Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for March 18

Lawmakers must act swiftly

Let’s hope that Washington state legislators can make decisions that fix the economic problems in our state.

I’ve observed over 100 hours of legislative committee meetings and floor debates during this 2010 session. I’ve heard citizens of this state plead for stronger laws related to criminals, police survivor benefits, gang prevention, early learning programs, improved K-12 education, medical coverage benefits and tax breaks, to name a few.

These tough economic times call for legislators able to make decisions that will best serve our citizens, while keeping the fiscal bottom line and the gross deficit repair at the forefront.

The solution is not the drastic cut to social service programs as originally proposed by the governor in her 2010 no-cuts budget proposal. One program promised a savings of $160.6 million, but would also leave 64,000 Washingtonians without basic health coverage. Can we afford to contribute to the national health care crisis by neglecting the health care needs of citizens in our own neighborhoods?

We cannot afford the expense of $20,000 a day for a special session. I see that expense as dipping into funds that could provide jobs and services to citizens of our state. I urge our state legislators to act thoughtfully and swiftly.


Lawmakers override the electorate

It is my view that the voting records of all our elected officials be made known to the public. It is our right because we put these people in office on the pretense they would represent us. Is that not what they all say in the voter’s pamphlet?

Repeal of Initiative 960 is a slap in the face. How can that few people in the Legislature override thousands of voters?

And our governor backed them up by saying, “It would serve no purpose.”

Well, you can bet it serves a very big purpose. It serves to let the public know whom we can trust, and who needs to start putting in job applications.


L&I director bankrupting state

State government mentality is bankrupting the state and state employee benefits.

When the state auditor’s office conducted its annual audit of the Department of Labor & Industries’ workers’ compensation program last fall, L&I Director Judy Schurke offered some interesting insight.

In an e-mail to the auditor’s office, she stated, “One of the unique benefits of the Washington State Fund is that it can continue to make good on its benefit obligations when projected liabilities exceed its projected assets when private insurers would not be able to do so.”

That’s exactly right. Private companies are held accountable by their bottom line. On the other hand, treating the taxpayer-funded state coffers as a bottomless pit is exactly what put the state’s economy in the pits.

For her invaluable insight into some nonexistent theory of economics, we the taxpayers pay Schurke $139,320.


Today's political system is broken

I arrived in Washington seven years ago solidly liberal. I had never opposed a tax increase.

Since arriving, I have seen the train wreck that is Washington state government, where special interests control, and government efficiency and ethical behavior are afterthoughts.

For example, civil lawsuits in Washington have become hopelessly complicated because the predominate interest of Washington legislators is serving special interests and providing work for attorneys. Similar suits in Oregon are settled quickly and easily with minimal attorney involvement.

In Washington, it appears that the only distinction between the two dominant political parties is that one may be slightly less corrupt than the other. I will be voting for Green Party candidates in the future, and I would suggest that conservatives consider Libertarian candidates. We have reached rock bottom. The present system is simply not working.


Not off the House floor for hours

I am disappointed that this paper chose to restate untrue allegations to single out my voting record in the editorial “Voting for others in the House is unacceptable. The source this paper quoted is not exactly a nonpartisan source — until recently Rep. Deb Wallace was my opponent in the 3rd Congressional District election.

I don’t disagree with the editorial’s call for procedural reform. I would like House leadership to better organize vote timing so that the procedure of voting for others can be changed, and legislators won’t have to miss any votes at all.

What I take issue with is the restated claim by Rep. Wallace that I have been away from the House floor “for hours at a time” during votes this year. That is false. I have one of the best voting attendance records in Olympia. In three years, I’ve missed only 10 out of 1,863 possible floor votes, and all were before this year.

When I am not on the floor, it is typically because I am honoring a constituent’s request for a meeting. As an assistant floor manager, I must also move around the floor to work with legislators about to speak, or attend leadership meetings in the wings. Involvement in the legislative process does not equal hours away from the floor during votes.

I stand behind my voting record, available at washingtonvotes.org, and I stand behind my hard work and service to the people of my legislative district.

REP. JAIME HERRERA, 18th Legislative District