’t being conducted.
  • Only critical technology outages are being addressed. Technology improvements are on hold.
  • A wide range of federal reporting requirements aren’t being met, which could have repercussions down the line.
  • Technical assistance to workforce development councils is unavailable.
  • Unemployment-insurance orientation workshops have been suspended at WorkSource.

Please continue to monitor this website for updates.

Wall Street wants your schools. We’re fighting back


Campaign for a Fair Settlement
a project of Action for the Common Good

Join the Tele-Town Hall
On Wed Oct 16th at 8pm EDT/5pm PDT interact in a discussion about communities around the country undoing corporate public school “reform”

Dear Carmen —

Wall Street bankers are stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from our kids every year. [1]

That’s not a misprint. As part of all the financial shenanigans they engaged in that broke our economy, they managed to entrap school districts around the country in “interest rate swaps” that were sold as ways to guarantee steady income for the critical job of educating our kids. Instead they turned out to be massive drains on school budgets, for example, costing Philadelphia $331 million [2] and Chicago $150 million (and another $36 million every year). [3]

In turn, that financial pressure on school districts (exacerbated by the drop in tax revenues from the Great Recession) has opened up opportunities for Wall Street banker-funded corporate takeovers of our public schools. For-profit charter schools, often online-only, have cropped up nationally, siphoning off critical public school investments, short changing our children’s future to line the pockets of private, usually out-of-state, corporations dedicated primarily to the bottom line.

Parents and teachers around the country have been desperately fighting back against this tidal wave of Wall Street-backed education “reform”. They know we need investment in our public schools so that every child has a quality teacher and access to a well-rounded education that includes history, music, arts, PE and vocational training, NOT investment in Wall Street corporations whose motivations have little to do with kids and everything to do with manipulating state regulation to protect their interests.

A key figure in this fight is prominent public school advocate, Diane Ravitch, whose new book, Reign of Error: the Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, shows how people are fighting back and winning. YOU CAN HEAR AND INTERACT WITH HER LIVE in a forum sponsored by the Our Schools network on Wednesday Oct 16th at 8pm EDT/5pm PDT. RSVP here.

Actor Matt Damon, the son of a public school teacher, says,

“[Diane is] America’s foremost historian in the areas of education policy, she’s a champion of public education, she’s a courageous speaker and she’s a truth-teller.”

She’s keenly aware of the impact that Wall Street’s stolen money and increased investments in for-profit education are having on our schools.

We cannot have great, education by having one set of publicly funded schools (charters and vouchers) that pick and choose their students, kicking out the losers, excluding students with disabilities and English learners, and operating free of state laws, and a second publicly funded system, required to take all students, including those rejected or ejected by the other system. Great school systems aim for equity, as the Finnish scholar Pasi Sahlberg says, and get excellence.” [4]

Join a discussion with Diane Ravitch on Wednesday October 16th at 8pm EDT/5pm PDT and hear how communities around the country are undoing corporate “reform” and creating equity and justice in their public schools.

It’s time we started getting those hundreds of millions back.


In Solidarity,

Brian Kettenring, Executive Director, Action for the Common Good

[1] “Riding the Gravy Train: How Wall Street is Bankrupting Our Public Transit Agencies by Profiteering off of Toxic Swap Deals”, ReFund Transit Coalition, June 2012, page 4.
[2] “Too Big to Trust? Banks, Schools, and the Ongoing Problem of Interest Rate Swaps”, Sharon Ward, PA Budget and Policy Center, January 2012, page 1.
[3] http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/19251143-452/amisha-patel-banks-soak-cps-as-schools-close.html
[4] http://dianeravitch.net/2013/10/10/today-the-blog-has-had-7-million-page-views/

http://www.campaignforfairsettlement.org/

Eye on the Amazon: Belo Sun No!


Amazon Watch
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Belo Sun No!
Stop further tragedy on the Xingu River

Belo Sun No!This week Amazon Watch joined a global coalition of organizations to launch a campaign in defense of indigenous and traditional communities threatened by the Canadian mining company Belo Sun. The Toronto-based company plans to build Brazil’s largest gold mine on the banks of the Amazon’s Xingu River in the very area that is most impacted by the disastrous Belo Monte dam. Together with our partners in Brazil, Canada, the United States, and Europe, we are standing against Belo Sun’s outrageous scheme to reap massive profits from the social and environmental havoc being caused by Belo Monte.

Aiming to extract tons of gold from the Xingu’s “Big Bend” region, Belo Sun is swooping in like a scavenger, promising to heap further tragedy on local communities and a declining ecosystem.

Read the rest and watch the video on Eye on the Amazon »

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We need your support!

For over fifteen years, Amazon Watch has been an effective force in supporting indigenous environmental movements on the front lines of halting destructive development.

JOIN US IN PROTECTING THE AMAZON RAINFOREST TODAY »

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