Legislators salvage funding for Issaquah arts programs

June 7, 2011

Shakespeare on the Green is due to return to the Issaquah Community Center next month — and the “Macbeth” performance is safe, after state legislators approved a last-minute measure to shore up funding for the King County cultural services agency, 4Culture.

In addition to Shakespeare on the Green — from the Seattle Shakespeare Co. — dollars from 4Culture fund dozens of other programs in the community. Overall, 4Culture allocated more than $50,000 to arts, cultural and heritage organizations in the Issaquah area for 2011. Some organizations, such as the Seattle Shakespeare Co., could not offer Issaquah programs without the funding.

City Arts Coordinator Amy Dukes said funding from 4Culture is important because dollars allotted through the Arts Sustained Support Program can be used for operating costs.

“That’s really hard funding to replace,” she said. “Most funders want their funding to go toward specific programming, so the fact that 4Culture gives out this funding that’s unrestricted is a huge benefit.”

Lawmakers passed the 4Culture legislation as the last bill before the special legislative session adjourned May 25.

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Issaquah legislators receive assignments to influential committees

December 29, 2010

NEW — 4 p.m. Dec. 29, 2010

Issaquah legislators continue to pick up key committees assignments, lending area residents a stronger stake in education and fiscal matters.

Legislators return to Olympia on Jan. 5 for the regular session — and to confront a $4.6 billion budget gap.

Issaquah is spread across the 5th, 4lst and 48th legislative districts. The local delegation includes a half-dozen representatives and three senators.

State Sen. Steve Litzow, a Republican freshman from Mercer Island, has been named the ranking member on the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. GOP senators also selected Litzow for the Transportation and the Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance committees.

“Education is my No. 1 priority as a legislator,” he said in a statement. “During my campaign, I promised to put our schools first. I am honored that my colleagues have chosen me for this leadership role. I look forward to working with 41st District parents and teachers, and with stakeholders across the state on issues that affect our schools and our children.”

Litzow represents Cougar Mountain neighborhoods in Issaquah and other 41st Legislative District communities.

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State eyes tougher high school graduation credits

December 28, 2010

Proposed graduation requirements

Before earning a high school diploma, it’s no secret that students have to pass a number of required courses — 19 mandated by the state and a few others required by their school.

After a three-year study of high school credits, the Washington State Board of Education has recommended that the number of mandatory credits increase from 19 to 24. Such an endeavor would cost the state an estimated $188 million between 2011 and 2016, and would need financial approval from the state Legislature.

Most of the money would pay for teacher and counselor salaries. The state pays for five high school periods now, and it would have to fund six if the bill passed. About $28 million would pay for facility costs, since some schools would need extra science and art classrooms so their students could meet the new recommended requirements.

With a gaping state budget deficit estimated at $4.6 billion, some educators aren’t holding their breath while waiting for the bill to pass.

Regardless of funding, Washington is woefully behind in the number of credits it requires of its high school students. The board reviewed how Washington ranks compared to other states and found 16 states require more than the state’s three credits of math; 36 required more than two credits of science; 39 required more than two and a half credits of social studies; and 45 required more than three credits of English.

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School district could lose more than $3 million from governor’s cuts

December 21, 2010

The Issaquah School District is slated to lose $3.17 million in the proposed budget Gov. Chris Gregoire released Dec. 15.

The 2011-13 proposed budget aims to address a $4.6 billion shortfall.

“This is on top more than $10 million in cuts from the last two budget cycles and a $1-million mid-year cut to our current budget from Saturday’s special session,” Issaquah Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said in a statement. “If I have said we were down to the bone before now, this starts cutting into the marrow of classroom operations.” Read more

Issaquah residents defied trends in November election

December 14, 2010

The ballot measure to create a state income tax failed just about everywhere outside of left-leaning Seattle and Vashon Island — except for a precinct nestled along Lake Sammamish.

Initiative 1098 received ironclad support — 80 percent — in the precinct. The catch: King County records indicate the precinct has 11 registered voters; 10 participated in the Nov. 2 election.

The information about the Lake Sammamish precinct comes from a detailed analysis of the precinct results in the recent election. (Issaquah is carved into 30 precincts.)

The neighborhood-level data — released a month after the election — illustrates how the Issaquah electorate bucked state trends on some issues and rejected incumbents even as the candidates cruised to re-election.

The dueling liquor initiatives on the ballot, 1100 and 1105, received uneven support from Issaquah voters.

Initiative 1100, a liquor privatization measure backed by Issaquah-based Costco — the largest employer in the city — received broad backing in the city even as the measure came up short statewide.

Initiative 1105 failed in every Issaquah precinct and only managed to garner 35 percent of the vote statewide.

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Republican tide ebbs in Issaquah-area races

November 9, 2010

Both parties highlight successes in local contests

The national GOP tsunami carried Republicans into statehouses across the nation on Election Day, but in Washington, the wave amounted to little more than a gentle crest.

Republicans did not dislodge Democrats from majorities in the state Senate or state House of Representatives, but candidates faced a testier electorate, and Democrats face shrunken majorities in both chambers.

Despite strong candidates and a favorable political environment, Republicans did not reclaim a majority in Issaquah-area statehouse seats.

Democrats and Republicans trumpeted successes in the days after Election Day, as elections offices tallied the remaining ballots for statehouse contests.

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Democrat Ross Hunter re-elected to state House

November 9, 2010

NEW — 10:40 a.m. Nov. 9, 2010

Republican Diane Tebelius has conceded a close state House of Representatives race to incumbent Ross Hunter.

Tebelius dropped out of the 48th Legislative District race Monday, as Hunter led the contest by 2,477 votes.

“Today I called state Rep. Ross Hunter to congratulate him on his re-election,” Tebelius said in a statement. “Over the past few months we have had a vigorous debate over the future of our great state. Washington’s fiscal health must be restored by growing jobs in the private sector and not growing government.”

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Local races remain unresolved as ballot count resumes for another week

November 7, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 7, 2010

King County Elections concluded four days of ballot counts Friday, but the latest batch of results did little to clarify the outcome in still-unresolved Issaquah-area races.

The elections office added 74,265 ballots to the tally Friday to bring the total number of ballots counted to 569,743. The office reports the next results at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Since Election Day, the tight state Senate race in the 48th Legislative District seesawed to favor Democrat Rodney Tom.

The incumbent lagged behind Republican challenger Gregg Bennett on election night, but Tom has built a 1,010-vote lead in days since.

Democrat Ross Hunter, a 48th District representative, solidified a lead against Republican Diane Tebelius. The margin between the candidates increased to 1,824 votes by Friday.

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Dino Rossi trails in U.S. Senate race as count continues

November 3, 2010

Dino Rossi, U.S. Senate candidate, kisses wife Terry as children (from left) Jake, Joseph, Juliauna and Jillian look on during a GOP celebration in Bellevue Tuesday. By Greg Farrar

State Senate races remain too close to call

UPDATED — 5:55 p.m. Nov. 3, 2010

Republican Dino Rossi, a Sammamish resident and former Issaquah state senator, trailed incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray by about 24,800 votes Wednesday afternoon, though the number could shift in the days ahead as mail ballots reach elections offices statewide.

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Statehouse incumbents appear to be headed for re-election

November 2, 2010

UPDATED — 9:20 p.m. Nov. 2, 2010

Incumbents in the race to represent Issaquah in Olympia — Republicans Glenn Anderson and Jay Rodne, and Democrat Judy Clibborn — pulled far ahead of opponents in initial election results released Tuesday night.

The representatives trounced little known or under-funded candidates to cruise to re-election.

Meanwhile, Democrat Marcie Maxwell appeared to be locked into a close contest against Republican Peter Dunbar to retain the state House of Representatives seat she clinched in 2008. The same scenario appeared to be the case for Democrat Randy Gordon and Republican Steve Litzow in a state Senate bout.

The measure to increase the King County sales tax rate to pay for criminal justice services trailed in early returns and a state liquor-privatization measure backed by Issaquah-based Costco lagged.

Republican Dino Rossi, a Sammamish resident and former Issaquah state senator, remained locked in a tight race against incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Democrat in a close fight for a fourth term.

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