I attended the two Town Meetings recently held in Covington and Auburn, and the more I hear, the more I feel angry over the shortsightedness and skewed priorities that are affecting us now.  These town meetings were pretty predictable; lots of handwringing over what to cut next and the inevitable conclusion that no matter what else is cut, there won’t be enough money to save basic services, especially education and social services for the needy.  That is so predictable.  They have been cutting and cutting for at least a decade now, and I can’t believe that they still are able to find anything to cut.  Yet they do.  This tells me they have either been disingenuous or inefficient (probably both) in the cutting that has gone on before, and I really don’t expect them to be any different now.  With regard to education, they are all aware that the NEWS lawsuit reiterated and redefined education as being the “paramount duty” of the state, but are unable to do whatever it takes to make it so.  Nothing, that is, except apologize and say they just can’t find any more money.  The Constitution and the court didn’t say “paramount when you can afford it,” it said paramount.  To me, the problem is not of what to cut; I believe they’ve probably pretty much cut everything they are willing to cut; it is a problem of revenue.  Revenue is a funny word for politicians; something they may use, as long as it isn’t in the form of that awful word: “TAXES.”  I attended a town meeting with Margarita Prentice and other Renton politicians a couple of years ago and a questioner tried to get her to talk about taxes and she wouldn’t do it.  All the participants in these recent town meetings wouldn’t do it either.  I’m not sure which one said it (present were Sullivan, Hargrove and Fein), but he believed the voters had soundly rejected the income tax measure in the last election and that was good enough for him.  If memory serves, the measure did lose, but it was poorly funded, was outspent by a huge amount of out-of-state money, and was presented in an off-year election that had a poor turnout due to (mostly) young voter apathy and anger.  Not what I would call a mandate, but the fact that it was there at all should tell our reps that we need to talk revenue.  If saying the word “taxes” is committing political suicide (something I am not against) then find another word.  Fix the lottery like it was promised when it was first instituted and make the money go to education.  Take all the money that is currently paying off Safeco and divert it to education.  Take gas taxes; I don’t care.  Think outside the very small box that constitutes discussion over revenue and figure out what CAN be done.  I’m tired of whiners saying, “I can’t.”


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