Kristiansen fights to save levy equalization, protect corrections security guards in budget reduction bill

Lawmakers in Olympia moved forward today to adopt a bipartisan package of spending reductions to decrease a $1.1 billion deficit by $588 million for a state operating budget that runs through June 30.

Rep. Dan Kristiansen, who supported the budget reduction bills, said overspending combined by a lagging economic recovery have led to a deep budget deficit which required immediate action in today’s special session.

“For every day we delay action, it costs taxpayers an additional $10 million and it means deeper cuts. That’s why my Republican colleagues and I have been asking the governor since September to call a special session so that we could make needed course corrections to this budget,” said Kristiansen, R-Snohomish.

The 39th District lawmaker said negotiations on today’s budget agreement involved minority Republicans in both the House and Senate.

“The original proposal would have significantly reduced levy equalization funding to rural schools, resulting in layoffs for many teachers. This would have been particularly devastating to many schools throughout the 39th District which heavily rely on those funds and don’t have the revenue of the more affluent districts. We stood our ground and fought to save levy equalization,” said Kristiansen.

“Also, the proposed cuts in corrections originally would have removed security officers from vulnerable areas of our prisons, including the kitchen and the lunchroom where many fights break out. I met with corrections officers about a month ago and made a commitment that we will do all we can to ensure their safety, and from that, we were able to prevent those reductions from happening in this budget agreement,” added Kristiansen. “There will still be painful cuts in other areas of corrections, but we have re-prioritized to protect security officers in the prison system.

“Today we have begun the first chapter of what will be a difficult road ahead as we return in January to close the remaining portion of this deficit. It will require crafting a budget that also closes the gap on a projected $5.7 billion deficit through the 2011-13 budget cycle,” said Kristiansen. “We’re also going to have to differentiate between needs and wants. In this economy, families are having to make those decisions. The Legislature should be no different. We have to set priorities and make sure we are taking care of the state’s needs instead of the wants. That must be the first order of business when the Legislature re-convenes next month.”

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Washington State House Republican Communications