Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Solving the state budget shortfall
Posted by Letters editor
Budget is a moral document
The state budget being debated in Olympia is a moral document. [“Legislature takes its time on budget while Gregoire stews,” NWSaturday, Dec 3.]
We are all aware that the fiscal crisis for our state is caused by recession and severe shortfall in income. That is something that every resident of our state understands; we personally face the same challenge. To those who want a cuts-only budget I have to ask, is that the kind of community you really want?
Severe funding reductions in public safety (police and fire service), health care for our poorest, services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, court and probation supervision and so many other services we need for our communities to be safe will be severely reduced.
Just one of many examples of this crisis: I serve on the Board of King County Sexual Assault Resource Center. Sixty-three percent of the victims of sexual assault and abuse we help are under the age 18. For every person we serve, we now have to turn away three because of current lack of funding. Budget cuts will only increase the number who cannot be served.
Criminal sexual assault cases in King County now take 18 to 24 months to be resolved (up from previously 12 to 18 months). Victims receive fewer services and our community is less safe.
I have heard it said that the religious community ought to fill some of the deficit gap. Well, we already are — and in most communities, big time! There are about 5,000 churches in our state and each church would have to come up with $75,000 just to make up the proposed cuts to our welfare program alone.
Clearly, even in these tough financial times we need to come up with ways to increase revenue. I believe our elected leaders at every level of government can figure this out. Cost saving, exemption reform, consolidation, temporary sales tax increase and eventual tax reform all can be on the negotiating table.
Our state budget is a moral document. The human needs in our communities require continued and adequate funding. The time to speak out is now. The time to stand up is now. Please join me!
— Rev. Marvin Eckfeldt, Kent
Institute a motor vehicle excise tax
As the Legislature struggles to come up with revenue to solve the debt crisis, I emailed several legislators a suggestion I thought would go a long way toward not only plugging the revenue gap this year, but provide some stable financing in the years to come: reinstituting a motor vehicle excise tax.
The passage of Initiative 695 was subsequently struck down by the state Supreme Court. So the Legislature rushed to appease the voters by passing a $30, one-size-fits-all licensing fee. It makes no sense to me that 2012 Lexus owners pay the same fees as I pay for my 14-year-old Toyota Camry.
No one likes taxes, so what’s the difference between raising the sales tax and increasing revenue with an MVET? One huge difference is between having a progressive tax such as the MVET and a highly regressive sales tax.
— Warren Jackson, Seattle
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