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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 31, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Washington state budget decisions

Cutting living will Web site a no brainer

We are facing a $9,000,000,000 budget deficit this year (I wrote it with digits rather than using “billion” to emphasize the size of the number).

So when I read an article telling us that $180,000 is being cut from the budget to operate an online registry of living wills [“Budget cuts endanger state registry of living wills,” page one, March 28], all I can think is, “Good — there’s $180,000 we shouldn’t have been spending anyway.” I couldn’t believe reading a quote saying, “This is one of the most shortsighted cuts imaginable.” Huh? 600 people have signed up for this registry. It costs $180,000 a year to run. That’s $3,000 per person. And for what?

Living wills have worked for a long time without online, state-run registries. If there is truly a benefit to an online registry of living wills, then I’m sure some enterprising company will fill the void — perhaps even the one that is currently contracted by the state to develop the site.

— Jim Kelly, Redmond

Residents can give even more to state parks

The front-page article on state parks [“Would you pay $5 to keep state parks open?” Times, March 30] was technically correct on one way people could contribute to state parks now, but didn’t note that $5 is the suggested donation listed on vehicle license renewals.

State residents have the option to give more to support state parks by adding $25, $75 or greater amounts each year. Thoughtful folks go a step further when they request state parks special design plates that demonstrate support in a more visible way and also help fund resource protection and recreation in the Evergreen State’s parks.

Many of us remember the bad times of 2002, when parks in the southeast were given up and we had to reach for our wallets each time we drove into publicly owned parks. We are more than happy to pony up $50 or more when we renew our vehicle tabs. We appreciate the services we get from state government and understand that our state parks have been inadequately funded for years.

— Reed Waite, Seattle

Early prison release a dangerous solution to economy

I have read that the state wants to possibly close McNeil Island and the Washington State Penitentiary main east complex as a solution to state budget problems [“Closure of McNeil Island prison on the table,” Politics Northwest, March 17].

That would result in hundreds of staff losing their jobs and thousands of convicted felons being released onto the streets to join the already swollen ranks of the unemployed.

You really think they are going to be offered jobs when there are not even enough for the public as it is? Early release is not a new idea and has been tried over and over before and failed. This is a stupid nonsolution that would only make the economy worse and put the public at great risk. Washington already has a higher prison population out on the streets than most states do. I believe we have more than enough crime to go around the state already.

— Edward Downs, Walla Walla

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