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Everyone needs a check-up now and again, even the health care industry. That was the thinking behind a new report from the Association of Washington Business and our nonprofit affiliate, the AWB Institute.
First, the good news: Less than a year after experts warned that Washington’s workers’ compensation system was headed toward insolvency, it appears to be headed toward solid ground. Reforms adopted earlier this year by the Legislature — at the urging of the Association of Washington Business and others — have put the state in a position where it doesn’t need to raise workers’ comp taxes at all next year in order to “break even” on paying for benefits to injured workers. In fact, the state could hold the line on rates in 2012 and still bring in slightly more — 0.3 percent — than it pays out, according to an official estimate.
The Association of Washington Business is hitting the road in September. So much of what impacts business takes place in Olympia, but we know that it’s not always easy for a busy business owner to travel to the state Capitol to meet with lawmakers.
Next year will mark an important milestone for Washington’s energy future. Starting in 2012, 3 percent of the energy supply for the state’s biggest utilities must come from “renewable energy” sources. The mandate is the first in a series imposed by Initiative 937, the 2006 measure that voters narrowly approved and ultimately requires utilities to obtain 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.
Word last month that Microsoft and Boeing plan to give a combined $50 million to jumpstart a new college scholarship fund was a welcome — and unfortunately rare — bit of good news regarding higher education in our state. Combined with a state match, the money will leverage $100 million toward a planned $1 billion endowment that will fund scholarships for middle-and low-income students who major in high-demand fields.
CEO Magazine just came out with its latest ranking of the best and worst states for business, and the news isn’t too encouraging for Washington state. We fell four spots, dropping from 30th in 2010 to 34th this year. Even more troubling is the long-term decline. In the last five years, Washington has dropped 18 spots in the business magazine’s annual listing, which looks at “taxes and regulation,” “workforce quality,” and “living environment,” among other factors.
It’s accepted as a matter of conventional wisdom that Washington is a “green” state. One glimpse of the landscape reaffirms our beautiful and diverse — and green — geography. Forbes magazine said we’re the third-greenest state in the country based on a variety of key environmental factors. Our nickname is even the “Evergreen State.” Still, it’s one thing to rely on conventional wisdom and another to point to facts. That’s why the Association of Washington Business commissioned a new study to see just how “green” we really are.
EAST WENATCHEE — Firefighters expected to contain a large brush fire on Badger Mountain by the middle of this afternoon. The fire never threatened any structures and burned only grassland, said Doug Miller, fire marshal for Douglas County Fire District 2. He did not have an estimate of acreage burned.