Mason County earns funding for education, a new judge and extraordinary court costs

This year’s legislative session ended on a positive note for Sen. Tim Sheldon thanks to the passage of a bipartisan supplemental budget, which included funding for three important needs in the 35th Legislative District.

For the first time in five years, the Legislature completed its work and adjourned on time, late Thursday night. Earlier in the day, and with broad bipartisan support, the Senate approved a sustainable and balanced supplemental operating budget that prioritizes education without raising taxes, allowing job creators a better chance to grow, innovate and flourish.

“It is unprecedented to pass a budget with a vote of 48-1 in favor of the proposal,” said Sheldon, D-Potlatch. “The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus really delivered and the approved budget is something that Washingtonians can be proud of. Wouldn’t it be great if Washington D.C. was as committed to bipartisanship as our state Senate is?”

Specific to the 35th District, the approved budget allocates funds for Mason County to hire a much-needed third Superior Court judge, which is authorized by Sheldon’s Senate Bill 5981. The budget also designates just more than $70,000 – about half of the requested amount – to help reimburse Mason County for two aggravated-murder trials that resulted in extraordinary legal expenses.

“Up until the final hours of budget negotiations on Thursday, I was not sure if we were going to get funding for these two things. For some reason my superior court-judge bill was one of the hardest to get through; it took a lot of shepherding, but ended up passing both chambers with a near-unanimous vote.”

Last but not least, Sheldon says the budget along with the passage of House Bill 2207 restores $92,000 to three school districts in the 35th District – Mary M. Knight, Pioneer, and Shelton. Currently school districts in counties with federal forests receive payment in federal dollars to offset the loss of property-tax revenue from those forests; however, a corresponding amount of money has historically been taken out of state allocations.

“The bill reverses a policy that has been in place for about 30 years. This money is going to go a long way toward helping our schools that are in low-income areas.”