Monday morning's headlines
Eyes turn to Olympia on eve of budget talks, Bellevue takes a hit, Pierce County plans protections against nature's hits, and the Huskies fight their way to a Holiday.
A Special Legislative Session?
Olympia gets active this week. Lawmakers are showing up to talk about January's legislative session. Advocates for low-income elderly and mental health programs will be there to greet them. They want to make sure their voices are heard on the eve of budget decisions that are sure to eliminate some state programs. KPLU's Austin Jenkins reports this morning the talks could lead to agreement on a pre-Christmas special session:
Various proposals are floating around Olympia to close a projected one-point-one billion dollar shortfall in the current two-year budget. The question is can majority Democrats in the legislature get quick agreement on an initial round of cuts to start solving that problem. If so, Governor Chris Gregoire wants call a special session that would last a day or two.
Senate Republicans are ready with their budget plan, as is Gregoire. Major cuts to health care, education and corrections are expected if legislators are to balance the current budget, and plug a nearly $6 billion gap in the coming two years.
Tight Times for Bellevue
County and city leaders are facing intense pressure to balance budgets. In Bellevue, the city council will vote tonight on plans to cut its $10 million gap. It's expected to mean layoffs and cuts to the the city's capital budget. The Seattle Times reports:
The council already has agreed to borrow close to $400,000 from its rainy-day reserve to help pay for the lighting and events. When it hammers out the final details Monday night, it could end up borrowing an additional $500,000 to ensure the $150 million budget includes funding for two motorcycle police officers and an aid car.
The plan includes $100 million in cuts to its capital budget, including delays to some planned road improvements. Parks and community centers will also feel the pinch with reduced services and weekend hours.
Pierce County Readies for Floods, Climate Change
The News Tribune takes a fascinating look this morning at the plans Pierce County is making to protect people and homes from floods. They're battling an increased frequency of intense winter storms and rising river beds because of debris coming down from Mt. Rainier, which is having a significant affect on managing future flooding. Reporter Mike Archbold writes prevention plans include:
- Portions of the county’s seven major rivers will be allowed to naturally snake back and forth to ease flooding.
- Some riverside neighborhoods and homes will be bought and demolished rather than left to face repeated flooding.
- Flood walls will rise around certain priority areas, like the Port of Tacoma, subdivisions, sewage-treatment plants and roadways.
The beds of the White, Carbon and Puyallup rivers have risen four to eight feet in places over the past 25 years. Planners worry about retreating Mt. Rainier glaciers exposing the lowlands to increased risk of flooding.
Huskies Go Bowl-ing
The UW football program will play a post-season game for the first time in nearly a decade. The Huskies will play in San Diego's Holiday Bowl at the end of the month. Their opponent: Nebraska. The Cornhuskers thrashed Washington in Seattle earlier this season, 56 to 21. The Seattle PI.com notes the Huskies met a late season challenge to avoid a losing season:
The Huskies had to win three straight games to become bowl eligible, and they will be facing a team that dealt them a major setback earlier in the season.
Washington senior quarterback Jake Locker will be playing one more game in a purple jersey, after the Husky rally to beat Washington State in Pullman on Saturday. Locker tells Sportspress Northwest the late season surge is the mark of a team that has learned lessons since the early loss to Nebraska:
“I think it was really good for us as a team and a program because it’s something we haven’t dealt with well in the past,” Locker said.
Nebraska lost the Big 12 championship Saturday to Oklahoma. They had been ranked at #17. The Holiday Bowl will take place December 30th.