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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 2, 2009 at 4:00 PM

State budget cuts

Need a healthy, informed populace

In regard to the article “Senate budget plan would rescind gains” [page one, March 31], it seems ridiculous that the state Democrats plan to compromise their morals and beliefs simply because of a little financial trouble.

There are many other states in a worse condition than ours, and reducing our investment in the economic future of our state by cutting health-care and education funding seems contrary to every law of economics.

Our state will not recover with a sick, uneducated population –only an informed and healthy populace will be equipped to get our economy back on its feet.

— Jay Farber, Issaquah

Cuts outweigh federal funding for health care

More than 130 community health clinics across our state are experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of uninsured patients seeking care.

The $10 million federal stimulus recently announced is a welcome acknowledgment of this trend [“A needed lifeline for hospitals, clinics,” editorial, March 30].

But we must be clear: This is one-time federal funding that pales in comparison to the $300-400 million in health-care cuts proposed by the Legislature this week.

Clinic patient loads are increasing as funding resources for safety-net providers are being reduced to unsustainable levels. Clinics across the state are already anticipating layoffs, reductions in operating hours and extensive waiting periods for appointments. Proposed state budget cuts threaten the ability of community health clinics to serve their mission of caring for all who need care, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

For more than 30 years, community health clinics have woven a health-care safety net that now provides a health-care home to almost 650,000 Washingtonians each year. Communities across the state count on this safety net to be there when they need it, but the recently announced budget proposals will leave it in shreds.

— Rebecca Kavoussi, Community Health Network of Washington/Community Health Plan, Seattle

Health-care cuts hurt growing number of uninsured patients

On behalf of the uninsured patients at Neighborcare Health, I appreciate the small, one-time grant provided to us by the federal government to serve the growing number of uninsured people. Unfortunately, these dollars are dwarfed by the substantial cuts announced this week by the Legislature.

Neighborcare Health provides care for more than 19,000 uninsured patients annually at our 15 clinics and their numbers are rising as people lose their jobs and their health insurance. We are caring for the economically disadvantaged, the uninsured and unemployed, as well as the workers of small businesses that can no longer afford to offer insurance to their employees. Due to job loss alone, we anticipate an additional 112,000 people in Washington state will be uninsured by 2010.

The drastic cuts to programs such as Basic Health being considered by our Legislature could make tens of thousands more people uninsured virtually overnight and permanently cripple our state’s health-care infrastructure.

While the additional dollars from the federal government will help, they represent a small Band-Aid, insufficient to cover the gaping wound created by the state budget. We will all feel the pain if these budgets pass.

— Marcus Rempel, interim medical director of Neighborcare Health, Seattle

Don’t cut services for the blind

My father was 50 when he was in a tragic motorcycle accident that took from him his sight and independence. He has spent the last 18 months regaining use of his leg, which was badly damaged, and gaining back his confidence, with the loss of his sight. This could be anyone’s story

My father is now attending a school for the blind and thriving. I’ve seen more change from him in the last week than I have in the last 18 months. He’s becoming independent and social, and he’s happy.

At the school, he shares an apartment with another visually impaired man, and is relearning the basics in life: house chores, cooking, taking out the trash and taking care of himself. He is also learning computer and life skills to help him in the future.

This school is more than just an opportunity for people like my father to learn things in a new perspective; it’s a chance for them to become independent again, or for the first time ever.

He and my mother still live in Goldendale and without the apartment, which is funded by the school, my father would not have been able to participate in this amazing opportunity. The school is truly a blessing for the visually impaired, which is why my family and I were so saddened to learn that due to recent budget cuts, the school may be losing funding for the apartments.

This cut would mean that many students at the school would no longer be able to attend because, like my parents, they can’t afford housing if they don’t live in Seattle. Terms at the school can last anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending on what a person needs and wishes to gain from the program. Many students will not be able to continue their education after this term if funding is cut.

In Congress and throughout the government, at both state and local levels, money is being thrown away on unnecessary items and bad budgeting. The governor is requiring that the director of the Department of Services for the Blind present a plan for budget cuts.

I pray that the state of Washington makes it so the director can still offer services to the blind and that they can find a place in their budget for a program that gives visually impaired people, like my father, the independence and confidence they need to succeed in our society.

— Denielle Seaver, Goldendale

Funding for K-12 education in jeopardy

I read the article “The state Senate budget: How 4 key areas would be affected” [News, March 31]. I am worried that the K-12 cuts will have a very negative impact on Washington.

My school district is talking about increasing classroom sizes and decreasing the numbers of teachers so kids aren’t as well-educated. If kids aren’t as well-educated as kids in other countries, we’ll lose our jobs to them.

Also, my school district is talking about getting rid of sports programs, which will give kids more free time to get in trouble or do drugs. Sports keep kids healthy and if they like them, they can play them for the rest of their lives and stay healthy, which reduces medical costs.

Finally, my school district is talking about cutting busing to schools. Without busing, what if a kid got hit and killed by a car? It is unsafe to have all the kids walking to school near cars trying to get to work and school.

This is why we can’t cut money for K-12 education, and if we do, it will have a very negative impact on Washington.

— Andrew Hirschi, Grade 6, Totem Falls Elementary, Snohomish

Education system should be shielded

I guess we should have seen this coming — but we didn’t. Did anyone know that the budget crisis in this state would get this bad?

My parents are both working teachers living in Bremerton. Will they ever get to retire? The budget proposed by the Senate, and made worse by the House’s proposal, will mean that educators and students alike will take most of the brunt of this economic downturn.

These tentative decisions with fuzzy numbers could literally mean that class sizes will be larger, teachers will be fired and our schools will suffer yet again from a funding system that lacks teeth.

An alternative solution is necessary. I am just outraged that the Legislature is dragging its feet and actually considering making these cuts that dramatically affect every community in Washington.

Our education system should be shielded and saved when the economy goes bad because an educated populace is what will pull us out of this recession.

Can you hear me, House Speaker Frank Chopp? I’m in your district, and these cuts go too far!

— David Thompson, Bremerton

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