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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 18, 2009 at 6:00 AM

State budget deficit

Government not exempt from frugality

The current state budget deficit of $9 billion needs to be dealt with quickly and responsibly. Increasing taxes is not the best way to fix this [“Sales tax headed for vote?” NW Friday, April 10].

Not only do tax increases slow economic growth — which is what we need in order to get out of this recession — but we should not be asking for Washington families to dig deeper for more money, which many cannot afford.

As the recession continues, families are cutting their spending and saving more. Government must do the same thing. Evaluate programs that are inefficient and get creative. All families and companies must work this way; no government should be exempt from this practice. We cannot afford all of our programs right now.

The Legislature must stop trying to increase the sales tax by fooling voters with heart-wrenching language. If they’re not careful, enough voters will become annoyed with tax increases and could pass a law similar to California’s Proposition 13 (1978). This law essentially froze the value of property at its purchase price for tax purposes with only a possible 2 percent increase annually, resulting in decreased revenue and increased inequity.

— David Melby, Bellevue

Income tax worth it for literate, healthy community

As the Legislature finalizes our state budget, more than dollars are on the line. Our budget is being balanced on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens: at-risk children, the uninsured and the homeless.

I’m 77 and live on a bare-bones budget. Nevertheless, I would gladly put a line-item in my budget for taxes to help pay for quality schools, healthy citizens and safe homes for the homeless. We all benefit from a literate population that contributes to the welfare of our community. We all benefit when our children are healthy. We all benefit when the poor are housed in safety and dignity.

As one of seven states with no income tax, Washington must depend on sales and property taxes to fund education and human services. Doesn’t it make more sense, fiscally and morally, to have another revenue source, such as an income tax? Doesn’t it make more sense to have those with incomes of over $250,000 a year pay more so that we can create a community that is literate, healthy and safe?

Tax reform should be a priority for this Legislature. If not, we are mortgaging our future and that of our children.

— Helen Donnelly Goehring, Seattle

Cut elected officials’ pay

I find it an interesting and concurrently disturbing when our elected officials are seeking to have us, their constituents, accept tax increases and pay cuts while some in leadership roles are seeking, through the courts, to repeal or somehow void past legislation that we voted on and passed.

The Senate leader opted to sue us, the people she represents, using funds that could have been used elsewhere to help us, not hurt us. She is similarly seeking a way to violate our state constitution by implementing an income tax. Others are seeking to cut pay or compensation for already underpaid public employees, and cut funding for children and other vulnerable citizens.

When compared to the salary and compensation that elected officials receive, it tends to become very offensive. Not once in this session have you heard any state senator or representative propose taking a cut from their $42,000-a-year salary. It somehow seems that for 96 days of work ($437.50 a day), someone could have found a way to get along on, say, $300 a day, considering that they are paid additional compensation for lodging ($70 daily), mileage (55 cents per mile), food ($39 daily), office staff, phone and mailing expenses, and cost of living.

What about a law that cuts compensation for legislators tied into the unemployment rate? And when they are called into overtime for failing to reach agreement, then they are docked for that time.

After all, do you get paid for what you didn’t get done? Nope, me either.

— Terry Filer, Everett

Rethink higher-education priorities

In response to the University of Washington possibly cutting 1,000 jobs [“The state Senate budget: how 4 key areas would be affected,” News, March 31]: enough is enough.

It is time this state became serious about dealing with the recession we are in. As far as I am concerned, no state employee should make more than the governor, who is the ultimate head of all state employees and therefore is the CEO of the state. I will specifically use UW as an example of where cuts should be made.

Is the president of UW really worth $833,000 per year? Cutting his salary to below that of the governor would save the state over $433,000 per year and yet still allow the president to live comfortably, since more than 85 percent of the population makes less than $250,000 per year.

Now, multiply this by all the institutions of higher learning in this state and how much could the state budget be reduced? Where are our leaders in this great time of need? Why is the state stooping over dollars to pick up pennies?

It is time the state stopped looking at the bottom end to cut expenses and started looking at the top end, where the real expenses are depleting this state of its funds. If my suggestions were followed, how many state jobs at the lower end of the pay scale could be saved, where the real day-to-day work is done?

— Charlie Peters, Seattle

Comments | More in Economy, Washington Legislature

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