Late last month, Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed a new budget — full of cuts. Since then, many people have been critical, calling these cuts overly harsh. But the fact of the matter is that on Nov. 2, we, as voters, told legislators that we don’t want any more taxes. So extreme budget cuts are, unfortunately, necessary. We empathize with Gregoire.
However, consolidating the Human Rights Commission, the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise, and the commissions on African American affairs, Hispanic affairs, and Asian Pacific American affairs (CAPAA) into one Office of Civil Rights is worrisome.
It’s likely that consolidating so many commissions will result in the needs of many ethnic and racial communities being overlooked.
In our front page story, former CAPAA commissioner Ron Chow made the point that CAPAA’s budget is about $200,000 a year, which is a relatively tiny drop in the overall state deficit of $4.6 billion. Chow also said that he thinks there are certain areas that could stand to be cut, but no one is talking about them.
Similarly, in a Dec. 2 editorial, The Seattle Times stated that it thinks the proposed 3 percent increase in state employee’s share of health insurance is too small. It also said, “She negotiated 3-percent pay cuts, which expire at the end of the biennium and do not affect pension-benefit calculations. We would have aimed for more concessions …”
We don’t dispute the fact that these offices could benefit from being streamlined, but consolidating them into one office may dampen the voices of too many. According to the Census Bureau’s 2009 data, Asians and Pacific Islanders (APIs) are the third largest ethnic/racial group, comprising 7.5 percent of the population. Whites (83.8 percent) and Hispanics/Latinos (10.3 percent) are first and second.
However, due to pervading model minority stereotypes, APIs are often thought of as a group that doesn’t need as much assistance as other racial/ethnic groups.
Also, CAPAA has been in existence, in some form, since 1972. If we get rid of it during hard times, who’s to say that it will come back when the economy is better? Losing our voice in government now can have ramifications that affect us for many years.
So what can you do? How can you voice your thoughts?
You can visit www.governor.wa.gov/contact and send the governor’s office an e-message. You can write to the Office of the Governor at P.O. Box 40002, Olympia, WA 98504-0002. You can even contact the office at 360-902-4111.
Talk or write to your local legislator. Find your local legislator by visiting apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder.
Lastly, write to your local media. Northwest Asian Weekly is very open to publishing commentaries or letters to the editor about this topic. Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. ♦