The Edge Update: ASD union talks, tax code rewrite and Grenfell Tower investigation

Local

After about two years of negotiations, the Anchorage School District and the local teachers union have reached a tentative one-year contract agreement, the groups announced Nov. 15. The Anchorage School Board and the teachers themselves still must ratify the agreement before it takes effect. If approved, the agreement would give the 3,300 members of the Anchorage Education Association teachers union two more personal days this year, bringing the total to five. It would also increase the district’s monthly contribution to members’ health insurance premiums by $65, bringing that total to $1,645 per person per month. The union members wanted both of those increases, as well as a 3 percent salary increase that was not included in the tentative agreement.

National

The House passed a sweeping rewrite of the tax code on Nov. 16 by 227-205, taking a significant leap forward as Republicans seek to enact $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for businesses and individuals and deliver the first major legislative achievement of President Donald Trump. The Joint Committee on Taxation projected that Americans earning $30,000 or less would see their taxes increase beginning in 2021, if the Senate bill becomes law. The committee also projected that Americans earning $75,000 or less would face large tax increases in 2027, after the individual tax cuts expire.

The updated analysis stems from the Senate’s last-minute inclusion of a provision that would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that most people buy health insurance. The repeal would lead many lower-income Americans to choose not to buy insurance, and thus not claim tax subsidies that currently help them defray the costs of health coverage. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, called the development “astounding” and warned that middle-class taxpayers would get “clobbered” under the latest Republican plan.

World

After a five-month investigation, the British police concluded on Nov. 16 that 71 people died in the Grenfell Tower disaster, somewhat fewer than they had originally estimated. Victoria King and her daughter Alexandra Atala were the last victims to be formally identified by the coroner, the police said in a statement. A stillborn baby, whose mother escaped the building, was counted among the victims. At the time of the fire, the London Metropolitan Police said that at least 80 people had died in the blaze, which tore through the 24-story tower on June 14. Officers now believe all the victims have been recovered and identified.