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Kitsap lawmakers tout successes in 2008 Legislature

Kitsap County feted its state legislative delegation on Thursday night, giving members of the state Senate and House of Representatives an opportunity to discuss their accomplishments during this year’s session and outline their goals for the year ahead.

The event, held at Amy’s on the Bay in Port Orchard, was attended by legislative, county and municipal officials, along with Speaker of the House Rep. Frank Chopp (D-Seattle).

“This view is the greatest view on earth,” said Chopp, who grew up in Bremerton. “I’m happy to be reconnected with this community, and it is an honor to be working with this team of legislators.”

Prior to the evening’s event, Chopp visited projects in Kingston and Silverdale that did not receive funding this year.

Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) had arranged the tour so Chopp could see what was not getting funded and what she believes needs to be supported during next year’s session.

Chopp said public education was the biggest priority, and that subsidies for public education were the most important investments the government can make.

He cited mental health as another priority, and said his tour of Kitsap underscored the importance of community centers — even if they were not funded this time.

“We need to connect the dots when it comes to subsidies of public education and show people exactly what the money goes for,” Chopp said. “Through these subsidies, a million people will benefit.”

Support for all levels of education became a theme for the event, with Appleton stating her disappointment that a program that provided support for new mothers was not funded.

Concerning the next age range, Rep. Kathy Haigh (D-Shelton) voiced support for subsidies for young children, saying that an early investment of $5,000 per child can save incalculable amounts of law and justice fees at a later date.

Rolfes, who has become a key player in transportation issues, said she was pleased that all the communities served by ferries were working together this year, rather than supporting their own interests at the expense of others.

“This cooperation allowed us to move forward and make a lot of progress,” she said. “And we were able to put our differences aside.”

Appleton cited progress on the ferries, but said it was not nearly enough. She expressed support for frequent user discounts and the ability to facilitate family travel.

“We need to look at the ferries on a regional basis,” said Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor). “We need to think about new routes, and new ways to move people around. And King County Metro needs to integrate itself with the ferry system, the same way that Kitsap Transit does over here.”

Throughout the evening, the idea that the ferries was part of the road system — and should be similarly funded —

“There is no mass transit system in the world that does not receive subsidies,” Appleton said. “And if we subsidize the ferries we should own them, and run them.”

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