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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 18, 2008 at 2:52 PM

State budget cuts

Cut something else

The governor’s budget-advisory panel has released recommended budget cuts this week. Those cuts propose eliminating community networks that operate under the guidance of the Family Policy Council.

Community networks exist throughout the state, were put into place by citizen vote, and function as the organizing entity for citizens to come together at the local level to reduce problem behaviors such as child abuse, youth suicide, violence and drug abuse.

Networks leverage funds and nearly countless volunteer hours for their communities. To eliminate such a program during this period of economic stress is foolish. Cutting the networks tells citizens they are not welcome at the governor’s table. Gov. Christine Gregoire needs to ignore her panel on this one.

— Rochelle Riling, Okanogan

More campaign rhetoric?

Under threat of the slowing economy, Gov. Christine Gregoire may be reassessing her earlier pledge to implement and fund a health-care program for small businesses called the Health Insurance Partnership [HIP]. The program essentially uses employee, employer and state funds to provide workers in small businesses with “Basic Health”-type coverage using a sliding scale.

Now, with growing uncertainty about the state’s economy in the months ahead, there is talk that the money may no longer be available to implement the plan.

To even contemplate cutting it suggests that the program is not fully appreciated for how it would aid the state in weathering any economic storms that lay ahead. With a growing number of national businesses announcing large layoffs, it seems a clear priority to ensure the health of our state’s economic backbone — its small businesses.

Providing fair and affordable health care to our small businesses is one way to help inoculate this critical segment of our economy against a potential economic downturn, and would benefit the state budget in several ways: Lower health-care costs allow small businesses to retain more workers who can then continue to contribute to the state as taxpayers, rather than becoming unemployed recipients of government assistance; reduced health-care costs also reduce expenses and enable more businesses to remain in operation, providing employment and revenue for the state.

Then too, fewer workers without health care (who can’t afford it) means fewer days lost to illness — another savings to employers and the state. And we all know who picks up the bill for sick workers who show up at the hospital without insurance — the state, and at a much-inflated price tab.

Unlike the federal Wall Street bailouts that paid for annual bonuses and golf junkets, the modest funding of the HIP program will pay dividends benefiting all of Washington.

— Todd Putnam, Seattle

Comments | More in Economy, Politics, Washington Legislature

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