I recently heard from a nurse who works at the North Central Care Center in Spokane. For the past 15 years, she’s dedicated her career to the center, which specializes in the treatment of the frail elderly, including patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. She tells me of the many personal connections she made among the 101 senior residents that receive care at the center.
“We give the residents here very good care, affording them the respect and dignity they deserve,” she writes. “I cannot even imagine where they would live if not for the caring and educated staff that have also dedicated their careers to this building.”
The North Central Care Center would likely not stay open were the Legislature to pass all-cuts budget to close the unprecedented $8.3 billion shortfall that the global recession has brought to our state. And this nurse illustrates who would be hurt if this were to happen. The 101 elderly residents at the center would no longer receive the essential care that they need, and the 150 people who provide the care at the center would not longer have jobs.
And this is just one example of the impact of the numerous and significant budget cuts lawmakers are being forced to consider.
Everyday I hear from people who are depending on lawmakers not to cut funding to services and jobs that are critical to communities all across the state. And everyday I hear from reporters eager to report on what they see is the big story: when will lawmakers ask voters to raise new revenue to pay for these critical services. The revenue question is always asked in a negative frame – as in, “when are lawmakers going to do exactly what the public hates and decide it’s time to raise new revenue?”
I think this assumes that raising new revenue is the worst thing that can happen in the 2009 session. But hearing from the nurse from North Central Care Center in Spokane and others makes it clear to me that there are far worse things that can happen than that.
There are plenty of big stories there – when will they be told?