Washington lawmakers older richer than their constituents

first_imgSEATTLE — A Seattle Times analysis has found Washington state’s 147-member Legislature is wealthier, older and less diverse than the people it represents.“The typical state legislator nationally is like a mid-50s white guy,” said Todd Donovan, a political science professor at Western Washington University.Although Washington is supposed to have a part-time “citizen Legislature,” the Times analysis of financial-disclosure reports found that about 27 percent of state lawmakers hold no outside job.Some of them depend solely on their state salary, plus per diems, but most also have supplemental income such as pensions, investments or a working spouse.Several full-time legislators are financially independent and appear in no real need of a state salary.State Rep. Hans Dunshee, 60, used to run a small business designing septic systems. He gave it up years ago because being chairman of the House Capital Budget Committee ate up too much time.He lives in a modest home he partly rents out and otherwise survives off the income of being a state legislator — $42,106 a year.“I was having customers call while I was working on stuff and couldn’t do them both well. I had to make a choice,” said Dunshee, D-Snohomish.Diverse backgroundsThe median age for state lawmakers here is 53. The median age for all state residents over the age of 18 is 45. While the state is 72 percent white and split 50-50 by gender, 90 percent of the state Legislature is white and two-thirds is male.“We have a progressive state like Washington that touts itself for diversity, yet it is striking that the Legislature has very few people of color in it,” Rep. Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace, said, adding he thinks that’s improving.last_img

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