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And now for the good news?

OK, now we’re heard from our state Senate and House on how they’d cope with the latest budget deficit figure, $9.3 billion. It isn’t pretty.

Walgreens, the nation’s largest drug store chain, just announced in Seattle that it will stop filling Medicaid prescriptions at 44 of its 111 pharmacies in this state when the feds cut reimbursement rates on May 1. A similar state cut has been stayed by a judge.

KING-TV, KONG-TV and Northwest Cable News just laid off 15 employees for lack of advertising income to pay them, none of them on air talent.

My own local newspaper, Kitsap Sun, informed me that its weekly television program section will cost me $1 a week if I want to continue to receive it.

USA Today, obviously eying an opportunity in homes where the Seattle Post Intelligencer is no longer on the doorstep, has offered to send me their paper at home for 50 cents a copy, or half what it costs at the news stand.

Obviously, not all the newspapers are suffering like Detroit, for example, where they have just ended home delivery of the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. They advise readers to hit the online for news then.

So what else is happening around the nation, since this meltdown is not confined to any one area or business? Well, let me enlighten you from the USA Today copy I received as a teaser. This is from a one-day listing of news from all 50 states, state by state.

ALASKA — Firefighters in Anchorage agreed to give up a pay raise this year to help the city get past a financial deficit. The union admitted there was some opposition but ultimately the majority thought it was the right thing to do. Why not?

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Dozens of hotels are fighting a proposed fee for picking up passengers in shuttles at the region’s airports. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority wants $2.50 for each trip it shuttles to the airports. The hotels estimate the fees could cost them as much as $40,000 a year. I see the use of a lot of government cars transporting visitors in the future.

MICHIGAN — School administrators have recommended closing eight schools over the next two years as part of an effort to save $3.9 million. If accepted, the plan would mean that a third of the district’s 35 buildings will close between last May and 2011. The plan includes laying off 212 employees, most of them teachers. If they can still accommodate all the students, they obviously over built.

RHODE ISLAND — The state has stopped granting tuition waivers at state colleges to employees of the Education Dept., the public TV station and their families, citing the recession and political pressure in rescinding the policy. Washington state has some similar programs for education employees as I recall. Needs looking into.

MASSACHUSETTS — Anti-smoking activists are calling on state lawmakers for a tax hike on smokeless tobacco, loose tobacco and small cigars, sayings it could net $10 to $13 million a year for the cash-strapped state. They want to bring the tax level on these tobacco products to the same level as cigarette taxes. I find it hard to believe Washington doesn’t already tax anything even remotely resembling tobacco.

NEW JERSEY — Gov. Corzine has been given the authority to force state workers to take unpaid furloughs. The Civil Service Commission adopted an emergency rule to give state and local governments authority to order temporary layoffs. The governor has threatened to lay off up to 7,000 workers unless unions make concessions.

Any of these sound good to you? Tell your legislators.

Adele Ferguson's picture
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