OLYMPIA – A new survey from state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, indicates jobs and the economy are the top concerns for residents of the 35th Legislative District.
More than a third of 35th District residents said “jobs and the economy” is the most important issue facing the Legislature. The 36.2 percent response far outweighed other choices on Sheldon’s annual poll. The next-most-popular item was climate change and environmental protection, at just 13.5 percent.
Some 433 people responded to Sheldon’s survey, either by mail or on Sheldon’s website. That is the highest response to Sheldon’s annual survey over the last five years.
“We’re glad to see so many people taking an interest in the issues before us in the Legislature,” Sheldon said. “The comments we have received indicate that most people in the district are strongly opposed to higher taxes. This is hardly a surprise. Although the state’s urban areas are booming, rural areas like the 35th District have not shared in the benefit.”
Sheldon’s survey was distributed to 35th District residents in a mailer, and was made available on his website. Responses were collected the last week of February and first week of March. The 35th District covers the south Kitsap Peninsula, the South Sound and western Thurston County.
Among the standout findings:
- 76 percent are opposed to a state income tax.
- 76 percent are opposed to tolling existing state highways.
- 63 percent are opposed to a per-mile tax to replace the state’s gas tax.
- 54 percent favor the death penalty.
- 57 percent say protecting gun rights is a high priority, 13 percent call it a low priority, and 26 percent are opposed.
- 45 percent say banning Atlantic net-pen salmon farming is a high priority, 31 percent call it a low priority, but only 10 percent oppose a ban.
- 37 percent say lowering business taxes is a high priority, and 36 percent call it a low priority, but only 17 percent are opposed.
- 37 percent say raising the cigarette-smoking age to 21 is a high priority, 45 percent call it a low priority, but only 11 percent are opposed.
The survey also asked 35th District residents how they would respond to the Supreme Court’s demand to implement pay raises for schools a year early, at a cost of $1 billion. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) agreed that that the Legislature should hold firm, and remind the court that the state constitution gives the Legislature the power to make spending decisions, rather than the judiciary. During the just-finished 2018 legislative session, which adjourned Thursday, majority Democrats chose instead to spend the money, in hopes of satisfying the court.
“We can see that the people of the 35th District are not on board with the aggressive tax-and-spend agenda favored by urban legislators,” Sheldon said. “We saw very little support for an income tax or for an aggressive climate-change agenda that dramatically increases the price of gasoline. People were strongly opposed to replacing gas taxes with a per-mile tax, because people have to drive longer distances in rural areas, and they see it as yet another way for the state to dig deeper into their pockets.
“In the areas beyond Seattle, support for these bold new schemes to remake our economy and society falters whenever they hit people in the pocketbook. Where money is tight, people are more inclined to ask, ‘how much will it cost me?’
“I want to thank everyone who took a few minutes to respond to this year’s survey online or to drop it in the mail. I especially appreciate the time many people took to write lengthier responses to the questions we posed. I will be reviewing these responses carefully. One of the most important things we lawmakers can do is to listen to our constituents, and let their views guide us as we cast votes. This year’s survey and other contacts our office has received will inform the positions we take as debate on these issues continues next year.”