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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 15, 2009 at 4:00 PM

The budget struggles of government

City: Spending cuts neglect what’s important to citizens

Faced with a tax shortfall caused by widespread financial fraud in the private-sector economy, Mayor Greg Nickels proposes to neglect the earthquake protection of our emergency-services facilities [“City facilities to take tax hit,” NW Tuesday, April 14]. And then, of course, parks and libraries are thrown in for cutting, too.

When a politician is readying the electorate for a big tax hike, it would not do for the voters to think the money was needed for upkeep on the mayor’s limo or for more publicly financed infrastructure around some tycoon campaign-financier’s development project.

I suppose it is just sour grapes to suggest that the wealthy who caused our economic downturn should have to wait for recovery to get their subsidies. Better we crush the firemen in eight of our firehouses when the next earthquake strikes.

Once again, Mayor Nickels shows he knows what is important — to him.

— George and Patricia Robertson, Seattle

State: Avoid tuition increase — tap UW endowment fund

Gov. Chris Gregoire proposes a 30 percent tuition increase over two school years to raise $190 million for the state’s four-year universities [“Gregoire: Raise tuition 14%,” page one, April 8]. Without supportive data, I estimate the tuition increase at the UW will bring in about $100 million.

The economy is in a deep recession — a financial crisis, by some measures. So why increase tuition? The UW is a business. Its business is educating students. How many businesses are increasing prices during this recession? I guess not many.

The tuition increase would dump the entire financial burden on the students (and their families) at a most terrible time in the economy. Is there an alternative solution?

Yes — just tap the endowment fund for the whole $100 million. At its high point, the fund was around $2 billion. Currently, I guess the fund to be around $1.6 billion. The $400 million drop is due to the recession.

Likewise, the additional $100 million drop to offset the proposed tuition increase can be charged off to the recession. The $100 million will fund UW operational expenses. The tuition will remain frozen at its current level.

Harvard has only recently started using its endowment fund for the direct benefit of its students. The UW should do the same. If not now, then when?

I do not know the policy regarding use of the UW endowment fund. However, should the policy be “no direct benefits to students,” then change the policy.

— Bob Conrad, Seattle

Federal: Overspending in an economic depression

I’m studying U.S. history at the high-school level and I’m sorry a periodical like The Times would publish an article like “A Keynes moment” [Business & Technology, April 12].

Saying FDR did not spend much on stimulus is absurd. Roosevelt spent more money and raised taxes more than any president before him. In addition, he started dozens of government programs. All they did was raise taxes and cause inflation.

The only way to say FDR didn’t spend much is if you compare his spending to Obama’s absurd $9 trillion budget, which will not help the economy any more than Roosevelt’s millions did.

Most economists now see that Roosevelt’s spending probably made the Great Depression worse. My fear is that Obama will make the same mistake as Roosevelt: overspending.

— Andrew Kato, Renton

Comments | More in Barack Obama administration, Recession, Seattle City Council, Washington Legislature

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