OLYMPIA — With the Legislature having reduced wages for public employees across the state in order to balance the budget, Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, has decided to voluntarily reduce his senatorial salary to the same extent.
“In these difficult times, we’re asking everyone to sacrifice,” Sheldon said. “It’s only right that I make the same sacrifice we’re asking others to make.”
Sheldon has extended the same philosophy to his income as a Mason County commissioner, voluntarily reducing his commissioner pay by the same 3 percent as his legislative pay.
“As a public official, I’ve always tried to mirror my district,” Sheldon said. “Well, that means mirroring what my constituents are going through.”
Sheldon is saving taxpayer dollars in other ways as well.
Every year, most members of the Legislature mail newsletters to their constituents at a moderate state expense. This session Sheldon suspended the traditional post-session mailing to further reduce legislative costs.
“I have always enjoyed speaking with my neighbors in the 35th District at the grocery store or a local park, and my newsletter was an extension of those conversations,” said Sheldon. “But given the continued financial challenges facing the state, I can’t justify it.”
Sheldon was allotted roughly $8,000 to send his newsletter to approximately 20,000 constituents. Sheldon declined the money and instead is exploring a different means of communicating at a greatly reduced state expense.
“As technology continues to evolve, so do our means to reach people in new and cheaper ways,” Sheldon said. “Instead of paying to print and mail a newsletter, I’ll circulate a majority of my communications digitally from now on.”
Sheldon acknowledged that not all constituents may have internet access or a subscription to his new e-newsletters.
“This is an experiment,” he said. “Families across the state are finding new and innovative ways to cut expenses, and so are we. Perhaps once our state has more fully recovered from the Great Recession, we’ll be able to do a scaled-down newsletter to reach those without internet access, but given the cuts facing public education, healthcare and other services, I simply cannot justify the cost to taxpayers at this time.”
Sheldon expressed hope that others may follow his lead and do the same.
Constituents and any other interested parties can subscribe to Sheldon’s e-newsletter at www.sdc.wa.gov/senators/sheldon.