Editorial: Olympia treats Whidbey well

Whidbey Island was one of the winners in the 2007 session of the Washington State Legislature.

The island received modest but important amounts of funding for dredging Oak Harbor’s marina channel, installing a military memorial at the new Oak Harbor stadium, and building a covered play area for Coupeville elementary kids.

Bigger bucks went to some major land acquisition projects, including $800,000 for State Parks to revamp the Cornet Bay recreation area, $459,775 to help purchase the Hoypus Hill area, and $750,000 to buy 150 acres inside Ebey’s Reserve. These projects will benefit islanders into perpetuity, preserving more of our treasured open spaces.

The Legislature wasn’t afraid to spend the excess tax dollars rolling in from the booming economy, so education spending was slightly enhanced. However, local school districts failed in their effort to acquire significantly more state help in the areas of transportation and special education. More money did go to higher education, which includes $4 million to work toward a new branch of the University of Washington in Snohomish County, where it could better serve Island County residents as well.

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, and the 10th District’s two Republicans, Rep. Chris Strow and Rep. Barbara Bailey, all did what they could to help their home district. Haugen, being a powerful senator in the majority party, of course played the biggest role. The two Republicans helped approve the capital budget and did their best to keep spending from spiraling entirely out of control.

Think what you want about state spending, but it’s good to see tax dollars paid by Whidbey Island residents returned to Island County. And remember, the state spends much more on schools, roads, parks and open space acquisition on Whidbey Island than it receives from us in taxes, so be thankful for that next time you pay your property tax bill.

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