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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 4, 2008 at 3:01 PM

Trimming the state budget

A simple solution

We continue to incarcerate nonviolent people under the “three strikes” law for entire lifetimes at the rate of more than $1 million each [“Legislature, governor must find $5 billion in spending cuts without raising taxes,” editorial, Nov. 23].

Some 72 percent of those incarcerated under this legislation are in prison because of second-degree robbery strikes and/or second-degree assault strikes. Second-degree robbery does not involve weapons, injuries or violence. Most second-degree assaults are simple barroom brawls.

200 of these people multiplied by $1 million equals $200 million. This expenditure is a waste of human life as well as a waste of taxpayer dollars.

— Moira Hennings O’Crotty, Tacoma

Two houses — one too many

Unlike the U.S. House and Senate, both houses of the Washington state Legislature have to be based on districts of equal population. This makes the second house a redundancy and the Legislature costly and inefficient. Of our 50 States, only Nebraska realized this and operates with a one-house Legislature.

The 2007 to 2009 legislative operating budget was $165,845,000. With 98 state representatives and 49 senators, this budget comes to about $1,300,000 per member. If our national Senate can operate with 100 members, a one-house Legislature of 100 members should be sufficient to handle the state’s legislative duties.

If we had such a Legislature during the 2007 to 2009 biennium and if it operated at $1.3 million per member, the total budget would have been $130 million — a saving of more than $35 million. This is a reduction in cost of more than 20 percent and is about half of the cost of a new Keystone ferry.

A change to a one-house Legislature should come before a lot of the other cost reductions that have been proposed for the 2009 to 2011 state budget.

— Jack Sceva, Stanwood

Comments | More in Economy, Washington Legislature

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