Haigh, Appleton look to upcoming session

With the start of the next legislative session just over the horizon, 35th Legislative District Rep. Kathy Haigh (D-Shelton) and Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo), of the 23rd District, met with the community Wednesday night to discuss forthcoming issues.

The two representatives attended the Central Kitsap Community Council’s town hall, discussing education, the Frances Haddon Morgan Center and the ferry system, among other topics.

Haigh said she was working hard to secure more money to increase I-728 funds for schools and her focus now is on the early stages of education.

“We are working on an initiative to get money for scholarships for early childhood education,” she said.

Unfortunately, the current economic situation is making it difficult to find those funds and other programs will likely be cut, like the Running Start program that allows students to attend college while still in high school.

Appleton expressed concern over the budget as well, but said the revenue system is the culprit.

“These problems stem from being on a sales tax-based economy,” she said.

The good news for Central Kitsap is no cuts have been made to the local ferry system, in fact, another run is being added to the Bremerton ferry route.

“The ferry system is very important to us here,” she said. “That’s our lifeline.”

Appleton also is concerned about Washington companies not taking advantage of the local workforce, including Microsoft.

“Only 8 percent of Microsoft employees are from the state,” she said.

There has been talk lately about the closing of the Frances Haddon Morgan Center, but Appleton said she would like to keep the facility open if at all possible. The Legislature will meet Dec. 3 to discuss the issue.

Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown said the county has been good about not making cuts to the criminal justice system, but if things worsen economically, those cuts could be considered.

He also said he would like to see more competition between constituencies for stimulus dollars as he feels the county could earn funds for projects because of its leadership on important environmental issues.

“Kitsap County is leading the way in reducing stormwater runoff,” he said.

Central Kitsap School District Superintendent Greg Lynch said he is very concerned about the “funding cliff” schools will face in two years, but CKSD is in pretty good shape for now.

“We currently have a 90 percent graduation rate in Central Kitsap compared to a 72 percent graduation rate for the state,” Lynch said.

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