REDUCING HUNGER NEEDS TO BE PRIORITY

March 03, 2003 11:00 pm

One wonders what refreshments were served at Gov. Ted Kulongoski's hunger summit last Thursday. As the nation's hungriest state, we need much more relief than what a summit can provide.

OREGON'S budget situation is grim, and it doesn't appear to be getting any better. Oregonians will have to figure out what their priorities are as the state scrambles to save dollars. Lessening hunger in a state where 12 percent of the population cannot consistently afford food, should be a top priority.

Kulongoski gathered businesses, citizens, legislators and anti-hunger advocates to discuss solutions to Oregon's hunger problem. Calling the summit was a good step toward making sure food programs are not sacrificed during this budget crunch, which would make Oregon an even hungrier state.

"THERE ARE A LOT OF DUMB ways to save money," said Patti Whitney-Wise, executive director of Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force. "But not feeding children is the dumbest."

The value of Kulongoski's summit will be determined by future actions to stop hunger. Oregon needs to make it a priority. Let's hope Kulongoski isn't just using his mouth to speak, while others need to use theirs to eat.

TIME TO SET UP

Legislators have become so shy of raising fees and taxes that they cast a wary eye even when hundreds of people show up begging for an increase in the fees they pay. Such was the case a few weeks ago when sportsmen packed the Capitol to ask that the Legislature approve an increase in hunting and fishing license fees to help pay for managing and maintaining Oregon's fish and wildlife resources.

THAT THE PEOPLE who buy hunting and fishing licenses acknowledge that their dollars make a difference says a lot about sportsmen. The fees they pay take care of the resource they are concerned about. They know and they are willing to pay more. The public at large doesn't carry most of the burden for enhancing wildlife resources in Oregon, though the wildlife they too enjoy are often the result of people buying licenses.

Legislators are so concerned about what kind of impression they would make by voting for a fee increase that they've forgotten the concept of what it means to lead. Perhaps they are fearful of losing a campaign contribution for supporting a fee increase. But if hunters and fishers are willing to pay more for their licenses in order to see that the resources they care about are managed wisely, legislators shouldn't question their intentions. Managing wildlife resources takes money.

Hunters and fishers understand the concept. Legislators need to figure it out, too.