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Local legislators: Budget challenges will take collaborative effort
The state legislative session kicks off Jan. 12 and a top priority for local legislators is to work closely together with the Senate and governor in the budgeting process.
That was the sentiment of state Rep. Kathy Haigh (D-Shelton) who spoke of the budgetary hurdles lawmakers will face in the coming year. Haigh, 23rd District Rep. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island) and incoming 26th District Rep. Jan Angel, whose term as South Kitsap commissioner ends in about three weeks, spoke to Central Kitsap residents at Wednesday night’s Central Kitsap Community Council meeting at the Jenne-Wright Administration Center.
“We know what a challenge the budget is going to be,” Haigh said. “We want to try to work very closely with the Senate and work with the governor ... Hopefully we can put out collaborative budgets from the very beginning.”
With gas prices dropping, big projects also are going out for re-bid, according to Haigh, and many are coming in 20 percent less.
“If we can find a way to get projects going now, we can get a lot more for our tax dollars,” she said.
Council member Gary Lindsey questioned what would be the best way for community members to encourage lawmakers to acquire funding for local projects.
“A letter to all members who represent the Kitsap area helps — we work pretty closely together — and e-mails are always helpful,” Haigh replied. “The biggest thing is having someone who reports back to you ... having a contact person who brings information back to you.”
For the council, she said a good liaison would be Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown.
As for priorities in the upcoming session, Rolfes said her primary focus will include the ferry system.
“We need ferry boats and we need to be able to afford them,” she said. “...The ferry system has serious funding issues and we need to work on that.”
Rolfes’ other priorities this session will include the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority (KCCHA) and Chico Creek.
“I will work with Josh Brown on how to get culvert replacement money from DOT (the department of transportation) focused on the Chico Creek project,” she said.
The council presented its priorities for legislators to consider in the upcoming session including the Newberry Hill Heritage Park project, KCCHA and the Central Kitsap Community Campus.
Council president Jon Pearson offered lawmakers CKCC’s assistance, saying, “when you have things you need support on, let us know.”