Re "Todd Spitzer's Red Menace," editorial, Sept. 29: The Times sees some irony in the fact that I believe it is unnecessary to raise state taxes and yet am asking the Department of Food and Agriculture to halt efforts to shut down the Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. State funding has provided for the RIFA program in five Southern California counties (Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego). That is why 27 legislators from these affected areas joined me in formally requesting continuation of its funding.
I do not need to support new taxes to fight for what is fair and reasonable for our region. The state failed to protect its borders by allowing this destructive pest to be imported from other states. We deserve now for the state to protect us. The reality is that Orange County, in particular, pays over $2.25 billion in property taxes and receives back only $136 million. That's six cents on the dollar, compared with the statewide average for counties of 18 1/2 cents. The state budget deficit was never about revenue. It is about overspending for nonessential government services. The citizens of Orange County and the region impacted by RIFA have paid many times over for this program. It's about time the state focused on its core responsibilities of public safety.