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The Legislature's administrative budget could make a statement

We can state with some certainty that the budget proposal from the Legislative Administration Committee will be dead on arrival in the 2003 Legislature. At least, it should be.

The wish list ' and wishful it is ' asks for &

36;32 million for the 2003-'05 biennium, a 60 percent increase over the current budget. Included in the request is &

36;824,000 to buy every legislator a networked laptop computer and &

36;831,000 to upgrade audio and video taping of legislative meetings.

It goes without saying that the request won't be approved as written ' not when the state faces a shortfall of about &

36;1 billion just to maintain current services. It is also only fair to note that this budget request was prepared last spring, before three of the record five special sessions held to deal with declining tax revenue.

But this gilded proposal offers lawmakers a golden opportunity to show voters just how serious they are about controlling state spending.

Laptops? Gee, that would be nice, but in the current budget climate it's out of the question.

Unfortunately, that's not what Joint Ways and Means co-chairman Rep. Randy Miller said.

Apparently trying to put a good face on a laughable proposal, the West Linn Republican suggested that laptops might save money in the long run by allowing lawmakers to read bills online, thereby saving the cost of printing them.

But you have to ask yourself how that compares to adding (teachers) in the classroom, and it's a distant second, Miller continued.

Second? It's not even in the race.

Voters have made it abundantly clear that they expect a dramatic demonstration of legislators' commitment to rein in spending before they will consider voting to raise taxes. Here's your chance, lawmakers.

The Legislature should tighten its own belt, and do it dramatically and publicly.

Laptops? Out. Better taping systems? We can live with the ones we have. Improving crosswalks around the Capitol for &

36;2.5 million? We don't know how badly that's needed, but we do know there are far more serious needs throughout state government.

Those three items total about &

36;4 million. That's not even pocket change in a budget facing a &

36;1 billion hole, but it's a start toward erasing a 60 percent increase in the Legislature's own budget.

The amount is hardly the point, anyway. Gutting a budget that benefits them directly would show how serious our senators and representatives are about cost control.

After all, especially at this time of year, it's the thought that counts.

What's in a name?

The Southeast Plan, a vast housing development in ' you guessed it ' southeast Medford, is in need of a name.

The consensus is that the name Southeast Plan just doesn't make it. It doesn't reflect the nature of the giant project. The story that announced the name need suggested, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, the names Barnett Heights, Coyote Knoll or Scrub Oak Hills.

Obviously these names aren't suitable, but they're on the right track. The name needs to be descriptive, and it needs to stand the test of time ' holding up well in future years.

If you have a suggestion for a name, send it to Southeast Name, c/o Medford Planning Department, 200 S. Ivy St., Medford, OR 97501, or by e-mail to plnmed@ci.medford.or.us.

The Southeast Plan is designed to be a pedestrian-friendly community of about 10,000 residents on 1,000 acres east of North Phoenix Road, from the ridge above Cherry Lane south to Coal Mine Road.

The plan, which includes five developers, has been in the works for 13 years. It includes a central 46-acre commercial area near the intersection of Barnett and North Phoenix roads.

The first homes, in the Summerfield Subdivision, are to be under construction this winter.