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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Basic Obligations Supersede Stadium

The difference between boys and men, or so the saying goes, is the price of their toys. Consider, for example, the rush being put on the boys who lob your tax dollars around Olympia. Back when they were kids, ecstasy was a new football. Now, they’re told, it’s a new stadium to throw one in.

The price for a Seahawks stadium? Only $400 million, give or take a cost overrun or two. Most would come from public sources, including a new tax that’d gouge kids when they buy sports memorabilia, like baseball cards and Cougar sweatshirts. All this, for an arena to be used 10 days a year - by a mediocre team whose would-be owner is a billionaire who sneaks out the Capitol’s back doors, leaving lobbyists to defend his pitch for a subsidy.

Sheesh. This is a good argument for more women to get into politics.

True, great football spectacles can be a civic asset. So what are the Huskies? Chopped liver? They’ve given Seattle a more interesting tradition, and a far prettier gridiron, than their professional brethren on the other end of town.

It’s also true that many state legislators, for now, take a dim view of subsidizing another $400 million sports arena for King County, that poor, economically struggling home of Microsoft, Boeing, Nordstrom, Price Costco, Starbucks …

Indeed, the Legislature has seemed in a downright conservative mood, cutting gaily away at taxes. So much so, that it may have a tough time funding basic obligations.

What are those obligations? This year, better roads funding is one. There are others, from prisons to public schools. And, improvements are needed for a long list of state facilities, none quite so glamorous as a pro sports arena. For example:

The state museum in Spokane needs attention, as was given recently to the state museum in Tacoma, now in a shiny new facility. Here, Cheney Cowles Museum has one of the nation’s finest collections of Native American artifacts but lacks a facility to display them; one is planned, and it’s time for the state to get the project in the budget.

More space is needed at the only branch campus in the state to attract more students than it can serve. Spokane’s higher education park seeks a $29 million structure to house programs that train future pharmacists, physical therapists, speech therapists and other health professionals in extreme demand statewide. This would add good jobs and growth to Spokane’s low-wage economy.

It would be wrong for legislators to treat expenditures like trading cards - Spokane can have a health sciences building if Seattle gets another stadium, or vice versa. Legitimate state projects stand, or fall, on their own merits.

Government’s no game, though it can seem like one. If the Legislature approaches its duties with maturity - women members, be heard! - the public will be well served.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = John Webster/For the editorial board

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