Eagle Forum Agenda | April - May 2003

Contents:

Legislature Looks to Gambling and Taxes to Fill Budget Gap

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Passes Overwhelming

Estrada Watch

Quotes of the Month

Female P.O.W. Among the Five Exhibited on Al Jazeera Television

Reality Check

How to be an Effective Citizen Lobbyist in 3 Easy Steps

Where is the Money?


Legislature Looks to Gambling and Taxes to Fill Budget Gap

Reality Bites

Our state government received terrible news last week when state economists forecast a bigger revenue shortfall than expected. A weak state economy, soaring gas prices, Boeing layoffs and the effects of the Iraq war are negatively impacting the tax forecast as people are not spending as much on taxable items. Washington State is now facing a $2.6 billion deficit, the biggest shortfall in state history.
Democrats immediately began to make it clear the only way out of this mess would be to raise taxes. This of course, is the worst possible jolt to a struggling economy. But lawmakers, none-the-less, are preparing a variety of tax and fee increases to help the state budget.

Expanded Gambling
A number of Washington State legislators from both political parties have laid their cards on the table, so to speak, by favoring the expansion of gambling as a means of solving our state's budget problems. This is the poorest of choices.
As we see in the 5 states with full legalized gambling, this will not bring financial prosperity to Washington State because the consequences down the road far outweigh any benefits of gambling. It might provide a quick, temporary infusion of money but history tells us that states cannot gamble themselves rich.
Proving that projections of gambling revenue will not be what legislators are hoping for, support for the state lottery is sagging, adding a loss of $55 million from earlier projections.
Washington State legislators should reject the pie-in-the-sky promises of easy economic wealth and instead face our state budget crisis with discipline and maturity. We cannot afford to gamble away the future of our children, families and communities.

Gas Tax Increase
House Democrats have proposed a 3-cent-a-gallon increase in the gas tax with a large share of the money going to transit and other non-road projects. Rep. Doug Ericksen (R-42nd district), ranking minority member of the Transportation Committee, said of the Democrat gas tax plan, "I think they are transit heavy and highway light." Also missing in the Democrat plan are the efficiencies and accountability measures that Republicans pushed for.
Not to be outdone, the Republican controlled State Senate has proposed a 5 cent-a-gallon gas tax increase. Their package has a greater focus on areas outside King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
This time around the gas tax increase will not be put to a public vote because legislators consider the situation an emergency.

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Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Passes Overwhelming
Democrats Demonstrate Abortion Extremism

On March 13 the U.S. Senate voted to ban partial-birth abortion by a 64 to 33 vote. This bill is the first federal restriction on abortion since Roe v. Wade in 1973. It is shocking that 33 senators (including 3 liberal Republicans) voted for a grisly procedure that is indistinguishable from infanticide and allows the killing of a baby up to the very moment of birth.
Make no mistake, this vote would not have happened if the Democrats were still in control of the Senate and indeed, President Bill Clinton vetoed this legislation twice during his two terms in office.
The House of Representatives is expected to pass a similar bill as early as this month and with a pro-life president in the White House this bill should become law before Easter.
Washington State Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, siding with abortion extremists, both voted to preserve partial-birth abortion.
The Democrats today have become the party of abortion-on-demand, at any time, at any stage of pregnancy, for any reason or no reason. This places the party on the extreme fringe of public opinion, as the overwhelming majority of Americans support a wide range of limits on abortion.
The House also passed the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003.

VOTING YES: Dunn, Nethercutt, Hastings, Larsen
VOTING NO: Baird, Dicks, Inslee, Smith, McDermott

Vote to reaffirm "In God we Trust" in the Pledge of Allegiance.
VOTING YES: Baird, Dicks, Dunn, Hastings, Inslee, Larsen, Nethercutt, Smith.
VOTING NO: McDermott

 

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Estrada Watch
Senate Democrats Still Obstructing Judicial Nominations
The Senate has voted 3 times to invoke cloture and end the filibuster of a vote on Miguel Estrada for the D.C. Court of Appeals. Democrats are changing the rules of confirmation and upending the Constitution by stripping the President of his power to appoint qualified judges and the Senate is being filibustered for the first time ever over an Appeals Court nominee!
Call Senators Murray at (202) 224-2521 and Cantwell at ((202) 224-3441. Ask them to vote to end the Democrat obstruction of a vote on Miguel Estrada for the D.C. Court of Appeals. Estrada has won 10 of the 15 cases he's argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. He received the highest rating possible from the American Bar Association, is fair-minded, brilliant and deserves confirmation.
Action to fill other vacancies continues, as does Democrat obstructionism.

Current vacancies = 54
Judicial candidates before the Senate = 38
Judicial emergencies = 26
Nominations to emergency vacant positions = 18

Your Help is Needed!

 

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Quotes of the Month

"Senator Daschle has spent more time criticizing the leadership of President Bush than he has spent criticizing the tyranny of Saddam Hussein." -Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert (R-ILL), 3/18/03.

When asked this question by a Human Events Reporter: "If you could eliminate any one federal program, what would it be?" Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) responded, "The CIA would be my choice." Apparently he has forgotten the recent crucial role of the CIA in capturing Al Qaida terrorists.

Speaking of terrorists, state Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, voiced excessive frustration with Initiative sponsor Tim Eyman's warning that he would pursue a "voter veto" of any tax or fee increases approved in Olympia. She responded, "Who made him God? All he has to do is open his mouth. He's issuing threats to us, like those terrorists."

 

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Female P.O.W. Among the Five Exhibited on Al Jazeera Television
Shoshana Johnson, 30, of El Paso, TX, the mother of a two-year-old daughter, was one of five members of a U.S. Army maintenance unit ambushed and captured after their convoy strayed off course near the city of Nasiriyah in Iraq on March 23. The dazed prisoners were filmed by the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network being questioned by Iraqis, as were the bodies of at least four other soldiers killed in the firefight, some of whom appeared to have been shot in the head. The film was shown repeatedly on Iraqi television, and picked up by networks in various other countries, causing wide spread condemnation for the violation of international agreements on the treatment of prisoners. Shoshana is the daughter of retired Army veteran Claude Johnson who fought in Desert Storm, and is the niece of retired Air Force Major Margaret Thome-Henderson. However, her family never expected her to see combat, much less become a prisoner of war. She was a chef, assigned to prepare meals for the company. Her family learned about her capture from a report on Telemundo. The mother of another prisoner learned the news by seeing his picture on television in Mexico.
In a March 24 press release, Eagle Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness, expressed outrage and concern for the soldiers on the 507th Army Maintenance Battalion who were captured, and added, "When I heard the disturbing news, I feared right away that at least one of those soldiers would be a woman serving her country in uniform. The brutal killings that have already taken place indicate that we are dealing with a ruthless regime that is unlikely to comply with the Geneva Convention requiring humane treatment for prisoners of war."
She recalled the capture of Army Col. Rhonda Cornum, the flight surgeon captured during the
1991-92 Persian Gulf War, who was subjected to sexual indecencies within hours of her capture.
A strong advocate for women in combat, Cornum was released eight days later, but said nothing
in public about the sexual assault for more than a year.

Instead of tightening the rules to protect women from such risks, in 1994 then Secretary of
Defense Les Aspin eliminated the phrase "inherent risk of capture" from the definition of "direct
combat," in order to open up more "career opportunities" for women serving in units previously
defined as close combat. He also eliminated the Defense Department's "Risk Rule," a regulation
intended to exempt women in non-combat positions from being assigned close to front lines.

El Paso Times (3-25-03) and Washington Times (3-24-03).

 

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Reality Check
The media bias in the coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom has been truly shocking. Despite over- whelming public support for the war to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein's murderous clutches and remove the threat of his weapons of mass destruction, the elite media coverage has been resoundingly negative. Within a week the American and British forces advanced to within 50 miles of Baghdad with breathtaking speed and relatively few allied casualties. Coalition forces control more than half the country, have secured the oil fields, opened the ports of southeast Iraq, limited civilian losses, and begun to deliver humanitarian aid to the beleaguered country. But judging by the war coverage in The New York Times, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and other elite media outlets, the war has been a huge disaster. Despite the drumbeat of slanted coverage, popular support for President Bush and our troops remains strong. Sensible Americans, it seems, have declined to be prejudiced by the anti-war media bias. Here's the reality: Hussein's days are numbered. It is not a question of if his dictatorship will end, it is only a question of when.

Family Research Council, 3/28/03

 

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How to be an Effective Citizen Lobbyist in 3 Easy Steps
  1. When you hear of an issue that you care about (see gambling insert) immediately call or email the relevant elected official and politely tell them of your support or opposition. It is useful to mention at least one reason why you oppose or support the issue. When calling Washington, D.C. ask for the aid who handles this particular issue. Don't be intimidated or nervous, the person who takes your message will not argue with you and should be polite and gracious if you are.
  2. Ask for a response from the elected official and make sure they take down your address and other information.
  3. It is best to call or email your message. Keep phone numbers of elected officials close to your phone and email addresses close to your computer so you can communicate at a moment's notice. Feel free to call and e-mail your message. The state legislature has a toll free hotline that is very user friendly. Remember, they are your public servants and owe you the courtesy of listening to your opinion. Olympia Hotline: 1-800-562-6000

 

 

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Where is the Money?
K-12: Washington spends $9,594 per student

A new report by the National Education Association (NEA) reveals that in 2002, education spending in Washington increased by $1,168 per student (over 2001 levels) to a total of $9,594 per student.
These starling numbers beg the question: Where is the money? Recognizing that school performance is not what it should be, can the problems truly be blamed on a lack of money, or do they stem from the way that money is being spent?

Education Spending
The two major expenditure increases were:
-General expenditures: $437 increase per student.
-Capital (building) expenditures: $701 increase per student.
Expenditures per pupil in Washington are 10.1 percent higher that the national average.

Teacher Salaries
According to the NEA, only 23.2 percent of total 2001-02 education expenditures were used for teacher salaries, which average $43,483 in Washington. Factoring in total compensation (salary, benefits, supplemental contracts, etc.), which averages nearly $60,000 for Washington teachers, brings teacher compensation to 32 percent of total expenditures. This ranks Washington among the lowest in the nation for teacher pay as percentage of expenditures.

Important Questions

Legislators have some important questions to ask this session as they consider requests for increased funding and look for ways to improve the K-12 education system:

Are we getting $9,594 worth of value for each student in our public schools? Is Washington's K-12 system really facing a shortage of money, or does the problem stem from the way current dollars are being spent?

If Washington spends 10.1 percent more than the national average for education, but only 32 percent of that amount is spent on teachers, where is the rest of the money?

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