LYMPIA -- A Washington lawmaker has been drawing thousands of dollars in disability payments each year while leading efforts to eliminate benefits the state provides to others.
Republican Sen. Joseph Zarelli gets $601 a month from the federal government, indicating that he is considered 40 percent disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to records obtained by The Associated Press under public records law. He has been receiving the tax-free stipend for years.
Zarelli said the disability payments he gets are far different than the benefits provided in the state programs he's targeting for cuts, in part because he suffered his injury on the job. He said the people in the state system were making poor lifestyle choices -- such as drug and alcohol addiction -- and argued that lawmakers should be focused more on identifying ways to fix their problems.