UW gets a president on a discount; lawmakers think about tax breaks

Media Roundup: Osama bin Laden aside, finances dominate the public agenda.

Media Roundup: Osama bin Laden aside, finances dominate the public agenda.

Somewhere under the din of news about Osama bin Laden, public life continues around the Northwest. So, let's take a minute to catch up with a few of the more significant news stories of the past few days.

Today (May 3), The Seattle Times picks up a story it had begun to report on the Web during the day Monday, detailing incoming University of Washington President Michael Young's salary. His base salary of $550,000 is a nice raise over the $348,000 he has been earning at the University of Utah. But it is about $100,000 less than that of his predecessor, Mark Emmert, and $75,000 less than what Washington State University President Elson S. Floyd receives, even after Floyd gave back $100,000 to WSU to help with the financial squeeze.

Times reporter Katherine Long put it in context:

Young has said he would take less than his predecessor, whose salary was a sore point for some lawmakers, faculty members and the public. At one point, Emmert was the second-highest-paid public-university president in the country.

Regents Chairman Herb Simon said Young's pay will rank him around the middle of the top-10 highest-paid public-university presidents.

In other words, the UW is still paying a competitive wage. But it is also paying attention to the concerns about parading itself around as a high flyer in the midst of serious economic difficulties for much of the state's population.

In Olympia, lawmakers continue on a path toward dealing with most of the state's budget difficulties. But, as The News Tribune reports, a Senate hearing on Wednesday will focus on bills to close some tax breaks. As Crosscut recently reported, Sen. Ed Murray of Seattle is leading the effort. In the TNT, Brad Shannon outlines the fault lines well, first quoting Murray on the defeat of tax measures by voters in the 2010 election:

“November wasn’t the last word,” Senate Ways and Means Committee chairman Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said Friday, explaining that he wants voters to have a chance to reconsider the vote requirement for closing corporate tax breaks. “I think voters change their minds.”

The Association of Washington Business disagrees strongly. The state’s chamber of commerce helped pass I-1053, and AWB lobbyist Amber Carter said bringing Murray’s Senate Bill 5944 to a hearing is an assault on I-1053.

Initiative 1053 is a Tim Eyman-led measure requiring supermajorities in the legislature for tax hikes or closures of tax breaks.

In Everett, The Herald reported Monday on one of those social-service difficulties where people can make a difference — at least that's what Compass Health hopes. The nonprofit, which provides mental health services in much of the Northwest corner of the state, is preparing to reopen 40 apartment units in Everett for low-income mentally ill adults.  A serious fire occurred at Northstar building there last year.

The Herald reported on the public's help last May and Compass Health's hopes for more assistance:

The public responded by providing donations and gift cards to buy clothing, food, blankets and other items lost in the fire. "I can't think of another situation in which we have received such an outpouring of support from the general community," Sebastian said.

With Compass' limited budget, Sebastian said he hopes the public will be willing to assist again.

The story has details on a fundraiser being held Thursday (May 5). The agency is also asking for such items as beds, bedding, and kitchen goods, along with help from groups or businesses willing to "sponsor" one of the rooms in the apartments.

The former residents reportedly have resettled well in other homes, but Compass Health has a list of 500 people waiting for housing.

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