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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words letters@seattletimes.com.

March 22, 2011 at 4:00 PM

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State's budget deficit reaches $5 billion

Posted by Letters editor

Public workers must share the cuts

Now let me see if I have the correct liberal spin on the letters to the editor responding to your March 18 editorial [“Growing deficit requires more union concessions,” Opinion, March 18]. The letter writers say it is an attack on the middle class if the state-worker unions have to give up benefits, freeze wages or, heaven forbid, pay their fair share of medical benefits just like any other private-sector worker has had to do over the past few years.

But yet they feel entitled to a raise, a higher pension and no increase in the cost of their benefits. The last time I looked I was a middle-class worker and my wage has been frozen for the past four years. My company does not provide a pension and the cost I pay for my medical benefits has gone up. Also, just like everyone else in the state, my cost of living has gone up quite dramatically (can you say taxes?).

The standard talking point of the Democrat-controlled union officials and the members they lead is to say the Republicans are attacking them and want to lower their standard of living. Please stop and think for a minute — in order for them to get their raise, increase their pensions and benefits, where is the money going to come from? Oh, of course — raise taxes!

So in order to give the state workers what they want my standard of living will once again be lowered by more taxes. Who is attacking the middle class? If you ask me, it is the largest group of union workers in this state and no one else.

— Jim Grieger, Redmond

We must not hurt the most vulnerable

In reaction to the new dire state revenue forecast, Gov. Chris Gregoire stated that anyone looking for an exemption to cuts will now know it’s not possible, and “everybody will sacrifice” [“State’s budget shortfall tops $5 billion in latest forecast,” page one, March 18]. But most of the cuts proposed for health care directly hurt the most vulnerable in the state.

Low-income people will once again be forced to sacrifice the most, though they are the ones who can least afford it. Because of this economic crisis, people who are struggling need programs like Disability Lifeline and Basic Health more than ever. It’s very clear what sacrifices are expected of low-income working individuals and people with disabilities. I see it every day in my medical practice at Neighborcare Health’s Rainier Beach Medical & Dental Clinic.

But why is it that we have not asked highly profitable corporations to consider giving up some of their tax breaks? Would such a sacrifice cost them their livelihoods or their lives, as cutting Disability Lifeline and Basic Health could mean for some? There’s no question we’re still in a bad recession, but the budget shouldn’t inflict even more pain to those already suffering the most.

— Marcus Rempel, M.D., Seattle

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