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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 2, 2009 at 4:00 PM

State legislative session

Cap greenhouse-gas emissions, create green jobs

Need a job? Help pass Cap and Invest.

Tens of millions of dollars are pumped out of the state each day to pay for imported fossil fuels. That’s money we should be putting to work here in Washington state.

The cap-and-trade bill, which was revealed by Gov. Christine Gregoire last week, is a fast step in the right direction to keeping our money local. Both bills, House Bill 1819 and Senate Bill 5735, would create a cap-and-trade system, putting our state on a firm path to meet our global warming, pollution-reduction goals.

By partnering with six states and four Canadian provinces, we will first put a cap on the amount of greenhouse-gas emissions that major companies produce. After capping these companies at a certain level, these bills will require them to either keep that level consistent or gradually reduce it.

Also, by requiring polluters to buy permits if they wish to pollute, we will generate enough money to enhance our clean-technology innovation. It will be possible to create green jobs and assist working families struggling with high-energy costs. According to the Office of Financial Management, these investments would help support 2,900 jobs for the next two years.

Furthermore, by ending our dependence on fossil fuels, a cap-and-trade system will drive our transition to a stable and more prosperous economic future.

If passed, the program will not take place until 2012, so it’s important that Washington acts now. This legislative package will greatly benefit our economy while protecting our interests in the national climate-policy debate, and position us for success in the new energy economy.

— Gabrielle Evans, Greenwood

Third strike for three-strikes law

It is time to remove Robbery 2 from the list of “three strikes, you’re out” offenses.

Washington was the leader in this three-strikes legislation. It is time for us to be a leader in correcting it.

Something is foul in the state of Washington and the nation when Bernard Madoff, who has ruined so many lives, gets mansion arrest, and a third-time purse snatcher is in prison for life.

We need to support Senate Bill 5292 to remove Robbery 2 from “three strikes.”

— Ruth Yarrow, Seattle

Simplifying school finances

Our Legislature is meeting in Olympia right now and one of the biggest long-term issues on the table is developing a new K-12 school finance system.

A bipartisan, legislative task force has developed a new, transparent model for funding a “basic education” system in Washington state, as required by our state constitution. It uses a prototypical school as the basis for figuring costs.

The current system is extremely complicated; we can’t determine the true cost of educating Washington state students. Funding increases would be paid for by K-12 education assuming a larger share of the general fund (50 percent as it was historically). Funding would increase over six years, starting in 2011.

House Bill 1410 and Senate Bill 5444 embody these changes. Find them online at www.leg.wa.gov.

What is the response? The bills are supported by the state PTA, the League of Education Voters, Stand for Children, 35 Puget Sound school superintendents and parents from across the state. The Washington Education Association (WEA) opposes the bills and has been lobbying against them aggressively.

The legislators who drafted these bills need our support. Will you e-mail them, write them or call them? Our legislators want to represent us, but they need to hear from us.

— Kirsten Taniguchi, Woodinville

Comments | More in crime/justice, Education, Washington Legislature

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