We’re at High Point Community Center, where West Seattle’s three state legislators are leading a “town hall” meeting to let constituents know what’s happening in Olympia – and to find out what constituents hope to see happening. Sen. Joe McDermott and Reps. Eileen Cody and Sharon Nelson are your 34th District legislators. They have given toplines on the legislation they’ve been working on, and a presentation on the state-budget dilemma ($2.8 billion shortfall in the current biennium and what to do about it). Now they’re taking audience questions – first question was about the corporate-personhood ruling and campaign financing. One interesting point – in the photo at left, you see Reps. Nelson and Cody holding copies of surveys they sent out. Nelson sent out 20,000 by e-mail, Cody about 21,000 by postal mail. The postal rate of return was 1,300+; the e-mail rate of return, fewer than 200. About 75 people are here, by the way; questioning is now turning to education financing.
1:39 PM: The meeting ended at the top of the hour, though the legislators lingered to speak with people who lined up to have a one-on-one word. The overall point seemed to be – the state has to close a budget gap but it’s almost impossible to figure out how – the budget presentation showed that $7.7 billion of the budget is the only part that can be cut (roughly a fourth), and while they expect an income-tax initiative this fall, if it passes, it would face years of court challenges, so it wouldn’t solve anything any time soon. What about raising revenue by privatizing liquor stores? they were asked. We rolled video as Reps. Nelson and Cody replied.
Town-hall meetings like these are being held in a number of legislative districts around the state today. The legislators promised they would do their best to get the budget-explaining slideshow onto the Web next week; meantime, one other account of the meeting is online so far, from PubliCola.