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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 9, 2015 at 4:27 PM

Readers’ priorities: What should the Legislature focus on?

Kelly Shea / The Seattle Times

Kelly Shea / The Seattle Times

Editor’s note: Last Sunday, The Times Opinion page asked readers what the Legislature’s priority should be this session. Here are selected responses:

The environment

In laying out its priorities for the Legislature in 2015, The Seattle Times editorial board hit on an agenda that is absolutely important. But it overlooked a crucial item: preserving natural infrastructure.

We need clean water to drink, a resilient Puget Sound, vibrant forests and clean air to breathe. These are foundational to all other issues. A healthy environment underpins human mental and physical health and our region’s livelihoods.

Caring for Washington’s environment is caring for the bedrock of our state. Living in the midst of natural beauty, we sometimes take for granted the incredible natural resources that are the foundation for our state’s economy and quality of life.

Mary Ruckelshaus, Seattle

Fund public education

As the state constitution declares, the state’s first priority is to amply fund public education. The constitution is very clear on the matter. This has little to do with the tussle between the state Supreme Court and Legislature. Rather, the McCleary decision merely affirmed what the constitution already calls for.

Mike Olson, Stanwood

Tax breaks

The Boeing tax breaks should be corrected so they protect and expand jobs here in Washington state. Tax breaks — to Boeing or any company — should be given to companies that expand employment in our state. These jobs also need to pay good, family wages.

With all the needs for money this year, including education and transportation, Washington cannot afford to give tax breaks to companies that turn around and ship jobs out of state.

Bill Dugovich, Kent

Address foreclosure

Close the loopholes in the Deed of Trust Act that allow the bankers to continue the theft of Washington homeowners’ properties. Foreclosures are robbing the middle-class wealth and ruining the economy.

Karen Pooley, Seattle

Dangers to rail transport

Rail transportation is the priority. Oil trains are moving through downtown Seattle and up through Everett along very unsafe tracks. The high cliffs fail and cause a mudslide about once a month during the rainy season. One of these days, they are going to push either an oil train or a passenger train into the sound. It is just a matter of when. Stop the insanity before we have a tragedy.

Arthur Valla, Kenmore

Fix the tax structure

The Washington Legislature struggles with one of the most regressive tax structures in the nation. This hampers positive decision-making by legislators on matters critical to our people, such as education, transportation and social services. The federal government is moving more programs to the states. Washington is being squeezed beyond hope with its current tax system, even in a booming economy. Fairer tax laws are needed. U.S. tax structure is based on a system of consensus and voluntary participation, except for wage and salary earners whose employers withhold taxes from their earnings. Payers need to know tax systems are fair to support them.

Margaret Birdsall, Seattle

Restore the sea

A glaring omission from The Seattle Times list of 2015 legislative priorities is the need for increased funding for protection and restoration of the Salish Sea. Salmon runs are depleted, orcas are dying, highway runoff pollutes massively, and Victoria, B.C., is defiantly pouring raw sewage into the Juan de Fuca Strait. We cannot separate our economy, much less our ecology, from the health of these magical waters. Delaying their restoration endangers not only the Salish Sea itself but also all we claim to value about our shared environment.

Michael Shurgot, Seattle

Fix party politics

The destruction of party politics is the most pressing issue facing the Legislature. There is too much party and not enough common-sense politics.

For the good of all, we need moderation in ideology. This state is divided into an agricultural society and an urban society. However, both sides need each other without political diversion. The Puget Sound has the biggest population to serve, but it needs the eastside of the state to provide the nurturing. Meanwhile, the eastside needs the consumer to provide them a monetary livelihood. None of this is solved by party division.

Jim Morris, Renton

Comments | More in Politics | Topics: education, environment, Legislature

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