41st Legislative District candidates answer questions
October 12, 2010
Voters in the 41st Legislative District will decide a pair of state House of Representatives races and a state Senate contest next month. Here, the candidates discuss a variety of local and state issues in 25 words or fewer. (Senate candidate Steve Litzow did not respond.)
Incumbent Democrat Marcie Maxwell faces Republican Peter Dunbar for the Position 1 House seat. Incumbent Democrat Judy Clibborn is running against Republican Stephen Strader for the Position 2 seat. Appointed Sen. Randy Gordon, a Democrat, faces Republican Litzow in the race for a seat in the upper chamber.
Government should be fiscally responsible. What does that mean to you?
Maxwell: Valuing people, businesses, and organizations who enhance our quality of life in local communities, government provides education and essential services with efficiency and accountability.
Dunbar: State government doesn’t have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. If families don’t have money, they spend less. Government should do the same.
Clibborn: Taking care of the public dollar for the best outcome of public services and prioritizing what those services should be. Stewardship and accountability.
Strader: Government has a responsibility to be as cost-effective as possible while implementing optimal long-term solutions. Further, taxes should be simple, balanced and limited.
Gordon: Fiscal responsibility — making the government live within its means, while protecting things we hold dear: education, public safety and the lifeline of essential services.
What are the biggest cost cuts you would make to help balance the state budget?
Maxwell: I will look forward to the consideration of difficult and thoughtful discussions of cuts and revenues as the 2011 session begins.
Dunbar: Before making cuts we need to refer to the priorities of government and identify duplicate programs and redundant programs.
Clibborn: Healthcare and opening the contracts with state employees.
Strader: By funding the essential services of government, sticking to the priorities of government, we’ll be able to balance the state budget.
Gordon: I will close special interest loopholes in the form of tax preferences that do not serve the public.
What are the top two taxes you would consider to balance the state budget?
Maxwell: I will look forward to the consideration of difficult and thoughtful discussions cuts and revenues as the 2011 session begins.
Dunbar: None. This is a major difference between my position and my opponent’s record.
Clibborn: I thought the taxes we passed that were discretionary were OK, even though I would have preferred a slight sales tax increase.
Strader: We don’t have a revenue problem, we do have a spending problem.
Gordon: This question depends on the outcome of the forthcoming election. Generally, the state budget must be balanced under the Constitution, first cutting costs, then closing loopholes.
What steps will your own legislative office take to cut costs for the state?
Maxwell: I did not accept per diem travel and meal costs during the last 30-day special session, and will continue my commitment to cost efficiency.
Dunbar: Utilize social media, local newspapers and electronic means (e-mail) as often as possible to communicate with constituents — saving taxpayer postage and printing.
Clibborn: I’ve cut travel to nothing and supported furloughs for staff. I’ll support changes in contracts opened in this emergency to change healthcare and freeze raises.
Strader: My office will operate at minimum staffing and expense levels respecting the faith of the people of Washington.
Gordon: I waived my per diem and travel allowance for the special session; my legislative assistant was furloughed; we use e-mail communications in lieu of mail.
What can Washington do to attract businesses to expand or relocate here? Be specific.
Maxwell: Support high tech, aerospace, biomedical and sectors that bring jobs to region. Strong commitment to education, high demand degrees, research universities and growing future workforce.
Dunbar: Provide stability in our state spending, stop raising taxes on our existing businesses.
Clibborn: Consistent tax fairness in B&O and workman’s compensation. Mobility — good transportation for commuters, freight and rail. Good quality of life — education support K-16.
Strader: We need to make it easier — not harder — for businesses to employ workers. Fixing workers compensation and unemployment insurance will help make Washington competitive.
Gordon: Insource capital projects, eliminate fake apprenticeships, reduce unnecessary regulation, incentivize innovation, fund education and vocational training, support local infrastructure and revitalization, tax reform.
What, if anything, can the state do to spur job creation?
Maxwell: Work to streamline state regulations that burden small businesses, find ways to lessen the burden of B&O tax on gross receipts, encourage credit availability.
Dunbar: Support our local employers and get out of their way to make long-term investments in our state.
Clibborn: Invest in transportation/infrastructure. Not just building roads but attracting jobs. Link every project to keeping business here or adding one. Cut red tape in permitting.
Strader: Government provides the framework within which businesses operate. High taxes and expansive regulations consume resources that could be spent in building businesses and creating jobs.
Gordon: Same as above.
What adjustments would you make to the state’s minimum wage laws?
Maxwell: Families who make a living wage support businesses who needs consumers for their goods and services.
Strader: A high minimum wage hurts teenagers the most. A lower minimum wage would encourage business to provide training opportunities for our youth.
Gordon: None at this time, but ultimately, it makes sense to index minimum wage to cost of living increases.
What specific human services programs should be protected as the state tackles its budget shortfall?
Maxwell: Protect our state’s most vulnerable citizens. Support readiness to learn as kids need to arrive at our schools healthy and nurtured for learning success.
Dunbar: Those essential services to our most vulnerable and senior citizens.
Clibborn: Preventative care makes more sense; we find that hard when funding is in crisis. Children’s services/mental health make huge savings later, in schools/safety costs.
Strader: All agencies can benefit by appropriate auditing and streamlining of operations. We should ensure that cuts are made strategically.
Gordon: Case-by-case analysis of cost-effective programs essential to keep our promises and avoid false economies such as Thrive-by-Five, ECEAP, Working Connections, etc.
What will you do to help community nonprofits secure funding for human services?
Maxwell: Encourage efficiency, cooperation and nonduplication of services among nonprofits in region. Speaking up about potential human services local government funding losses from the liquor initiatives.
Dunbar: Support efforts where nonprofits fulfill a necessary and vital role at a cost-savings to the taxpayers.
Clibborn: Most human services are local/need local support. We won’t pass new taxes so I don’t see any course except the private sector to get involved.
Strader: By reining in state spending, businesses and individuals will have more income to support charities that they believe in.
Gordon: I will make sure that budget cuts do not result in “false economies” that simply shift the burden onto working families.
What is the top environmental concern in the 41st Legislative District and how do you plan to address the issue?
Maxwell: Polluted surface water runoff that gets into our storm water drains, streams and the Puget Sound needs to be addressed by the sources.
Dunbar: Nonpoint source run-off damaging natural waterways that all drain into Lake Washington.
Clibborn: The biggest issue in the whole Puget Sound basin is the cleanup of the sound. Storm water is a big cause in our district.
Strader: This district cares deeply about the environment. We need to fix our budget problems so that, as a Legislature, we can tackle these issues.
Gordon: Conservation, water quality, surface water runoff, clean energy, climate change. Hazardous waste tax authorization to fund cleanup and guard against Gulf disasters in our region.
What is the best way to fund and upgrade state parks?
Maxwell: In 2009, we improved state parks funding by putting a $5 opt-out fee in place with license renewals to support state parks.
Dunbar: Right now our focus must be on essential services: education, public safety and infrastructure.
Clibborn: User fees will have to be a bigger player. Underlying state budgets may never return to the past levels and we will become more pressured to identify core services.
Strader: State spending has grown much faster than our population or inflation. By returning to the priorities of government, we’ll be able to fund state concerns.
Gordon: A dedicated source of ample and stable funding is preferable to user fees that disadvantage users and discourage use.
How can the public education system be improved, given the funding constraints?
Maxwell: I’ve led work for major basic education reform and funding legislation that must continue forward, including schools accountability/attracting university students to math/science teaching.
Dunbar: Focus on outcomes and measurable benchmarks. Increase accountability, give parents choice of schools and information to educate the decision. Prioritize classroom funding first.
Clibborn: We can only make sure we are doing the best to meet the funding standards set forth by the Legislature in the past two years.
Strader: We need to protect the education mission instead of the system. We need to reform the public school systems’ structure and revamp teachers’ pay.
Gordon: Multidimensional measures of student performance, combined with effective feedback and teacher support, small class size and individuated instruction.
What can you do as a lawmaker to help Bellevue College open a campus in Issaquah?
Maxwell: I have worked directly with Bellevue College in legislative action to bring four-year degree programs to East King County.
Dunbar: Continue to be a strong supporter of higher education and do what I can to be a strong advocate on their behalf in Olympia.
Clibborn: Expansion of anything in this economic environment is a problem. Capital funds are low and have been swept to balance the general fund for two years.
Strader: We need to allow Washington’s college and universities to operate more competitively. Reducing the legal restrictions will enable more accessible education.
Gordon: I won millions in capital budget allocations for construction projects for Bellevue College and Renton Tech. I will work with Bellevue College and Issaquah to help.
How do you or will you foster bipartisanship in Olympia?
Maxwell: I am an active leader in the House Education Caucus, which works successfully bipartisan.
Dunbar: Restore the two-thirds requirement needed for the Legislature to raise taxes, forcing majority parties to work across the aisle to prioritize spending and cuts.
Clibborn: In transportation I try to involve everyone in selecting projects and policy for the state. When possible I’ve voted with a bipartisan group on issues.
Strader: Labels are irrelevant when providing the best service to Washington state. As a project manager, I successfully bring people together for the common goal.
Gordon: As a mediator, I will continue to build bridges of common interest as I did with the state constitutional amendment (passed unanimously) and supplemental transit.
What is your position on state income tax Initiative 1098 on the November ballot?
Maxwell: I’m not certain that this is the right mechanism and the right time for such an initiative.
Dunbar: Unlike my opponent, I strongly oppose. Washington doesn’t need an income tax, we need to get our spending under control.
Clibborn: I am glad people will get a chance to vote on it. I will be voting no because of the impacts it has on sub-S corporations.
Strader: Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. An income tax will only add to the reasons why small businesses will leave the state.
Gordon: State senators are prohibited from using state funds to advocate for or against an initiative to the people. I will support the people’s decision.
Is this the right time for the state to get out of the liquor business? Why or why not?
Maxwell: Yes, and I voted to privatize 30 liquor stores. However, the liquor initiatives on the ballot may not be the right mechanisms to do so and pose difficulties for other businesses, organizations, and city budgets.
Dunbar: Yes. It is more efficient and provides cost savings to the state and consumer it is the right time. The state will still tax the liquor as before.
Clibborn: This is not a core service. However, I do not like the initiatives because they impact the taxes.
Strader: Privatizing liquor sales will allow for competition in the market and more importantly remove government from a nongovernmental function.
Gordon: No. Liquor is currently a profit center creating living wage jobs; to increase profits, you must increase sales. Privatization involves increased enforcement costs.
Should the state be challenging federal healthcare legislation?
Maxwell: No, we should not challenge it. We should work for its best practices in implementation and to improve this federal legislation in the future.
Dunbar: The federal healthcare legislation is a huge and complicated piece of legislation that will increase costs to states. I support Attorney General McKenna’s efforts.
Clibborn: No. It is the future. The state cannot do this job.
Strader: The attorney general has a responsibility to act in the interest of Washingtonians.
Gordon: This is an attorney general decision not before me as a legislator. I am concerned as to this suit being an unnecessary cost.
What can Washington do to make prescription drugs more affordable?
Maxwell: Use purchasing power, consider some generic drug use, discourage overuse or excessive quantities.
Dunbar: Encourage the use of generic substitution wherever possible and increase pricing transparency so that doctors and patients understand the cost benefit.
Clibborn: Let the federal program take the lead. The efforts underway already in our state to help pay for the “doughnut hole” and bulk buying can be done.
Strader: We need to fix the “dispense as written” provision of SB 6088 and allow for faster approval of drugs.
Gordon: On federal (Medicare) and State level, authorize and incentivize bargaining groups to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on pricing and promote generic alternatives.