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News / Opinion / Editorials
The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

Cheers & Jeers: Taking credit; sturgeon decline

The Columbian
Published: February 4, 2023, 6:03am

Cheers: To the Working Families Tax Credit. A state tax credit that was passed in 2008 has finally been funded by the Legislature. Rebates on sales tax — up to $1,200 — will be available for low-income working families. State officials estimate they will pay out $230 million in refunds this year and $257 million in 2024.

Debates can be held about the worthiness and effectiveness of the program, but the fact that it has languished for 15 years amounts to an act of legislative malpractice. When passing even the most laudable of spending measures, lawmakers should ensure that those measures are adequately funded. Most current legislators were not in office in 2008, but the ones who are there now warrant cheers for fulfilling a promise made by the state.

Jeers: To “forever chemicals.” Perfluoroalkyl, polyfluoroalkyl and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid do not sound like anything we would welcome in our drinking water, but the city of Camas has found the substances in one of its wells. The latest test indicated 17 parts per trillion of the chemicals — not enough for grave concern, but above the state limit.

Known as PFAS, the substances are called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down naturally and can build up in the bodies of humans and animals. They have been linked to a variety of diseases and ailments. Camas officials can’t be certain of the source, but they have taken the affected well offline — at least temporarily. We hope the elevated levels do not persist forever.

Cheers: To the 747. Boeing has delivered its final 747, sending it to a cargo operator in Cincinnati. The 747 was created in 1969 and quickly revolutionized air travel. Capable of carrying 500 passengers, the jumbo jet connected international cities that previously did not have direct flights.

In recent decades, airlines and aerospace manufacturers have moved toward smaller, more efficient planes, relegating the 747 to cargo companies. But the plane’s impact on air travel and the Washington economy has been profound. Fittingly for an airliner known as the “Queen of the Skies,” pilots for the maiden flight of the last 747 traced a crown embedded with “747” over the skies of Eastern Washington. The aerial ballet added about 2½ hours to the flight time.

Jeers: To declining sturgeon. A new state report suggests that the population of sturgeon in the Columbia River has dropped precipitously. Estimates are legal-size sturgeon — those neither too small nor too large to be harvested — dropped from 110,100 in 2021 to 78,400 last year.

Juvenile populations have shrunk in recent years, making it difficult for fisheries managers to set harvest seasons. As one official said: “There’s going to come a time where we’re not sure about how these fisheries are going to proceed. One of the things that we’re considering at this time is whether or not they will proceed this year.”

Cheers: To Evergreen girls. We’re at that time of year when numerous high school teams are wrapping up league championships for the winter season. Few titles, however, will be as memorable as the one captured by the Evergreen High School girls basketball squad.

After winning one game last season, Evergreen secured its first league title in 43 years. “To be able to come in here and not just change the winning and the losing, but to be able to change the mindset … that’s been the really special part,” first-year coach Charles Neal said. Cheers for the Evergreen players and for all high school athletes who are wrapping up their seasons.