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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 30, 2008 at 3:53 PM

King County budget

We get to fix what you’ve started

The future depends upon the health and well-being of our people, and as youths and high-school students of King County we are inheriting this community from those who may be ruining it for us.

In the 2009 proposed budget by King County Executive Ron Sims, a suggested $19 million will be cut from Health and Human Resources. Cutting and reducing these services not only violates our basic rights, but it will also add a greater strain to our dismal economy. The lack of these essential services could possibly cause more homelessness and disease, poverty rates and unemployment rates, and increase levels of violence. The increases would have devastating consequences, including raising our debt when forced to deal with these complications.

Even with these risks, the county appears to have had no other choice but to cut or reduce these programs because there is no extra money. We have a $943 million deficit and it is not going to pay itself off.

How can we solve this problem without slashing funding for what may be the most vital services for a fully functioning society?

We must increase public awareness. Many people think the only reason we are in a budget crisis is because of the economic turmoil we are facing in the U.S., which has contributed $58 million to the deficit.

Another tremendous factor is that voters imposed new limits lowering property taxes, causing King County revenues since then to grow unsustainably by 4.2 percent while our expenditures grew by 7.7 percent.

If property taxes had been sufficient to sustain services, we would currently have an extra $135 million more in the budget. If the media increasingly emphasized the necessity of Health and Human Services, the public would be more aware of how their lowered property taxes are affecting our most-vulnerable communities.

In the 2006 budget speech, Sims stated, “The most fundamental duty for any government is to care for the health and welfare of its people.”

Sims has not upheld this statement with the actions that may be put into place with the new proposed budget.

As youth still growing in our community, we hope our generation can fix what the past has started. Perhaps if more people listen and feel they have a voice, this situation can change for the better.

— Amy Johnson, Sarah Talvi, Katie Yam, Seattle

Comments | More in King County, King County Council

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