Today's Fair Shots - May 24th, 2017
1-Proposed Budget Funds Economic Incentives for Film Production in Texas
2-Good News: Attack on Fair Chance Hiring Ordinances Hits Roadblock in Senate
3-Trumka: Trump Budget Delivers 'Ultimate Insult' to Working Families to Pay for Tax Cuts for Wealthy
1. If you are of the glass half-full school, good news arrived on the entertainment front as the Legislature works toward midnight deadlines in the next two nights. The House-Senate Conference Committee on SB 1, the 2018-19 state budget, placed $22 million in the Film and Music Marketing Fund, which falls under the Governor's office.
The International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) has promoted the funding, which was in jeopardy throughout the budgetprocess. The Senate included $3.5 million in its version of the budget, while the House zeroed out funding, so the final amount of $22 million listed in the latest budget documents posted by the Legislative Budget Board is a statement that the matter of attracting movies, festivals and other entertainment events to Texas retains importance. The other side of the coin: The program got $32 million last time.
The United Labor Legislative Committee has routinely endorsed this program, which brings solid middle-class work with benefits to Texas and generates multiples of what is being invested for our state's economy.
All too often in recent years, movies that are set in Texas are not filmed in Texas. This appropriation may not reverse the momentum appreciably, but it is way better than nothing. Congratulations to IATSE for its role in keeping this important program alive.
SB 1, the 2018-19 state budget, is likely to receive final votes on Thursday.
2. In a rare successful insurgency in the Texas Senate, a bill that would have canceled Fair Chance Hiring ordinances that protect former convicts from automatic elimination by potential employers was knocked off by the Democratic minority.
HB 91, as it came out of the House, related criminal history only to occupational licensing. But as amended in the Senate State Affairs Committee, the measure was broadened to take in all hiring, public and private, rather than just licenses.
The Senate sponsor, Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, was proceeding on the measure and by all accounts had the votes to pass it. But Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, raised a point of order, asserting the attack on Fair Chance Hiring ordinances - essentially a failed bill by Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin - did not fall under the caption of HB 91, which is about licensing. Such attempts at points of order are commonplace in the House, but rare in the Senate. And it is even rarer when a point that upends an entire bill is upheld.
Following a large huddle in front of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, West withdrew the point of order and Huffman acknowledged on the Senate floor that the procedural kill would have been valid. Under an agreement with West, she then pulled her bill down for purposes of amending it to conform to the intent of the bill. That amendment had not been considered as of this writing.
This is a strong win for working people. The United Labor Legislative Committee had strongly opposed the Workman bill. Several members of ULLCO have been working this issue hard and were prepared to fight the Senate amendments in the House, if necessary. All of them deserve congratulations.
Today's development demonstrates that there are limits to recasting bills in Senate committees as well as House ones.
3.The 2018 budget proposed by President Trump, like all such presidential efforts, is going to be a non-starter. But presidents set a tone. Trump's basic premise is to reward the wealthy at the expense of government services and benefits that include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka blasted the atrocious proposal:
President Donald Trump's budget is the most significant betrayal yet of the working people he claims to support. This budget is a blueprint for how to rig the rules of the economy to favor the wealthy and corporations, while taking away our freedoms and protections at work.
The proposals presented in this budget defund core programs that are vital to working families. Breaking Trump's promise from the campaign trail, this budget slashes $1.5 trillion from Medicaid, $59 billion from Medicare and up to $64 billion from Social Security. It strips funding for workplace safety research by 40% and totally wipes out health and safety training and investigations of chemical accidents, putting more working people at higher risk of dying on the job. It starves our children of the education they deserve by cutting $10.6 billion in education and $143 billion in student loan funds that help students afford college. And it forces a 6% pay cut on the people who make our government work.
The ultimate insult of this budget is that all of these sacrifices are levied on working families in order to justify massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
Richard Fiesta of the Alliance for Retired Americans posted this statement on the Trump budget proposal:
"President Trump has betrayed America's seniors. His White House staff claims that the President's budget does not cut 'core' Social Security benefits, which is a distinction without a difference. Cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are Social Security cuts plain and simple. They will weaken the earned benefits that millions have paid for during decades of work.
"Trump's budget plan takes health care away from millions of Americans. At a time when 10,000 Americans are turning 65 every day, slashing Medicaid funds for elderly health care is wrong-headed and cruel.
"The budget follows through on the Trumpcare health bill passed by House Republicans and cuts more than $800 billion from Medicaid over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that this could end Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people - including millions of seniors, the disabled, veterans and children.
"This budget also decimates the Community Development Block Grant, which provides funding to states and communities to fund home-delivered meals for home-bound seniors, through organizations such as Meals on Wheels.
"Trump's proposal would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by more than 25 percent, taking benefits away from the 45 million citizens, especially seniors, who need basic nutrition.
"All of this is in addition to slashing the earned pension benefits of current and future federal workers.
"Cutting pensions and other critical programs to fund tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and highly profitable corporations, which pay little to no tax already, is an affront to working families.
"President Trump's fiscal 2018 budget is a terrible mix of warped values and blatant dishonesty. The Alliance for Retired Americans will mobilize our 4.4 million members to see that it never advances."