OLYMPIA – Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark had finished his pitch for an extra $24 million in his budget next year to fight wildfires when members of a Senate committee asked him a question rarely heard at the Capitol:
Don’t you need more money?
Sen. Brian Danzel, R-Republic, who was evacuated from his home and couldn’t return for three week, wondered if that was enough to withstand another fire season like the last one.
“I don’t know what enough looks like,” Goldmark said. “This is a good first step.”
It includes money to train more firefighters, thin forests to prevent future fires, better communication and expand aerial assets. It would be in addition to the $164 million the state spent fighting the summer’s record wildfires, which topped 1,500 around Washington.
Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, pressed Goldmark on whether he wasn’t being a bit too chintzy. Why only ask for $24 million, she asked.
“You don’t build the capacity you need in a day or a season,” Goldmark said. “I want to be prudent about how I spend state dollars.”
Chase persisted: “I’m worried that we’re not putting enough money into this.”
Goldmark relented: “If you feel this isn’t enough, I encourage you to adjust it upwards if you see fit.”