District 30 candidates for state Legislature faced off in three short debates Monday at Federal Way High School. The event was hosted by The Mirror and the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce.
The race for State Senate is between incumbent Democrat Tracey Eide and Federal Way School Board President Tony Moore, a Republican. Throughout the debate, Eide referred to her accomplishments on behalf of education and transportation funding for the Federal Way area. Moore often repeated the phrase “It’s not a revenue problem, it’s a spending problem” and said the Legislature spends money on “the wrong stuff.”
Education, health care and incarceration are the biggest state budget expenses. The fastest growing item in the state budget is health care, Eide said. She stressed the importance of making sure businesses could afford insurance for their employees and be able to pay the premiums.
“If we do not get this under control, it will break the bank,” she said. “Our public has grown. We have more students in schools. We have the baby boomers who need health care. We need to make sure these individuals are covered.”
In contrast, Moore said the state Legislature has made health care unaffordable.
“Businesses can’t afford it,” he said, adding that the state should forego mandates so that business and residents are “able to buy what you need.”
Eide talked about the difficulties of cutting the state budget.
“We cut over $5 billion. We consolidated boards and commissions…This is not easy,” she said, adding that “every one of us is in the same boat.”
Moore did not name specific budget cuts he would support, but he did vow to champion for fair education funding.
“We can increase public school spending, the people said that’s what they want,” Moore said. “Unfortunately, the Legislature hasn’t heard.”
In transportation and job issues, Eide credits her effort in securing $100 million for the Triangle project (I-5/SR-161/SR-18 interchange) in creating 6,000 jobs, alongside working with the local business incubator. “I walk the walk,” she said.
Moore pointed to his efforts to improve Federal Way education since joining the school board two years ago, including an academic acceleration program and the adoption of a Policy Governance model for the board.
Moore related Eide’s role as State Senate floor leader — in which all legislation passed through her — to the state’s economic crisis.
“If raising taxes were the key to our prosperity, I’d say take every dime I have. I’ve never seen socialism work,” he said. “Right now spending is unsustainable and crazy out of control. We’ve run this budget up 58 percent since 2004.”
Eide pointed to a book listing tax exemptions in Washington state that cost taxpayers money.
“We’re giving chicken bedding material a credit,” she said, referring to the book. “Half of these (exemptions) don’t even have a sunset date in them.”
Eide, a Democrat, is the Majority Floor Leader of the State Senate now serving in her third term. Website: www.re-elect-eide.com
Moore, a Republican, currently serves as president of the Federal Way School Board. Website: www.electtonymoore.com
State rep., position 1
The race for state representative position 1 is between incumbent Democrat Mark Miloscia and Republican challenger Shawn Sullivan.
Both candidates said taxes are not the answer to solving the state’s fiscal crisis. Sullivan repeatedly vowed not to increase taxes, and at one point, Miloscia responded to such an inquiry with “I’ll never say never.”
Miloscia consistently said the key to reforming government is to address the root causes of an “unsustainable society” created by excessive spending. He is most proud of legislation he sponsored to reduce homelessness.
Sullivan said a solution to the government’s financial situation rests in a balanced approach through fiscal responsibility, hard work and bipartisan support. Sullivan said if elected, he will sponsor legislation that addresses employment security and related taxes.
Regarding a minimum wage increase in Washington, Miloscia said people’s wages are sinking toward minimum wage, and that he would support legislation that alleviated the problem. Sullivan said the state cannot afford a higher minimum wage, saying that it affects businesses and their ability to hire. Later in the debate, when the topic of initiatives surfaced, Sullivan said the initiative process “is there when people feel government is not listening to them” and said he would not overturn an initiative. However, he earlier supported overturning a minimum wage initiative supported by Miloscia.
Sullivan said the way out of the recession is through small businesses.
“We need to do what we can for small business owners,” he said.
Miloscia said the state needs to focus on getting the budget balanced in order to provide sustainable programs such as education.
“Right now, we have a crisis of conscience in Washington state government,” Miloscia said. “We need ethics and integrity in our government.”
Sullivan said Miloscia and his years in Olympia are part of the current economic problem in Washington state.
“Are you better off now than you were 12 years ago? I’m not,” Sullivan said.
Fast facts: Miloscia, a Democrat, is currently serving his sixth term in office.
Sullivan, a Republican, is making his first bid for public office. Website: www.voteshawnsullivan.com
State rep., position 2
The race for the vacant state representative position 2 is between Democrat Carol Gregory and Republican Katrina Asay. Both candidates expressed confidence in working “across the aisle” in order to accomplish their goals. Both oppose an income tax and Initiative 1098.
“Taxation by initiative is a very bad thing,” Gregory said.
Asay said if there’s a need for a new tax, it needs to go before voters.
“I do not support any new taxes at this time until this spending is under control and government goes back to the size it needs to be,” Asay said.
Asay credited her experience in delivering a balanced budget as mayor of Milton as an example of how she can help at the state level: “I’ve done it in Milton, just with a different number of zeroes on (the budget),” she said.
Both candidates agreed that education funding is a paramount duty of the state. Asay said education is not her expertise and that she would “lean on those who know education.” Education and public schools are Gregory’s priority. Gregory said her lifelong work in the education field, whether in the classroom or lobbying on behalf of schools, will be a benefit for District 30.
In regards to the state liquor privatization initiatives (I-1100 and I-1105), Asay said she had yet to make up her mind on those issues. “Right now, I don’t know if it’s in the best interest of our state to pass these laws,” Asay said.
“I oppose them,” Gregory said, noting that the initiatives are not good legislation and hurt businesses. “While some people may say we’re behind the times in this state because of the way we do business around alcohol, I frankly think it’s a benefit to us.”
Asay said that “anything that taxes a business that’s losing money has something wrong with it.” She said a goal of the Legislature should be to get rid of the Business and Occupation tax (B and O tax).
“To provide family wage jobs, you have to allow businesses to prosper,” Asay said. “For businesses to prosper, you have to get rid of the unnecessary regulations and overtaxation.”
Gregory also cited the need to reform the B and O tax: “We tax on what people make, not what people really earn. We tax on losses as well as earnings, and I think that is not healthy. It hurts our small businesses.”
Gregory said that legislators must work closely to market this state and encourage people who provide family wage jobs to come to Washington. Education for students as well as adults will provide skills for residents to “get those jobs and keep those jobs.”
Asay, a Republican, has served as mayor of Milton for seven years. Website: www.votekatrinaasay.com
Gregory, a Democrat, first ran for the state House in 2008 against Skip Priest. Website: www.friendsofcarolgregory.com