Senator suggests fining lawmakers for special sessions

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on July 9, 2013 at 11:22 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 9 at 11:22 PM

The next time state leaders fail to pass a budget deal on time, it could cost them. Senator Rodney Tom wants to fine lawmakers $250 for each day they are late.

The Senate Majority Leader feels the state came far too close to a government shutdown over this year's budget negotiations.  In the future, he thinks a little monetary motivation might speed things along.

This year, it took lawmakers two special sessions to get the job done.  The first started May 14th and lasted 30 days, until June 11th.  The second special session took 18 days and adjourned June 29th.

Under Tom's proposal, at $250 a day for 48 days, each lawmaker would have had to pay $12,000 in fines.

"I think that's a fantastic idea," said Tiff Hayes, who lives in Seattle.  "I work at a community college, and the budget they set affects me directly, and so the longer they take, the longer we're in limbo, asking, 'are we going to have funding for this, are we going to have funding for this'."

Most the of the people surveyed by KING 5 shared Hayes' opinion, but a few were concerned lawmakers would rush the job, in order to protect their own bank accounts.

"On the face of it, it doesn't sound like it makes much sense," said Andre Duval.  "You don't want them to come up with a cruddy budget in the spur of the moment just because of a bill like that."

Senator Tom plans to introduce the legislation next year, but as you can imagine, he is already getting heat from his fellow lawmakers.

His proposal would also eliminate the $90 per-diem rate that lawmakers currently get during special sessions.

As for where the money collected from those fines would go, a spokesperson for Senator Tom says it would be put into the state's Education Legacy Trust Fund Account.

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