Water Cooler
7:09 am
Tue October 26, 2010

Money pours into campaigns while social services struggle

You might think that in the midst of the Great Recession everyone - including candidates for office - are feeling the pinch. Not so. From our Washington to the other, fundraising has hit record highs for an off-year election - $2 Billion -  according to  a story in today's Washington Post.  Our state's Senate candidates raised a combined $8 million in the last three-month reporting period, with an additional $6 million being spent here by national 'interest groups' - you know, the producers of all those TV ads we're turning off.

Even state legislative races are raising eyebrows. KPLU's Austin Jenkins reports total fundraising for house and senate seats is now past $20 Million. The winners of these local races will take office in January, where they'll be figuring out how to pick up the pieces of a shattered state budget with a $4 Billion deficit. They'll also be hearing from social service agencies seeing a higher demand while absorbing big cuts.  Many of those agencies' budgets are half of what is being raised for a state house seat, this year averaging $400, 000. 

One example are  domestic violence programs.  The Seattle City Council will hold a hearing this evening on Mayor Mike McGinn's proposed budget. Among its recommendations: eliminating money for domestic violence prevention programs. King County already eliminated funds for programs it has  long supported, including the Eastside Domestic Violence Program and Eastside Legal Assistance Program (ELAP). Their advocates are watching the vote on the King County Proposition 1, which would renew county aid. The executive director of ELAP says they're not counting on that money, and instead preparing for a loss of more than a quarter of their annual budget.

And its Happy Birthday to a fictional character who is a satirical icon of American politics and social tensions. Mike Doonesbury turns 40 today. NPR talks with Garry Trudeau about the comic strip he unleashed in 1970...and you can see his first Doonesbury panel.

The first Doonesbury comic appeared October 26, 1970. AP photo.