Budget cuts fast becoming reality. Plus: funding for higher education and unemployment news

April 23, 2009 | Alex Stone

Budget cuts become reality: Lawmakers in the state House and Senate have reached consensus on $4 billion in proposed cuts. Both budgets call for considerable cuts to hospital funding, nursing home care and the Basic Health Plan – vital programs that benefit everyone in our state. This accord means lawmakers will likely wrap up discussion by the end of the regular session, but not without a few more big decisions. House legislative leaders now turn their attention to the proposed sales tax increase, while Senate leadership debates higher education tuition increases. We’ve got a better idea: a tax on high incomes and redirecting windfall profits from oil companies. | Seattle Times

Higher ed on the way out: Washington state lawmakers, faced with a gaping budget deficit, have expressed their commitment to ‘spread the pain’ so there are no ‘winners or losers’. But with 23-31% cuts and 28% tuition hikes over the course of two years, those words feel more like lip service. Whole programs will be cut, teachers and staff will lose jobs, and our state institutions will no longer attract and retain top talent to Washington. Generations of middle-class families have benefited from access to top-tier colleges and universities – it’s a shame to simply cut funding when times are tough, especially when other options are available. | Crosscut

Washington state unemployment, January 2002 to March 2009

Washington state unemployment, January 2002 to March 2009

Expect the unexpected: Jobless claims across the U.S. rose higher than expected last week, topping 640,000 for the 4-week period and bringing the national unemployment rate to 6.1 million. And with unemployment claims across the U.S. nearing 6.13 million, experts say many laid-off workers cannot find new jobs. Here in Washington, additional unemployment benefits for workers may be in jeopardy — a recent Senate bill weakens the House expansion of unemployment insurance and puts the economic security of thousands at risk. Washington’s unemployment rate now stands at 9.2%. | Everett Herald

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Posted in Education, Higher Education, State Economy, Tax and Budget, Work & Family

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