Budget balanced on backs of employees
Ladies and gentlemen of the former great state of Washington. We voted for Christine Gregoire and what we got was a Dino Rossi wannabe.
So all of you affected by the all-cuts budget need to remember these cuts the next time you visit the polls.
The governor cares not for your needs, your children’s needs, your elderly parents or those in need of medical assistance.
She balanced the budget on the backs of her employees and conceded to big business.
Governor, forget about a third term – it’s not in the cards.
Teachers union flexed muscle in Legislature
The Thomas Friedman headline in a recent Olympian said “Let’s hope new generation of teachers can get us on track.” He reported test results of high schools students in science and mathematics rank America near the bottom when compared to other nations in the world.
So what did our Legislature and new state superintendent of schools do to reduce the high number of failures?
No, they did not insist on improved instruction so more would pass the test.
Instead, they did what the teachers’ union wanted – they abolished the test.
There were previous efforts to abolish the tests, but Gov. Chris Gregoire and the previous state superintendent saw the need for testing, and insisted they be kept.
The 2008 elections changed that: Our state teachers union (Washington Education Association) was a major force in electing a new state superintendent of schools who opposed testing, and helped elect more legislators committed to their abolishment.
Friedman’s expecting teachers to solve the problem may be looking in the wrong place. Individually, many are exceptionally good, but on policy issues, the union is their voice.
Only when parents and community leaders insist on tests that truly measure achievement in the necessary skills will our children be as well prepared as previous generations.
And if they are not, as Friedman points out, our nation will be a weakened competitor in the world economy.
Thurston County is wasting tax dollars
Thurston County spends over $1,000 more per mile than neighboring counties for roadside vegetation management. Due to outdated policies restricting herbicide use, the county wastes over $1 million annually without benefiting safety or environmental protection.
The road department’s old-fashioned method of using labor to clean around guardrails is inefficient and expensive. It is also harmful to the environment.
Soil, organic material, and debris is scraped from the shoulder, hauled away and disposed of at tremendous expense. The disturbed soil is highly erodible causing sediment to run into salmon streams destroying habitat. Birds and small animals are unnecessarily killed. Drainage problems can result, especially on roads with no shoulders.
Water accumulation on the edge of the roadbed is a concern for safety and increases costs when major road repairs are required.
An updated integrated vegetation management plan that includes reduced risk herbicides approved for habitat restoration would save the county money to fund essential programs such as police, public safety services and more.
Thurston County currently uses herbicides to control noxious weeds as required by state law. These same herbicides can be part of an effective and efficient integrated vegetation management plan.
Thurston County needs to stop cutting necessary programs while maintaining outdated and expensive policy.
Washington Friends of Farms & Forests
Separate our needs from our wants
I wonder what would happen if ...
• School boards cut sports and extracurricular activities instead of teachers and books? “Planned obsolescence” disappeared?
• The U.S. Postal Service refused to deliver junk mail?
• Libraries eliminated or severely cut new books and magazine budgets, but kept the staff necessary to remain open when needed most?
• Video stores and television stations such as PBS, Discovery and Nova became popular again?
• Families ate dinner together and neighbors talked to each other – maybe even shared a social activity?
• Technical colleges and apprenticeships became popular career paths again?
• Affordable leisure-time activities regained popularity, such as picnics, backyard games, card and other games, puzzles, and Sunday drives?
• Clothing and accessories were available without brand names plastered all over them?
These are only a few ideas that could improve our economy; admittedly simplified.
We need to make wiser choices at every level – individual, family, county, city, state and federal.
We need to get out of debt, and to live within our means.
We need to know the difference between what we need and what we want.
We need to return to taking care of each other and reduce the cost of government social services.
We need to recapture the sound morals and responsibility of our forefathers.
We need to admit that we really CANNOT have it all. It’s not too late to start making better decisions — but we need to begin NOW.