Rep. Mary Dye calls on lawmakers to restore funding for state fairs

A move to eliminate $4 million in funding for Washington state fairs faced vocal opposition in the state House of Representatives Friday. Many lawmakers, dumbfounded by the action of House majority budget writers, pressed for an amendment that would restore financial support.

“Fairs are the fabric of our rural communities and an integral piece of our state's history,” said Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy. “I've seen firsthand the leadership, educational value, and sense of accomplishment fairs provide our children. State fairs not only allow kids to raise money for college, but also teach them how to earn their way in the world.”

Dye continued, “With so much legislation geared at helping people who are living in poverty, we need to fund programs that build effective adults. We want to instill in kids the thrill of facing the challenges in life, while at the same time ensuring they have the innate understanding of how to persevere through challenges. Fairs help kids develop a can-do spirit.”

The amendment, which was rejected by House Democrats, would have allowed the State Treasurer to make a statutory change that would move $4 million over the next two years to fund fairs. Dye expressed her frustration openly after the vote:

“Education is a prime focus of the Legislature this session. It's important to remember that not all education comes from a classroom,” said Dye. “Our county fairs give our children the opportunity to learn about long-term responsibility. Our FFA and 4-H children take care of animals until they are old enough to sell at local fairs and marketplaces. Children learn the responsibility early-on about the importance of becoming self-supporting. We should be proud of these opportunities given to our children across the state. These experiences teach them about setting goals, following a project from beginning to end, and being proud of what they've accomplished. We need to stand behind our children and provide the funding to keep our state fairs thriving.”

The state House of Representatives passed a $45 billion operating budget proposal on Friday, on a 50-48 party-line vote. Over $3 billion in tax increases were an element of the budget, prompting 41 Republican amendments, of which only six were accepted.

To watch Dye's floor speech, click here.

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn the regular session on April 23.


Washington State House Republican Communications