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Legislators making mid-term hometown swing

Town hall meeting

1:30 p.m. Saturday at Olympic High School.

With the 2009 Washington Legislative session near its midway point, all 23rd District legislators are returning home tomorrow for two town hall meetings in Kitsap County.

The first is in Kingston before state Reps. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) and Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island) along with state Sen. Phil Rockefeller (D-Bainbridge Island) arrive at Olympic High School in East Bremerton for a town hall meeting at 1:30 p.m.

“In past years we’ve heard a lot from people seeking money for new ideas,” Rolfes said. “This year we’re collecting ideas on how we can save money.”

Currently the state is facing an $8 billion budget shortfall, which means “there will definitely be cuts across the board,” she said, noting that everything in the state budget will be cut in some way.

There are, however, basic programs the majority of the Legislature believes are important and the hope is to maintain the current level of funding for those programs or at least provide enough funding to sustain them through the tough economic times, she said.

Gov. Chris Gregoire recently wiped out every state committee, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, Rolfes commented.

“We’re putting them back in as we evaluate them one by one,” she said. “The benefit is that it gives us the chance to combine some and get rid of ones that aren’t really important.”

Some of the statewide committees were formed to construct policy that is no longer relevant or have already performed their function, she said.

While many constituents will undoubtedly have specific questions about the state budget, Rolfes said she and her fellow 23rd District legislators will only be able to speak in general terms about the possible cuts.

“We don’t have the draft budget from both houses, but we can use the governor’s budget as a frame of reference,” she said, noting the governor’s budget only anticipated a $3 billion shortfall.

At Saturday’s meeting, each of the legislators will give a brief update on what they’ve been working on during this current legislative session before opening the meeting up to questions from the audience, she said.

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