QUOTE OF THE DAY
In a case scrutinized for potential ramifications for pension reform in Illinois, the Arizona Supreme Court today ruled unconstitutional efforts to curtail benefit increases for retired judges.
Yet Illinoisans may not want to read too much into the ruling because the Arizona case involved only retired judges, a class of pensioners exempted from pension law changes in Illinois.
Benefit cuts affecting compounded cost-of-living increases for other retired state employees, enacted in December, are being challenged before the Illinois Supreme Court.
If driving a taxi in Chicago is your dream job, have I got a deal for you. You get to fight traffic, deal with drunks and deadbeats, work long hours and breathe exhaust fumes nonstop. And I can get you into it for just $360,000.
That’s what you can expect to pay for the city medallion required to operate a cab. First, though, you have to find someone who wants to sell: The number is currently fixed, and the city generally holds auctions only when it reclaims existing medallions.
If that actually sounds like a terrible deal, it is — for aspiring drivers. But it’s sweet for some people. In recent years, an investor who bought New York taxi medallions would have done far better than someone who put money into the stock market.
Why backing the minimum wage hike makes sense — for Wal-Mart. “Looks like Wal-Mart is in an open-minded mood these days, telling Reuters that it’s “looking at” the idea of supporting a hike in the federal minimum wage. Wait, what? That’s shocking at first, given the ferocity with which the world’s biggest retailer has fought unions trying to organize workers around higher wages. If you think about it, though, it makes a lot of financial sense — because, as spokesman David Tovar put it, the 140 million people who shop at its stores every year would “now have additional income.”” Lydia DePillis in The Washington Post.
@JeffYoung: Maybe the Walmart/minimum wage thing is a big misunderstanding. “Wages? Absolutely, we support paying the minimum!”
…And why Gap is raising its minimum wage to $10. “Clothing retailer Gap, Inc. announced Wednesday that it will raise its hourly minimum wage to $10, a change that will affect 65,000 U.S. employees. GAP employees who are now earning the minimum wage will make $9.00 in June of 2014 and $10 in June of 2015. GAP, which also owns Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta, and Intermix, operates in more than 50 countries and employs 135,000 people around the world.” Aviva Shen in Think Progress.
When Mayor Rahm Emanuel put together his first budget in 2011, he sent a not-so-subtle message to city workers who owed City Hall for parking tickets, water bills and other fees and fines: Pay up or you could be suspended or fired.
“I am creating a culture of accountability in city government,” Emanuel said at the time. “It simply is not acceptable that city employees have $3 million in outstanding debt owed to Chicago’s taxpayers.”
While the mayor made initial progress in getting city workers to make good, those scofflaws now collectively owe more than they did when Emanuel focused on the issue. The debt, which once ballooned to as much as $3.8 million, now stands at nearly $3.4 million, city records show.
On Wednesday, Google announced it was mulling whether to expand Google Fiber to as many as 34 new cities around the country. Many of these are mid-sized locations like Portland and San Antonio — a sign that Google’s early efforts in slightly smaller places, such as Kansas City, are paying off and that the company is ready to take on bigger challenges.
Final decisions about the lucky cities will be going out by the end of the year — what might seem like an interminable delay for the residents of those communities. But folks who live in denser metropolitan areas may be in for an even longer wait. Here’s why.
Google’s choice to enter new broadband markets depends on a few factors. One is the state of the existing infrastructure. Some cities, such as Seattle, boast bundles of fiber optic cables that were installed as early as the 1980s and for one reason or another, nobody ever turned them on. While Seattle isn’t a Google Fiber city, previous groundwork like that makes life a little easier for Google in general. Other cities without that infrastructure — or with especially difficult terrain — might find themselves at a disadvantage.
Cities, counties, public schools and community colleges around the country have limited or reduced the work hours of part-time employees to avoid having to provide them with health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, state and local officials say.
The cuts to public sector employment, which has failed to rebound since the recession, could serve as a powerful political weapon for Republican critics of the health care law, who claim that it is creating a drain on the economy.
President Obama has twice delayed enforcement of the health care law’s employer mandate, which would subject larger employers to tax penalties if they do not offer insurance coverage to employees who work at least 30 hours a week, on average. But many public employers have already adopted policies, laws or regulations to make sure workers stay under that threshold.
CARTOON OF THE DAY