Economy

2011: It's not environment vs. jobs, but rather environment = jobs, says activist/politician

 EASTSOUND, ORCAS ISLAND – Everyone knows Washington’s budget crunch is going to be really severe come next spring. But it wasn’t until I heard state Sen. Kevin Ranker’s take on the situation the other day – complete with new numbers – that I realized how impossible it will be to realistically expect money for enhanced environmental protections in 2011.

Addressing members of the volunteer but quasi-governmental Marine Resource Committees of north Puget Sound counties, the San Juan County Democrat laid out in stark terms why it will be so hard to cut $5 billion from a $31 billion state budget. That alone would represent a 16 percent reduction from an already-decimated budget. But it’s actually worse than it sounds. Much, much worse.

Here’s why: Of that $31 billion, some $23 billion comes from categories that can’t really be reduced, Ranker said: debt service, Medicaid, prisons, pensions, transportation, the capital budget and the constitutionally protected state contribution to public education. (Now, the Sunday Seattle Times seemed to anticipate efforts to make some fairly substantial cuts there anyway. Ranker seemed to have access to newer and scarier numbers, though.)

What does that leave? Three areas get the remaining $8 billion of the state budget: Higher education, government services and natural resources (a.k.a. environment). “Government services” sounds like a likely place to cut until you understand that it includes money for senior citizens, health care, the needy and so forth.

 So $5 billion – and it could grow to $5.2 billion, Ranker says – is supposed to be cut out of $8 billion for those three areas. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Said Ranker:

Bringing Poverty Out of the Shadows

Greenville, Mississippi has suffered the loss of its core retail businesses.Rarely do we get to see such in-depth reporting on poverty as has just been produced by Claudia Rowe and Mike Kane for the Marguerite Casey Foundation.

In a series of articles written for the foundation's Equal Voice online newspaper, Rowe illuminates how the recession has devastated families across the U.S. with lasting generational consequences.

Together with Kane's compelling black-and-white photography, Rowe's reporting drills down on the systemic failures and problems of perception that are at the heart of class disparities in the United States.  

I used to work with both of them at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, so I can attest personally to the diligence and discipline that they bring to their respective fields. Check it out for yourself at www.equalvoiceforfamilies.org.  

Man in a van tells the nation's recession stories

B.C. plans on using natural gas revenue to boost economy

British Columbia is creating its own “stimulus package” by cutting royalties on drilling new natural gas wells in an attempt to boost its economy and combat Alberta, reports David Ebner of the Globe and Mail. From September through next June, all wells drilled in B.C. will be charged only 2 percent royalties, compared to a plan developed by Alberta earlier in the year that charges 5 percent. Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom says the program he dubs a “stimulus package” will generate revenue that will go toward education and health.

– Emily Linroth

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Domestic violence on the rise in midst of failing economy

Hot weather and a cold economy have combined to drive up domestic violence cases, according to local law enforcement officials in Deming, New Mexico. Cases often increase in summer months because of heat-related stress, but an increasing number of cases also seem to have joblessness and money worries as aggravating factors, writes Kevin Buey of the Deming Headlight.

Carol Smith's picture

Domestic violence on the rise in midst of failing economy

Hot weather and a cold economy have combined to drive up domestic violence cases, according to local law enforcement officials in Deming, New Mexico. Cases often increase in summer months because of heat-related stress, but an increasing number of cases also seem to have joblessness and money worries as aggravating factors, writes Kevin Buey of the Deming Headlight.

Weak salmon runs threaten Alaskan villages

Native villages along the Yukon and other Alaskan rivers have a hard winter coming, according to Mary Pemberton of The Associated Press. Declining king salmon runs follow spring floods and a struggling economy as the latest blow to the villages. The poor runs may be the result of changing ocean currents or river conditions, food availability, or predator/prey relationships. The salmon might also end up caught in massive trawl nets of the pollock fishing industry, killing salmon instead of allowing them to return to spawn. Whatever the cause, the fishery that was once stable is now in decline, threatening the livelihood of the villages that depend on salmon to boost the economy and get them through the winter.

– Emily Linroth

Green jobs going strong in OR

Jobs in wind power, solar energy and other "green" fields show signs of continuing to grow despite the recession, Kate Ramsayer reports for the Bend Bulletin. Some of the state-identified "green" jobs aren't what one might attach to loving the earth, though. For example, the biggest 2008-2010 forecast increase, 68 percent, is for "community and social services."