by Dan Richardson
Loopholes, Schmoopholes -- It's worse than we thought, the Washington Office of the Forecast Council announced Tuesday: The state's 2001-03 biennium deficit is actually closer to $1.5 billion, or about $250 million worse than thought a couple weeks ago.
In a statement about the deficit, Gov. Gary Locke says his office is considering ways to fill in the deficit, such as "closing outdated tax exemptions and loopholes."
Closing loopholes? Let's not be hasty -- we're only $1.5 billion in the hole. We wouldn't want someone to lose special tax breaks over that.
Evil Document -- "Evil and anti-human," is how mine owner Robert Hopper described a forthcoming EPA Superfund plan for the Coeur d'Alene basin to a CdA reporter. The plan has not yet been finished.
80/81 -- Those are two percentages the Spokane Regional Health District is watching closely. The state requires that 80 percent of retailers refuse to sell tobacco to minors when area health officials run tobacco stings; fall below that and state health dollars are at stake. The 81 percent is the January compliance rate during two stings (five failures out of 26 shops), according to a SRHD release.
Oh, Never Mind -- Spokane City Councilman Steve Eugster has been a steady champion of the city's righteous annexation of the Yardley area. Until he went to a community meeting last week and heard Spokane Valley residents bitc... er, complaining about the city, according to a Spokesman-Review report. (Eugster couldn't be reached for comment.) Seems there are two reasons for the change of heart: To help make a Valley city more viable by ceding it Yardley's tax money, and to kill incorporation supporters with kindness.
One wonders if those supporters, famous for their heated language, will suddenly become gracious. City residents who share the mayor's view that annexing places like Yardley is crucial to the city's continued liquidity aren't likely to be.
Strikeout -- It didn't say why, but Washington's Sentencing Guidelines Commission published a report (see www.sgc.wa.gov/publications.htm) on the state's "three strikes" law that shows black residents, while just 3 percent of the general Washington population, make up 37 percent of the three-strike lifers. The law requires that three-time repeat felons be locked up for life in prison. There are 173 three-strike lifers altogether, according to the report. Their average age is 38.
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