Candidates for state representative addressed District 30 business leaders at a brief forum in Federal Way.
The forum, sponsored by the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce and held Sept. 3, featured candidates for two races: Democrat incumbent Mark Miloscia and Republican challenger Michael Thompson for position 1, as well as Republican incumbent Skip Priest and Democrat challenger Carol Gregory for position 2.
Each pair of candidates fielded five questions in a 15-minute session from the Chamber’s luncheon audience. Candidates also gave closing remarks.
Mark Miloscia vs. Michael Thompson
Both candidates agreed that the state’s business and occupation (“B and O”) tax is unfair to Federal Way businesses.
Nearly everyone doing business in Washington is subjected to the tax, which targets the gross income of a business or the gross proceeds of sale, according to the state Department of Revenue. Cities can also set their own applications on the tax, according to the department. Thompson said he would work to generate income from sales of goods in a free market instead of from businesses. Miloscia said the system needs the “political will to change.”
When asked about their thoughts on the state’s income tax, Miloscia said voters would never approve one, and that lawmakers must work around the tax system. Thompson said he was opposed to a state income tax, adding that “the fruits of labor are yours.”
The next question asked candidates how foster care can be reduced in Federal Way. Thompson wants more involvement from families and less involvement from state agencies such as Child Protective Services and Department of Social and Health Services. Miloscia agreed, adding that “when a child goes to foster care, that’s not a solution.”
Miloscia called the state’s responsibility for school funding “a funny formula” that’s unfair to kids in Washington. He noted school funding is an ongoing issue that lawmakers expect to address. Thompson said the state’s education system needs help, and that the state must stop throwing money at education’s problems and instead fund the solutions.
To learn more about the candidates, visit www.markmiloscia.com or www.electmichaelthompson.com/.
Skip Priest vs. Carol Gregory
On the issue of equitable education funding, Gregory lauded the Federal Way School District’s lawsuit against the state. She pledged to work with the state’s Joint Task Force on Basic Education Finance to reform the system. As a member of that task force, Priest said he has made strides to “fund the fundamentals” in areas such as fair pay.
According to the state, the task force reviews “the definition of basic education and all current basic education funding formulas.”
The candidates were asked their views on the state’s family leave bill, which will give workers $250 a week for up to five weeks to care for a newborn or a newly-adopted child. Priest said the program has high administrative costs with no clear plan on how to implement it, though he called the bill a good idea. Gregory supports funding the bill, saying “that’s a right for families.”
Both candidates oppose a state income tax; Gregory answered the question with one word: “No.”
On the “B and O tax,” Priest said he hasn’t heard any solutions from Democrats. Gregory responded with: “This is an issue we can’t be partisan about.”
When candidates were asked the difference between them, Gregory called out Priest on his voting record, saying he opposed class-size reduction and raising teacher salaries. She said they view the role and responsibility of legislating differently, and that she’s tired of “hollow promises.” Priest fired back, saying that in 17 years of service, he has fought for quality education, environment and business climate, using the latter to pay for the first two.
To learn more about the candidates, visit http://friendsofcarolgregory.com or www.houserepublicans.wa.gov/Priest/.
Here comes the Guv
Gov. Christine Gregoire attended Wednesday’s luncheon and delivered a short speech before the candidates forum.
Among issues specific to Federal Way, Gregoire said two top priorities include bringing light rail to the city and finishing the “triangle project,” which is where Interstate 5, State Route 18 and State Route 161 converge. Gregoire also talked about Federal Way-based Weyerhaeuser Corporation, which recently cut 1,500 jobs. She said the nationwide housing market has had a “devastating effect on Weyerhaeuser,” adding that “we’re making sure they get through these troubled times.”
Gregoire, who is running for re-election in November, touted Washington state’s accomplishments and goals regarding education, job creation, transportation and the economy under her tenure. She said Western Washington is “a victim of our success” because the area’s quality of life attracts more people, which in turn generates demand for more public projects and services.
In Washington state, one out of every three jobs is tied to trading. Gregoire said the import and export markets represent Washington state’s future, and that Washington’s multibillion-dollar exports are what keeps the economy growing.
Gregoire used numbers to illustrate examples of the state’s successes. The governor said the state sits on a $750 million surplus, and added that 225,000 jobs were created in the past four years. She said Washington must continue to diversify its economy and cited the impact of “green” industries such as solar and wind power.
In a phrase directed at her election opponents, Gregoire said “we need to get the fear out of the campaign and the facts on the table.”