Features

The Warning Sign for State DOT in Skagit Bridge Collapse

by Seattle Times Editorial

At a time when passage of a transportation package is critical to relieve congestion and remedy a huge state highway maintenance backlog, and the DOT’s management has been called into question by a stuck tunneling machine, the last thing the agency needs is another black eye. Yet the National Transportation Safety Board finds that state highway officials demonstrated a chilling obliviousness to danger.

Washington Health Exchange Sounds the Alarm, Questions Deloitte

by Patrick Marshall | Seattle Times

One message came through loud and clear at Monday’s meeting of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s Operations Committee: It may not be time to panic about the health exchange’s problem-riddled invoicing and payments system, but it is time to sound the alarm and get all hands on deck.

Washington Loses Bid to Avoid Sending Out Failing School Letters

by MELISSA SANTOS | Olympian

Washington state won’t get a pass this summer on telling parents that their kids attend failing schools, the federal government says. State Superintendent Randy Dorn said Monday it is unclear right now exactly how many schools will have to send letters home to parents, but that it will be “a majority” of schools in Washington. State officials will know for sure after they review test results that will come out in August, he said.

In Our View: Shine Light on Negotiations

by Columbian Editorial

When it comes to negotiations with public-employee unions, many states — including Oregon — require some openness in the negotiations. In Florida, for example, the bargaining is open, but strategy sessions involving just one side are closed. This makes sense as part of the art of negotiating process; but when both sides are meeting and discussing how to spend millions of taxpayer dollars, the people holding the pocketbook should be included.

Payment Slip-Ups Still Plague State Health-Insurance Exchange

by Patrick Marshall | Seattle Times

Problems with handling customer premium payments continue to bedevil the Washington state health-insurance exchange. So much so that a joint legislative committee’s hearing featured an extended discussion about what’s being done and who’s responsible.

STEM is Buzzword for Student Opportunity, from Tacoma to Washington, D.C.

by DEBBIE CAFAZZO | Tacoma News Tribune

One recommendation in last year’s Washington Roundtable report: The K-12 school system should enhance student interest in STEM subjects. Schools across the state have taken up the challenge. The report says that STEM workers in the greater Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area average $79,490. That compares with non-STEM workers at $45,072.

Time for Cathy McMorris Rodgers to Take Stand for Boeing, Export-Import Bank

by Seattle Times Editorial

International competition for Boeing on display at the Farnborough Air Show shows why GOP leaders can’t play games with the Export-Import Bank. Worried bank advocates say it’s not just about Boeing. Ninety percent of the Ex-Im Bank’s loans go to small businesses.

Ranks of Washington’s Medically Uninsured Have Fallen Below 9 Percent

by BRAD SHANNON | Olympian

The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner estimates that the overall 970,000 of uninsured residents has fallen by 38 percent to about 600,000. That drops the uninsured rate to 8.65 percent of the state, down from about 14 percent.

Lawmakers Quiz Health Insurance Exchange on Glitches, Budget

by Carol M. Ostrom | Seattle Times

Lawmakers grilled officials from Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange Thursday, making it clear they’ve heard plenty from constituents who say they’ve paid their premiums but still don’t have health coverage — in most cases because premiums, which they paid to the exchange, aren’t getting to the insurer. The lawmakers’ tales of patient woe were backed up by brokers, a representative of the state’s doctors and Len Sorrin, representing Premera Blue Cross.

Tumbling Down – State’s Jobless Rate Drops to 6-Year Low

by Marc Stiles | Puget Sound Business Journal

The state’s unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent in May to 5.8 percent last month. The nation’s rate was 6.1 percent. The primary job loss was in government, which was down 1,400 positions. Construction and manufacturing also lost 400 jobs each.