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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 1, 2009 at 4:00 PM

State budget proposals

Jim Bates / The Seattle Times

Marine View Drive runs on the bridge over the gully where Saltwater State Park is located south of Des Moines. Saltwater is one of the parks being considered for closure as the state Legislature grapples with a $9 billion budget deficit.

Parks fee unfairly targets most vulnerable

Editor, The Times:

Democrats say the new parks fee is not a tax “because you could decline to pay it by checking a box on the license-renewal form” [“Would you pay $5 to keep state parks open?” page one, March 30].

By requiring that motorists opt out of a parks fee by checking a box on the vehicle registration renewals, Democrats are creating a new revenue source and unfairly targeting the very groups they rely on to justify other controversial policies: the poorly educated and non-English-speaking immigrants.

If the existing voluntary contribution option on vehicle registration forms is not providing enough funding for parks from literate, informed citizens, then the anticipated funding increase via the opt-out law must come from new “donors,” right?

The most probable donors under the new law are those who cannot read the form and are not aware that it could cost them $5 less to register their vehicles. After all, when I renew my registration, I am a willing donor or abstainer and that will not change.

Covert tactics like this undermine Democrats’ sentimental cries to help the most vulnerable among us. The new law may increase parks funding, but at whose expense?

— Sonya Jones, Olympia

Increase students, cut administration instead

While my father was a hobo riding the rails during the Great Depression, he decided to attend college and graduate school because it was cheap and easy to be admitted. So in the 1940s, instead of being a child of a hobo father, I was a child of a professor father. My life was changed — because it had been simple to go to school during the Depression.

Now the State of Washington is cutting 10,000 higher-education slots when our economy needs educated people [“Senate budget plan would rescind gains,” page one, March 31]. We could avoid this by cutting the education administration budget instead of the teaching budget.

We could increase student slots by requiring each college professor to teach 15 hours a week for no raise in salary — that’s how many hours all college professors taught during the Great Depression. Research and administrative work was in addition to teaching 15 hours.

The constitution of the state of Washington says the state’s highest priority is education, morally requiring us to assist students to attend college.

Let’s do the education thing right — train the teachers and scientists needed to make the discoveries and inventions that will bring our economy back to being the best in the world. Cut administration — increase students.

— Susan McKeehan, La Conner

Crisis caused by irresponsible spending

Nobody, but nobody, should fail to understand that the Washington state budget crisis is, in fact, not a result of the recession but the direct result of Democratic legislators and the Democratic governor’s irresponsible spending the past four years. They simply created a legacy that could not be maintained.

It was the same mentality that led to the national housing bubble and collapse.

And just as taxpayers are being called upon to bail out the banks, so too will state Democrats call on the taxpayers to bail out their irresponsible spending.

Just wait and see.

— Nick Shultz, Lake Forest Park

Leave it to the professionals

Why don’t the state of Washington and other government agencies use qualified, trained CPAs and other financial planners to do the budget planning, as they are more experienced at financials then politicians who can’t even balance their own checkbooks?

That is what CPAs do for a living. I ran my own business for 11 years and was successful because I listened to my CPA. They understand income versus expenses and planning ahead.

— William L. “Bill” Brayer, Edmonds

Stop anti-public-employee sentiments

The Seattle Times’ anti-public-employee sentiments were again reiterated in “A slim state budget” on March 31 [Opinion, editorial].

These comments add fittingly to the anti-union sentiments already on display in your paper during the Boeing strike and the present dissolution of U.S. automobile manufacturing. It’s as if your editorial board fails to realize that a laid-off public employee or union worker is the same as a laid-off Boeing or Microsoft worker.

Ironically, the same institutions of higher education you wish to see reduced cuts to are staffed and supported entirely by state employees.

Get with it, Seattle Times. The public-employee bashing and white-versus-blue-collar rhetoric are trite and uncalled for.

— Nate Hough-Snee, Seattle

Misguided funding for suicide prevention

Building a fence on the Aurora Bridge is a bad idea because: The fence is unlikely to prevent a significant number of suicides; $7 million of public funds for this purpose is wasteful; and a fence could greatly mar the appearance of the bridge, a historic place and a city landmark.

Of 2,115 people in King County who committed suicide from 1998 to 2007, most (45 percent) used firearms. Another 142 jumped from high places, with only 36 (1.7 percent of the total) selecting the Aurora Bridge. A fence would prevent suicides by persons using the bridge, but not those choosing other locations or other means to take their own lives.

The proposed state budget for 2009-2011 includes an additional $6,087,000 for the fence with total costs projected to be $7,458,000. This project adds very little social, mental-health or community value.

Witnesses and others affected by a bridge or any suicide attempt could be seriously traumatized by the event. No one should minimize the importance of this consideration.

However, our purpose is to encourage our legislators to redirect funding from the Aurora Bridge fence project to agencies and groups that identify and treat mental illnesses, such as severe depression and bipolar illness, that are associated with most suicide attempts. An effort such as that could potentially make a big difference in the number of suicide deaths in our community.

— George W. Counts, Robert Vets and Peter Lawrence, Seattle

Comments | More in Economy, Washington Legislature

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