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Budget Pain? Depends on Who Is Injured

April 21, 2002

Re "Budget Remedies Could Hurt O.C.," April 14:

Steven B. Frates makes some solid points on the effects of the state's budget shortfall on Orange County, but it is unclear to me if he is seeking culpability in our state's governing bodies, seeking real solutions or is a tax cut advocate setting the stage for another fiscal assault on public services.

Now, let's be very clear. Collecting taxes and distributing the revenue are two of the most vexing functions of government. It requires extraordinary attention to detail in planning for the future of our state. With countless civic groups, departments and agencies vying for a piece of the action, spending the revenue also means turning a deaf ear to well-heeled lobbyists flooding the statehouse with money to support their causes.

That brings up Frates' observation on the recent pay increase for prison guards, a surprise that raised more than a few eyebrows around the state.

I do know with absolute certainty that the salaries for teachers, firefighters and cops, to name a few groups of selfless public servants, have been hammered for decades, in large measure by tax cuts. Also, too many schools, hospitals and trauma centers are crumbling or closing down from the fallout of tax-cut mania.

How deeply the budget shortfall tests Orange County's threshold of pain will depend on many factors. More than likely, it will continue to be a case of whose ox is being gored.

Dave Ohman

Irvine

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Frates' commentary on Orange County's budget problems aptly reveals a clear example of the do-nothing ways of most of the county's elected representatives. Because of our legislators' benign neglect, our schools, police and fire protection and infrastructure have suffered. And now with recent redistricting, the impotency will spread to Los Angeles County. Look out, Long Beach. Your pocket is about to be picked.

David M. Carlberg

Huntington Beach

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