Grays Harbor County Commissioner Vickie Raines has written a letter to the editor of The Daily World asking, “Why has Washington stuck counties with a $136 million in indigent defense court costs?”
Commissioner Raines states that in 2016, Grays Harbor County’s indigent defense costs topped $1 million for our small, rural county. We are on track for those expenses to reach $1.5 million in 2017.
I understand Commissioner Raines is frustrated with unfunded state mandates. I feel that the state should provide the funding for these costs.
Commissioner Raines explained that 23 states cover the entire cost and 31 states provide half the cost for these indigent defense cost.
My answer to her question is that the state (locally elected state legislative officials) are unable to provide the required funding because “They, the state, are too busy buying votes.”
For example, the State House Budget proposes $4.15 billion in construction budget — projects that some would consider unneeded.
Of the $4.15 billion, $1,750,000 is allocated for the Gateway Center in Aberdeen — the proposed visitor center in Aberdeen.
Most people cannot remember utilizing a visitor center in their travels.
Generally, people under 75 are almost certainly using Al Gore’s internet. They have a smart phone and have planned trips using information obtained online.
The $4.15 billion is money the Legislature is spreading around to buy your vote for the next election.
Rather than attempt to buy our votes, this money would be better spent funding our schools and courts.
I feel this is a simple issue. The state Legislature’s priority should be taking care of state business. The votes should be earned and not bought.
If the money was not being requested for an unnecessary visitor center, the state would be able to cover the indigent court costs.