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Meet the candidates: Mark Miloscia for District 30 state representative
(EDITOR'S NOTE: In an effort to educate the public before the Nov. 4 election, The Mirror is giving candidates an opportunity to answer six questions regarding important issues facing Federal Way and Washington state. Each of the candidates for District 30 state representative — Skip Priest, Carol Gregory, Michael Thompson and Mark Miloscia — have received this questionnaire.)
1. What are your qualifications for the state representative position?
I recognize the needs of businesses and managers, for I have struggled with running a business, in meeting payrolls and quarterly taxes, while doing what’s right to my employees.
I recognize the needs of those most vulnerable and helpless, for I have worked to help homeless women, helped those with disabilities find jobs, and those with mental illness or addiction just survive.
I recognize the education needs of our children and our public schools, for I served in our PTA, graduated three children from our public schools, and worked with many of your children while serving as a substitute teacher in both Federal Way public and Catholic schools.
I recognize the need to guide my actions as your state representative with sacrifice, justice, integrity and performance excellence, while balancing both individual and community responsibility. I learned this from 14 years service as an Air Force pilot and manager, my marriage to Meschell and our experiences as parents, and from my faith experiences as a follower of Jesus.
Lastly, I recognize the need to listen to my constituents, to speak truth to power, and to help bring about a more just society, not just for the influential, but for all people.
2. What measures should be implemented to lower the cost of doing business in Federal Way?
Today, Federal Way businesses enjoy a cost advantage over neighboring cities like Seattle and Tacoma. However, because of increasing demands for government services and budgets, and increasing property costs, the future does not look bright.
The failure of our economy and society to address declining wages for 60 percent of all workers, coupled with increasing criminal justice, education, health and human services, energy and housing needs, will eventually drive up the cost of doing business in this state. This is the real reason why government budgets are unsustainable and are in the red.
First, we must recognize that government tax dollars can’t be the first solution to solving our problems and that a just and lower-cost government starts with businesses and families taking the lead. We must stop creating poverty jobs and we must start working to create more stable two-parent families able to take responsibility for their own needs. This will lead to less demand for government services and prosperity for all.
Second, all governments must be performance driven, and focused on just solving critical problems. Baldrige Quality Assessments and improving government regulations, like the Growth Management Act, will help lower property costs, rents and taxes.
3. Should the state play a role in improving financial management skills in Washington's citizens?
Yes, we need to align our public schools and colleges to ensure all citizens have the education and skills needed to manage their finances in order to improve their lives and their prosperity.
The current housing meltdown, the unrealistic expansion of the use of credit cards and increasing reliance on unregulated high-interest payday lending practices, illustrate that many of us need to improve how we manage our finances. We have turned into a credit card spending, consumer obsessed culture and have forgotten the basic virtues of frugality and savings. It is time to change this and emphasize a different type of financial values.
“Give a person a fish, you feed him for a day, teach them to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” It is better to spend a little to teach our citizens proper financial management, frugality and savings, than to continue to implement expensive billion-dollar government bailouts every decade to rescue both businesses and individuals obsessed with unsustainable consumption.
4. What are some reasonable solutions to improving the quality of education in Federal Way and Washington state?
I teach in both Federal Way public and Catholic schools, and I see what students and teachers face, what works and what doesn’t work.
School dropout rates are at 25 percent, while reading, writing and math testing rates are stalled at 50 percent. School funding is low, not fairly distributed, and most importantly, does not address the critical root causes which harm our children — our future!
Before we increase funding, we must improve how we manage our education money. Without critical reforms addressing performance and root causes, quality education for all is impossible.
First, if we want quality schools, then all school districts must implement Baldrige Quality Assessments, just as all state agencies and those quality-driven local organizations like the City of Federal Way, Multi-Service Center and St. Francis Hospital.
Second, we must reverse the increasing number of homeless or transient students, poverty students, and students being raised in unstable families. No wonder many students are unable to learn and are failing. Schools must work with their community and state leaders to create stable, engaged, two-parent families with living wage jobs and affordable housing.
Until this happens, “quality education” and “leaving no child behind” are just pathetic slogans.
5. What are your thoughts on Washington state's Working Family Tax Exemption, which involves tax rebates for eligible families?
This family tax cut program, modeled on a similar federal tax cut program, is aimed at providing a state tax rebate to those families who work and are paid low wages by their employer.
Unfortunately, while our economy has grown and many businesses have profited, and while wages have increased for many college educated, union or technical workers, most other families and workers in our state have actually seen their wages drop. At the same time, they face higher taxes and increasing housing, health care and gas costs. Even in good times, prosperity for working families is getting bleaker.
There is a better way to help working families prosper than the Working Family Tax Exemption. The need for this type of program will only increase as the wages for workers continue to drop each year.
A better solution that will aid 60 percent of all workers and also reduce government budgets would be to raise the minimum wage slightly every year the overall economy grows. This will reverse the wage slide for 60 percent of workers in our state, increase prosperity for more families, which will improve our children’s education, and reduce the need for taxes.
6. How closely do you match up with your political party's established positions and values?
By inclination and as someone elected to represent a moderate suburban district, my values and positions tend to be moderate on issues as compared to my party.
My values and positions more closely align with the ethnic, Catholic, working class segment of the Democratic Party that was dominant 40 years ago, rather than the more libertarian, secular segment that is dominant today.
I closely match my party’s strong support for education, the environment, organized labor and proactively working to solve problems for people.
However, I tend to be a stronger advocate than my party for the common good, for stressing personal responsibility, social justice for the poor and vulnerable, working with the faith-based community, making government more efficient and effective, support for small businesses, and some pro-life issues (war, death penalty, strong two-parent families, ending homeless deaths).
I am not a supporter for some issues that my party supports, such as assisted suicide, abortion, embryonic stem cell research or gay marriage (though I support civil unions), and for looking to government budgets and taxes as a first option to solve societal problems.
To learn more about Mark Miloscia, who seeks re-election as a Democrat for District 30 state representative, visit www.markmiloscia.com.