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Missouri State Rep. Barbara Washington Files For Bankruptcy, Citing $358,000 In Debt

Missouri State Legislature
Missouri State Rep. Barbara Washington is set to become a state senator in January after winning the November race to fill the seat vacated by Kiki Curls.

Missouri Rep. Barbara Washington filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection Thursday, citing $358,000 in debts, including more than $68,000 in delinquent federal income taxes and nearly $209,000 in student loans.

Washington, a Democrat, currently represents House District 23, which includes parts of Jackson County to the east and southeast of downtown Kansas City.

She’s set to become a state senator in January after winning the November race to fill the Senate District 9 seat vacated by Kiki Curls.

Washington told KCUR she took a pay cut to serve in the state’s part-time legislature and that her law practice has gone down “quite a bit” in the last few years.

“This is a way for me to continue to serve my community,” she said.

Washington’s legislative salary is $35,915, plus allowances for expenses during the legislative session. Missouri pays representatives and senators equal amounts.

Washington, who operates the Washington Law Firm, said in her bankruptcy filing that she earned another $7,500 this year in business income. That’s down from about $12,000 in 2019.

On her bankruptcy petition, she lists about $45,000 in total assets.

Washington told KCUR she intends to repay her debts. Her Chapter 13 repayment plan calls for her to make monthly payments of $885 to creditors.

Her more than $68,000 in delinquent taxes are owed for every year since 2011 except for 2013, according to her Chapter 13 petition. But only the last four years' worth — a little more than $20,000 — are listed as priority debts, because taxes owed within more than three years of the filing of a bankruptcy petition don't get priority status.

Priority creditors stand at the front of the line when it comes to repayment.

Washington first joined the House in 2017, when she won a special election for House District 23. She was easily reelected in 2018, and easily won her Senate race in November.

In addition to a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Washington has a Masters of Business Administration degree from Avila University.

She told KCUR she racked up most of her student loan debt when pursuing her MBA.

Outside of her student loans, Washington’s major creditors on the remaining $150,000 include various health care and credit card providers.

She told KCUR her bankruptcy will not impact her work in the legislature.

“I still serve my community,” she said. “I always have and I always will. In fact, that's why I'm probably broke, because I do more for my community than I do for my (law practice).”

As a reporter covering military and veterans’ affairs, I tell the stories of current and former service members and their families. I hold the government, elected officials and others responsible when they break their promises. And I explore how Americans can best uphold our commitments to those who serve.
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