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StarBulletin.com

We all suffer when important public services are cut


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POSTED: Thursday, September 10, 2009

Between the governor's refusal to consider tax hikes or alternative sources of revenue, the Legislature's hesitancy to take significant action that might be politically unpopular, and the unions' willingness to rely on the lengthy process of arbitration rather than accepting that some cuts are inevitable, the state is on a penny-wise, pound-foolish path to dealing with our present fiscal crisis.

If we cut out agricultural inspection positions as the governor proposes, both agriculture and the environment will suffer, and our economy will take an even greater hit than it already has.

If we fail to provide matching funds to qualify for federal stimulus grants, the time we spend in a stagnant economy is needlessly drawn out. If we discontinue vitally needed medical services, we deserve the scorn of all humanity. Bad economic times increase the demand for public services. If we cut services such as schools and libraries, our already strained population also suffers.

Studies demonstrate that having professionally certified school librarians improves schools' overall test scores significantly, yet school librarians are being taken from their libraries and put into classrooms due to lack of funds.

People are using public libraries more than ever, especially for their job searches, yet public libraries are so short-staffed that we may be forced to reduce hours.

As a librarian, I am myself a state worker. Some people blame the state work force for our fiscal problems. I, on the other hand, passionately believe that the purpose of government is to provide services that benefit society as a whole. These services cost money.

Although I support the current Friends of the Library fundraising drive, and I have already contributed, this is only a short-term solution. As a taxpayer, I am prepared to pay higher taxes to prevent essential services from being slashed, even when I am faced with likely loss of salary, possible deployment to understaffed job sites or layoffs.

I hope others in our state, who appreciate the services libraries provide, are willing to do so as well.

I encourage readers to speak up in support of the fact that important services need to be paid for—and that we all suffer when they are cut.

 

Victoria G. Dworkin lives in Kailua and works as a librarian.