Pierce Pioneer

Gov. Inslee extends state COVID restrictions to Jan. 4

On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that current state restrictions have been extended to Jan. 4, past its original end-date of Dec. 14. Inslee has since partnered with Lisa Brown, the department of commerce director, to announ+ce an additional $50 million care package plan for small businesses in Wash.
As reported on the gov.’s official site, this three-week extension follows healthcare systems nearing high occupancy levels coming from the aftermath of Thanksgiving. With the number of potential cases not yet known, the extension allows medical systems time to increase ICU capacity before it risks being overwhelmed.
Secretary of Health John Wiesman, as cited by the Medium, goes on to state what officials aim to gain from this extension. “We all hoped a fall surge would not materialize. Sadly, that was not the case and our hospital systems continue to be heavily impacted by rising cases,” Wiesman said.
“It’s important we stay the course right now. We cannot let our guard down, even though it’s hard and we’re tired. We need people to mask up, stay home as much as possible and delay gatherings with anyone outside your home.”
Since restrictions first began, Wash. has provided billions in federal and state funds to assist small businesses and workers affected by the pandemic, according to the Medium. However, this $50 million will be strictly for businesses usage, as it comes from the Working Washington grants. Businesses meant to benefit from this care package include restaurants, gyms, venues and fitness centers.
“The needs among our small businesses are profound, and speed is of the essence,” Brown said. “This additional funding allows us to double the number of small businesses we can provide aid to, but we know it’s not enough. As we battle the toughest months of this pandemic, we need Congress to step up so we can support our businesses and workers as we continue asking them to do these hard things.”
Currently, Wash. roughly totals in 195,000 confirmed cases, with nearly 20,000 of those cases stemming from Pierce County alone, as reported by Google statistics. Despite this, Wash. ranks 15th in lowest number of cases in the United States, based on weekly case reports provided by the CDC’s official site.
Alongside this information, the Washington State Department of Health announced that since the release of WA-Notify, more than a million users have joined within 24 hours of its availability. Whether or not an app meant to help users stay on top of potential COVID exposures will help the curve in the long-run, remains to be seen.
Regular updates on COVID restrictions in Wash. are provided in full on Inslee’s official site. Quick updates on this story will continue to be uploaded here in the meantime.

A look at the 2020 Washington voters’ candidates and what stances are being put on the spotlight

The United States nears the end of its election season, as the final day to vote remains Nov. 3, less than a week away. As tensions between parties continue to rise, many outlets, including the Washington Post and CNBC, are reporting record numbers for early-voters.

The presidential vote comes down to former Vice President and Democratic nominee Joe Biden and current President Donald Trump. While the nation collectively decides on its next president, local state government positions are also being put to the vote.

As of Oct. 20, 1.2 million early-voters have been reported by the Washington Post, a number less than those voting in the 2016 elections. While it’s easier to focus on the presidential elections, a state governor can be just as important as the next elected president. 

State laws and policies are much more likely to affect a citizen’s life on a day-to-day standpoint, as it can include issues such as taxes, travel, and local health and education. With a number of proposals being placed on this year’s ballots, including a potential new state governor, it is important to be up-to-date on what laws or restrictions might be passed this upcoming year.

While many topics and candidates are up for vote, here are the big topics being discussed on this year’s ballots:

Washington State Governor

Running for state governor this year includes Republican nominee Loren Culp, and the Democratic nominee and current state Governor Jay Inslee.

Inslee seeks out a third-term win after having served two prior as Washington’s state governor. Meanwhile Culp, while having no prior experience in politics, is a military veteran with more than 20 years of business experience.

 

The candidates

 

 

 

Jay Inslee

Inslee

Is for raising minimum wage

Supports paid leave

Is for placing bans on assault weapons

Is for abortion rights

Is for COVID-19 Social Distancing Restrictions

 

 

 

Loren Culp

Culp

Is against new state-income taxes/raising property taxes
Supports minimal government involvement
Is against stricter gun laws
Is against the Right to Work Legislation, or workers choice to joining unions

 

Referendum Measure No. 90
The Sex Education in Public Schools Measure

A Senate Bill passed in March 2019, Referendum 90 would provide a broader sexual health education for students within sixth through twelfth grade if approved. “Instruction would need to be provided at least once to students in grades K-3, once to students in grades 4-5, twice to students in grades 6-8, and twice to students in grades 9-12,” stated Ballotpedia.

If Referendum 90 is not approved, public schools would not be required to provide extensive health education to students.

 

 

Proposed Constitutional Amendment
The Authorize Fund Investment of Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Account Amendment

If rejected, Washington Legislatures would not be granted the ability to invest the Long-Term Care Services and Supports Trust Account into stocks or other methods of investment, limiting investment for the accounts to government and corporate bonds and certificates of deposit.

However, if approved, Washington Legislatures will be given the ability to take these existing accounts and place funding into stocks or other methods of investment

 

Washington Advisory Vote 32
Washington Advisory Vote 32, Nonbinding Question on Carryout Bag Tax

This concerns the maintenance or repeal of Senate Bill 5323, regarding the taxation of carryout bags in certain counties.

If voting to maintain, this would continue to impose taxes on certain carryout bags provided by retailers. If rejected, this would repeal this tax.

 

Nov. 3 is the final day for all votes to be submitted if there are any stances here you want your voice to be a part of. Votes are continuing to be held through mail in ballots, online, or in-person throughout Washington state. There is no time to waste.

targeting tuition

Valerie Ettenhofer
Staff Writer

It’s likely impossible to find a state budget that fits the interests of all groups, but this year college students in particular are facing a double-edged sword.

The budget for next year will be formed out of proposals negotiated by the state Senate, House of Representatives and Governor Jay Inslee. This year, each budget proposal leaves a different amount of room for higher education.

As it stands, Governor Inslee has proposed that tuition stay the same, while the Senate is pushing a bill that would decrease tuition by three percent. The House budget includes a three percent increase in tuition.

The Senate is proposing to cut local tuition by three percent, which may be a good deal for many students. However, this also means that Pierce College would lose three percent of its income, leading to budget cuts within the school.

According to faculty union president Beth Norman, programs such as the CTC Link project, which is meant to make transferring credits more efficiently, take their funding from tuition and could be affected by a decrease.

In a recent Student Government meeting, it was pointed out that any change will be better than last year’s 12% jump in tuition.

Under the Senate’s proposed budget, a student taking 15 credits would save about $40 per quarter. This is a nice chunk of change, but with thousands of students paying less, the lower rates will also likely lead to visible penny-pinching within the school’s budget.

Inversely, a tuition increase like that proposed by the House would likely cause a drop in enrollment. Recent skyrocketing tuition has already made community college prices more comparable to former prices of state universities.

The American Federation of Teachers released a statement on April 4, calling the Senate’s budget “unrealistic, unsustainable and unfair” and stating that “if the Senate Republican budget goes forward, it will wipe out any other so-called increases in higher education funding. The per-student funding for higher education in this state will drop from second to the last place in the nation. Quality and access are suffering at a time when our business community is begging for people with college degrees and certificates. “

The Senate did propose to add an additional $300 million increase to preserving higher education, and pledged $1.5 billion to K-12 education. Some of this will go toward a system of “momentum points,” a reward system of funding that gives schools a proportion of money based on the amount of students enrolled who are reaching specific benchmarks of success.

The House budget also includes this type of performance funding, though it is offering to divert 10 million dollars toward that effort in comparison to the Senate’s 36 million dollars.

However, the Senate also proposed cuts to community colleges. A statement from Joann Wiszmann, Vice President of Administrative services, explained that “over two years, the Senate would cut 11.6 million dollars” from community colleges across the state, with Pierce expected to take on about four percent of that cut.

On the other hand, House Democrats proposed a budget that would increase overall spending by ten percent compared to the Senate’s seven. This would include eliminating tax breaks to funnel money toward education; this may cause a rise or extension in taxes on beer, businesses and nonresident shoppers.

On the other hand, the House budget includes a three percent jump in tuition, which would increase potential revenue to the college, but could also push potential and returning students away from enrolling due to cost.

$1.9 billion dollars of the House proposal would go toward educational funding, much of it as a direct response to a state Supreme Court ruling that concluded that the state isn’t “adequately funding basic education,” according to “The News Tribune.”

Governor Inslee proposed a plan that is similar to and in support of the House budget. Under his plan tuition would stay the same while several tax breaks would end.

Each plan does include clear-cut benefits to community colleges, including new funding for nursing, aerospace and STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] programs, though it hasn’t been determined how much of these budget allocations Pierce College would receive.

There are high points for teachers as well, who will see an end to the three percent salary reduction that is currently in effect regardless of which budget plan is implemented.

Government budget negotiations are planned to continue in the upcoming weeks.

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