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Readers write

While we are all glad to see the much-needed snow from the latest storm, North Tahoe Fire District would like to ask you to adopt a fire hydrant in your neighborhood.With over 800 fire hydrants in our North and West Shore communities, it is very time consuming getting all the hydrants cleared after a major storm. Please help us this winter and keep the fire hydrants near your house clear of snow. Additionally, please dont blow or plow snow in front of fire hydrants. This causes firefighters costly delays in accessing the hydrant in an emergency. During a fire, every second counts!Dave RubenBattalion Chief-Fire MarshalNorth Tahoe Fire District

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered his annual State of the State Address to the California State Legislature Monday where he outlined his proposed budget reforms; his top priority for the upcoming year.The Budget Stabilization Act would create a revenue stabilization fund that would deposit excess revenue above the long-term budget average into an account. The money would only be available to the State when revenues dropped below that average, and only enough would be available to make up the difference.The Act would also grant the Legislature mid-year spending reduction authority within an existing budget. This means when the Department of Finance projects an upcoming decline in revenue, the State can respond by reducing spending. If the Legislature doesnt specify sufficient reductions, the governor will be able to waive state law to balance the budget.To close the $14 billion deficit, the Governor proposed reigning in spending this year by announcing a 10 percent across-the-board spending reduction for next year.I commended the Governor for his efforts to make structural reforms to the budgeting process. But the State also needs to revise formulaic spending requirements, revenue sources, and savings priorities to truly get the budget under control.Last year we had a surplus of $3.4 billion, the largest in state history. This is more or equal to the entire annual budget of 11 states in this country. Yet only a few months later we find ourselves with a $14 billion deficit. This goes shows that not only do we need to revise rigid categorical spending requirements, we also need to review revenue sources we rely on as a state and the level of reserve the State maintains. Many of the problems associated with the budget reflect a Legislature unable to thoroughly review the budget and the States priorities while simultaneously analyzing nearly 3,000 bills introduced annually. Thats why I reintroduced my bill to create a biennial budget, so we can give the budget proper amount of time and review it deserves. I sincerely hope that the Legislature will give my bill serious consideration this year.Rick Keene District 3 State Assemblyman


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