Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, issued the following statement today regarding his support of a coalition budget proposed by Senate Republicans and three Democratic senators:
“Congressman Jack Kennedy once said, in the 1940s when he was first elected to Congress, ‘Sometimes the party asks too much.’ Well, that’s how I’ve felt about the budget process and that’s why I’m joining with this bipartisan coalition of senators to present a budget.
“The budget passed by the House on Feb. 29 would make extreme cuts to 39 counties, cuts I find unacceptable in my additional role as a Mason County commissioner. This budget restores $18 million in cuts made by the House budget to the criminal justice administration account. This account pays for half of district court judges’ salaries and also for indigent defense. Those cuts would devastate county government.
“The coalition budget restores $5 million in cuts to vital county health programs. Whooping cough and diphtheria don’t respect county borders. Just as importantly, it restores $26 million in rural county sales tax credits for more than 30 counties. Mason County alone receives about $600,000 a year in sales tax credits that we use for county infrastructure — roads, bridges, water lines. If that money were to go away, we would have one heck of a time paying for infrastructure that we’ve already committed to, because we’ve bonded for that money.
“This budget avoids going back to what we had for many years, and what we would have again under the House budget, which is two Washingtons. We’d have a fairly prosperous King, Pierce, Snohomish and Thurston counties while the other rural counties across our state would be devastated.
“It’s not fair to kick the can down the road and push these problems onto the rural counties. We have to work in a partnership with the state, and that’s why I’m supporting this budget.”