Rolfes on state budget: ‘Doing the best we can with what we have’

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Weathering the current economic storm won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn’t mean things in Olympia are all doom and gloom, according to 23rd District State Rep. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island).

“We’re doing the best we can with what we have,” Rolfes said, noting that even with the economic stimulus funding coming out of Washington D.C., the state is still looking at budget cuts across the board.

As local school districts begin piecing together their budgets for the coming school year, Rolfes said she and many of her peers in Olympia are fighting to fully fund the I-728 initiative, which provides additional money to help students reach new state learning standards.

“I’m hopeful with the money from the federal government, we can stay at the status quo for K-12 for the next two years,” she said.

That funding will be dedicated to basic education, but after-school programs and other such programs that are helping students excel may be cut, she said.

“The communities are doing all they can to support their schools and it’s my belief that the state hasn’t done enough to fund education,” she said, noting full funding for education won’t happen this biennium.

With education funding expected to possibly remain at the status quo, Rolfes also is working diligently to address the ferry issue in Kitsap County and statewide.

“There won’t be any service cuts and we will continue to provide service,” she said.

What has happened over the past year is a shift in the capital projects philosophy, she said.

“We’re now looking at building new boats instead of focusing on new terminals and an expensive reservation system,” she said.

As a direct result of the hard work done by a dedicated group of individuals to develop Plan C for the state ferries system, Rolfes said many of those ideas are being included in the new plans for the ferries’ future.

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