Cheers: To Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell. The Democrat's first bill of the 113th Congress would make permanent the sales tax deduction for Washington residents and those of other states who don't pay state income taxes. Most states, such as Oregon, tax the incomes of their residents. When it comes time to file federal returns, many of those taxpayers can deduct the state income taxes they paid. But Washington residents, who pay the highly regressive sales tax, can't do the same without frequent reauthorization. In a news release, Cantwell notes that the deduction puts an average of nearly $500 back into the pockets of 950,000 Washington taxpayers. It's time to make the deduction permanent.Jeers: To initiative king Tim Eyman. Probably best known for his anti-tax work, the Mukilteo businessman/activist is also an avowed foe of red-light cameras. These cameras are the ones mounted at traffic signals to detect and photograph vehicles that run the lights. The registered owner then receives a citation in the mail. They aren't used in Southwest Washington, but they are in Wenatchee, where Eyman was trying to start an initiative to remove the cameras. The effort ended after the city successfully sued to stop the challenge. Then, according to The Wenatchee World, Eyman fired off emails to local officials, with copies to the media, accusing them of arrogance, obstinance and "disrespect of the people you claim to represent." When it was pointed out that Eyman has never met any of the officials, he apologized, to his credit. Eyman should know that public pronouncements should be made only after an apology-potential review.
Cheers: To members of Vancouver's Special Abilities gymnastics team, which last weekend competed in its first meet sanctioned by USA Gymnastics. The nearly two dozen team members train at Vancouver's Naydenov Gymnastics, and have previously competed in various events including the Special Olympics. But Sunday's event with gymnasts of all abilities was a big moment, as team members were judged against the sport's national standards. No wonder the audience reacted, encouraging each competitor with a warm round of applause.
Jeers: To overwrought gloom and doom surrounding the new Boeing 787. The new plane, developed in Washington state, was justifiably grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration after serious problems with its lithium ion batteries. Like many other parts of the plane, the batteries are innovative for a passenger jet. The problems will need to be fixed before the planes can be put back into service, and the problem overall is troubling. But critics have been quick to suggest the plane has fatal flaws or at least major problems that will cause major financial consequences for the company, the state's largest employer. Wiser observers say the 787's problems are to be expected on an all-new aircraft, and today's most reliable planes, such as the 767, had problems when they were new, too.
Cheers: To broad access to broadband Internet. A new report from the state Commerce Department indicates that 98.7 percent of the state's residents live in areas where broadband is available, 83 percent live in households with Internet access and 73.8 percent of the state's residents regularly use their home broadband connection. OK, probably a lot of this broadband was consumed by pulling down YouTube videos, posting Facebook messages and (we hope) checking all of the great stories constantly updated at www.columbian.com. But the report also notes gross business income from broadband-enabled electronic shopping grew for the third straight year, topping $3.1 billion. And our state is second only to California in the number of "apps economy" jobs with 49,800.