Issaquah legislator introduces measure to eliminate some counties

February 8, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Under a proposal offered by state Rep. Glenn Anderson, state leaders could dissolve some Washington counties for taking in more in state dollars than they contribute through state tax revenue.

The measure is unlikely to emerge from the House of Representatives, or even a committee. But the proposal has started a discussion about the harsh budget reality legislators face.

Democrats from populous Western Washington counties — Seattle Rep. Reuven Carlyle and Snohomish Rep. Hans Dunshee — joined Anderson to introduce the proposed constitutional amendment.

“Washington is facing an extraordinary budget crisis, just like California,” Anderson said in a statement. “We must take direct action to restore fiscal sanity.”

The six-term Fall City Republican has represented Issaquah and other 5th Legislative District communities in East King County since 2001.

The state faces a $4.6 billion hole in the budget for 2011-13. Evergreen State residents could face increased fees and reduced services from state agencies, and larger class sizes as a result of widespread cuts.

“Of the 39 counties, six contribute 75 percent of the state’s total tax revenues,” Anderson said. “King County alone contributes 40 percent to the state’s total tax revenues, but receives only 25 percent in state program expenditures. That means King County residents, Republicans and Democrats alike, are paying double for state programs, subsidizing much of the rest of the state. This must change.”

The figures Anderson cite come from state Office of Financial Management data prepared for Carlyle.

The measure Anderson introduced aims to enable the Legislature to dissolve and reorganize counties if they receive at least twice as much in state funds as they generate through tax revenue.

The counties in line for the axe under the proposal include Adams, Asotin, Ferry, Stevens, Lincoln, Garfield, Yakima and Wahkiakum. In Olympia, Republicans represent all but Wahkiakum County.

“Republicans need to be seen as getting the state ahead of our problems, not just getting back to zero,” Anderson said.

State constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of the Legislature, plus statewide approval from voters.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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