Tuesday morning's headlines: Banks 'stressed' ... higher ed reforms proposed ... salmonella outbreak prompts sprout recall

Jan 4, 2011

Washington banks among most stressed in US, push to reform higher education funding, and a recall on sprouts after a salmonella outbreak.

State's Banks Rank 2nd as Most Stressed

Nearly half of the banks in Washington State are under financial stress or have failed over the past three years of the economic downturn. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports the state's community banks, with loans concentrated in construction and development, make the system the second hardest hit in the nation, trailing only Arizona's banks"

Today, of the 80 banks that exist in the state, 28 are considered stressed, or have enforcement orders against them. That means 35 percent of banks in Washington are “troubled.”

The Journal cites a report in the blog Calculated Risk released last week that compares all states. Overall, nearly 16% of US banks have failed or were listed as 'problems.'  Journal reporter Kelly Gilblom compared the information to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, corroborating Washington's position.  

The Journal offers a list of stressed Washington banks, updated last fall.

 

Task Force: State's Colleges Need More Autonomy, Private Funding

Washington's public universities should be able to set tuition rates to stay affordable and competitive. That's one of the recommendations from a task force assembled by Gov. Chris Gregoire charged with finding ways to increase the number of graduates at the state's four year colleges and universities. 

KPLU's Charla Bear reports the legislature alone has the authority to set tuition rates. Last year, the legislators rejected a plan to give limited tuition-setting authority to schools, worried that it could leave college unaffordable to many students. 

To offset higher tuition, the governor wants to raise private dollars for scholarships:

She would create an endowment that would fund "Washington Pledge Scholarships" for low and middle income students.  The goal is to raise $1 billion.  So far, no one has committed to making a pledge when the program gets underway.

Microsoft VP Brad Smith chaired the task force. Its members intend to lobby the legislature when the legislative session begins later this month. on the Wing

 

Salmonella Cases Prompt Sprout Recall

If you've purchased clover sprouts from the Kent-based company Sprouters Northwest, state health officials are urging you to check your packages for "best by" dates of Jan. 16th or earlier. If those dates match, throw them out, they say. The company has agreed to a voluntary recall.

Six people in Washington and Oregon have been sickened by an outbreak of Salmonella Newport. None have been hospitalized. The illnesses in this state were reported in King, Kitsap, Benton and Grays Harbor counties.

Restaurants and delis are being asked to check their stock and pull the recalled product, labeled "Clover Sprouts" or mixed sprouts that contain clover.