Senate Majority Caucus Chair Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County, released the following statement today regarding public demonstrations on the first day of the Special Session:
"There should be no surprise that people are coming together to make their voices heard as the Legislature convenes to address the continuing revenue decline for public services due to the Great Recession and the termination of much federal government assistance. This should be expected as a normal part of participating in our democracy.
“People are feeling scared and angry as they learn about possible service cuts due to the revenue shortfall. This is with good reason.
“Working people, students, the disabled, the lower income, and owners of small businesses did not create this economic crisis — but they are paying for it, dearly.
"Many people are just struggling to survive. Washingtonians who have managed to keep their jobs have seen their pay cut and the cost of their health benefits increase. They are increasingly fearful of losing their jobs. Many average working families are paying more in taxes than are some of our largest corporations.
"Given the Legislature's duty to address the revenue losses, we do expect people to come to Olympia to express their hopes, their fears, and their recommendations for legislative action. We applaud their impassioned camaraderie and their exercising their right to speak up for important values we share as Americans and Washingtonians. We know that many people have strong views on how corporate management and government policies could be improved. It's easy to see why.
“We know the vast majority of people who will be demonstrating in Olympia on Monday will be doing so responsibly and in the finest of American traditions. We do not condone the tiny minority who might seek to desecrate property or engage in criminal behavior.
“The Legislature has an exceptionally difficult job ahead, and we will work hard to earn and maintain the public's trust.
“I invite the good people across the state to listen to those who come to address the Legislature, and to watch our work and where we place our priorities.
“Decide for yourselves if we are working to protect and create jobs, put the unemployed back to work, effectively provide public services, and protect the vulnerable during this horribly unforgiving Great Recession. These are our goals. Hold us accountable.”