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Washington State News Archive

Below are archived news items for the current month. To view a previous month, choose it from the list below.

"SCHOOLS: WA math, reading scores up slightly"--Pasco/Kennewick/Richland Tri-City Herald
New data released by the US Department of Education shows that Washington students’ scores on national reading and math tests are slightly higher than they were two years ago. The scores are also just above the national average. Washington students finished with an average math score of 243 in fourth grade and 288 in eighth grade, while the national average was 240 for fourth grade and 283 for eighth grade. Less than 10 states averaged higher than Washington in both grades. - 11/01/2011

"Deaths from painkiller overdose triple in decade"--The Seattle Times
A new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the number of overdose deaths from prescription painkillers more than tripled over a decade. The report also shows that nearly 5% of Americans ages 12 and older say they have abused painkillers in the past year, meaning that they have used them without a prescription or just to get high. Data shows that fatal overdoses are more likely in men, middle-aged adults, whites, and American Indians. In an effort to help combat the overdose problem, a federal drug plan was announced earlier this year that calls for states to implement programs to track prescriptions and all but 2 – Missouri and New Hampshire - have approved them. Unfortunately, a number of states don’t have the programs in place yet and in states where they are in place, doctors are not yet using them enough to check on patients’ past prescriptions. - 11/01/2011

"Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary gets new mangement [sic] plan"--Port Angeles Peninsula Daily News
A new management plan for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary was adopted on Tuesday. The sanctuary, which stretches from Cape Flattery south 162 miles to the mouth of the Copalis River in Grays Harbor County and 25-40 miles offshore, “protects a productive ‘upswelling zone’ that is home to rich marine mammal and seabird faunas, diverse populations of kelp and intertidal algae, and thriving invertebrate communities, and has more than 150 document shipwrecks.” The plan provides a framework for refining the sanctuary’s education and outreach programs, for creating and enhancing partnerships, and for managing potential threats to marine resources. It includes a new ban on cruise ship wastewater dumping and new mapping techniques revealed that the sanctuary is only 2,408, not 2,500, nautical square miles. - 11/03/2011

"Rules could leave pain patients in a world of hurt"--Vancouver Columbian
As of January 2nd, new pain medication prescription rules that require patient evaluations, a written treatment plan, a written agreement for care, and four hours of training for the providers. Lawmakers passed a bill to implement the stricter rules last year, with the goal of reducing hospitalizations and deaths from opiate medications, not improving pain care. It is feared that physicians will start dropping pain patients and/or refusing to accept new ones, making it more difficult for patients to find care. - 11/06/2011

"State auditor’s report questions $43,403 in county grant monies"--Port Angeles Peninsula Daily News
A report released by the State Auditor’s Office on Monday states that “Jefferson County lacked internal controls to ensure compliance with federal grant requirements, resulting in questioned costs totaling $43,403.” According to the report, “the county charged $5,060 more in vehicle and equipment expenditures than the $10,000 allowed by the grant and was improperly reimbursed for $38,343 in salary costs.” Although the report carries no enforcement or penalties, it does recommend that the county establish internal controls to improve tracking and reconciling of federal grant funds into the county’s accounting system. - 11/08/2011

"Voters favor saving for ‘rainy day’"--Olympia Olympian
Two amendement to the Washington State Constitution are passing by wide margins after Tuesday’s election. One, Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 8206, expands the state’s “rainy day” savings account by taking more of surpluses in boom years to create a cushion for lean times. The other, U.S. Supreme Court < ahref="http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?navby=case&court=us&vol=405&invol=330">ruling. - 11/09/2011

"State tax collections dip $22 million for month"--Olympia Olympian
The latest economic and revenue update released by state revenue forecaster Arun Raha shows that tax collections for the month ending Nov. 10 were down by $22.5 million, or 1.9% below what was predicted in September. Cumulatively, tax collection is only about 0.5% or $11.8 million lower than what was forecast two months ago, but the potential for Euro-zone instability and the Europe’s ongoing debt problems to have impact on the U.S. means that the risk of new economic slowing or a recession is high. Now, all eyes are on the upcoming caseload forecast and Arun Raha’s revenue forecast through June 2013. - 11/11/2011

"CWU receives $11 million grant from U.S. Dept. of Education--Yakima Herald Republic
Central Washington University (CWU) has been awarded its third GEAR UP grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The latest grant, totaling $11.4 million, is aimed at helping low-income students in rural communities prepare for college. The federal GEAR UP program provides tutors, college visits, and higher education preparation assistance. The grant will serve current sixth- and seventh-grade students in the Brewster, Chelan, Quincy, Manson, Omak, Oroville, Tonasket and Highland school districts and seventh-graders will also receive support during their first year of college. - 11/14/2011

"Murray, Dicks present version of Olympic National Park wilderness additions"--Port Angeles Peninsula Daily News
U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks and Sen. Patty Murray have released a draft land and scenic river preservation proposal for the Olympic Peninsula. The proposal has significant differences from the one released by the Quilcene-based group, Wild Olympics, two years ago. Among the differences – the new proposal cuts nearly in half the amount of private land that could be purchased for additions to Olympic National Park and it removes most of the state Dept. of Natural Resources land that was included in the Wild Olympics proposal. The new proposal also designates about 130,000 acres of new wilderness on U.S. Forest Service land and it adds 23 river systems within Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest to the federal Wild and Scenic River System. Four public hearings on the proposal are scheduled in the coming weeks. - 11/16/2011

According to study, state has work to do bolstering Boeing ties"--Tacoma News Tribune
In response to a study by the consulting firm Accenture that recommends that the state bolster its technical and professional engineering education resources if it wants to hold on to its human advantages in the fight to have Boeing manufacture new planes here, Governor Gregoire has released an action plan to enhance the education of aerospace workers in the state. Included in the plan are a new aerospace curriculum at 12 high schools, a new science and mathematics problem-solving course at 10 high schools, a $7.6 million program to enhance engineering education at the University of Washington (UW) and Washington State University (WSU), and $1.5 million, plus additional funds from private donors, to create a Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation at UW and WSU. The total price tag for the action plan is $10 million, considerably less that the multi-billion plan the state presented to Boeing to win its first Dreamliner assembly line. - 11/17/2011

"Budget forecast still looks grim"--Olympia Olympian
The latest revenue forecast released by chief state economist Arun Raha predicts that revenues will drop by $122 million over the next two years. This means that the state will face a nearly $1.4 billion deficit through 2013, up from the $1.3 billion previously projected. If $266 million in “rainy day” funds are not used, the new deficit will actually total $1.6 billion. Raha says that there is a 40% chance that things could actually be worse than what he is forecasting, thanks to continuing problems in Europe and political gridlock in Washington, D.C. The more pessimistic forecast projects a deficit totaling $2 billion. - 11/18/2011

"State paid $500,000 for unused cellphones"--Seattle Times
An audit of state employee cellphone use within 89 of the largest agencies between March 2010 and February 2011 found that the state paid more than $500,000 in a year for 2,000 mobile devices that weren’t being used. All the contracts were maintained by the Dept. of Information Services and they were purchased through multiple carriers. In all, the one year analysis showed that the state spent $9.2 million on cellphone use, many phones were locked into inefficient plans, and over 6,500 phones were identified as being used minimally or not at all. The audit recommends that “agencies turn in all unused or little-used phones, use more prepaid phones, offer stipends to employees to use their personal phones for state business, and contract with a cellphone-optimization specialist who can match phone use with cost-effective plans.” - 11/18/2011

"Audit: Tumwater not reporting some assets"--Olympia Olympian
A financial audit of the City of Tumwater has found that the annual Government Accounting Standards Board Statements released by the city “did not ‘report infrastructure assets acquired after 1980 and before 2003,’ meaning the city ‘is not meeting Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in relation to its valuation and reporting of the city’s infrastructure and its associated depreciation.” The city contends that it has been disclosing for years that it has not been making the infrastructure asset reports. State auditors recommend that the city “devote adequate time and resources to the valuation and reporting of infrastructure” and the city says it will deal with the issue, although it needs funding to do so. - 11/22/2011

"Website gives young 'Twilight' fans the facts about Quileute people"--Everett Daily Herald
The Burke Museum in Seattle has created a website to help dispel myths and educate fans of the Twilight books and movies. The site, “Truth versus Twilight,” provides history, cultural information, and resources to learn about the real Quileute Nation. Fans can learn about native traditions and how Native Americans have been portrayed by Hollywood in the past, explore a “Fact vs. Fiction” page, and find books and movies that aren’t fantasy, but still capture the appeal of native cultures. - 11/29/2011


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