Crosscut asked a number of state legislators to tell us what they most hope to achieve during the 2014 legislative session. These are lawmakers who'll be dealing with key issues such as education, transportation and the budget. With Gov. Jay Inslee having delivered his State of the State address to the legislature on Tuesday, here are thoughts from the peanut power gallery.
Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, House Minority Floor Leader
After what we’ve been through with the Boeing 777X, it's critical that we diversify our economy and improve conditions for all employers so that we are never so dependent on single employers or sectors in the future.
Additionally, what I’d like for this session is a secret decoder ring: When Gov. Inslee says we need a “discussion” about our “jalopy” of an “antiquated” tax system to address “revenues that are necessary to educate our children,” is he really and truly interested in tax and education reform, or does he just want more money for more government spending?
Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, House Transportation chair
Washington is a state that depends, both nationally and internationally, on trade. As we reflect on 2013 and look forward to 2014, it is fitting that what I most want to achieve this legislative session is what I spent all last year working on: an investment package that makes our transportation system safer, more efficient and more reliable for all.
I hope that the Senate will take action early in the session to pass their transportation proposal so that our negotiations can resume. Washington’s economy can be so much stronger and more vibrant for our businesses and our working families, but only if we all have the courage and vision to move forward on this issue.
Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, Senate Minority Leader
With Sen. Rodney Tom and the Republican Majority in control of the Washington State Senate, we have seen critical and beneficial legislation stalled time and time again. The transportation package — stalled. The Reproductive Parity Act (RPA) — stalled. The Dream Act — stalled. The Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act — stalled.
Washingtonians have made it very clear that these are priorities, and yet Senate Majority Leader Tom and his Republican colleagues have refused to allow these crucial pieces of legislation to even receive a vote. We must put people before party and power. I call on my colleagues in the Republican-controlled majority to work with us to pass these crucial pieces of legislation, and get Washington moving forward again.
Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, Senate Transportation Committee co-chair
The Majority Coalition Caucus transportation proposal centers on reasonable, common-sense reforms to the state transportation system in order to make it more efficient, more effective and less costly. If citizens are going to accept a gas tax increase, it’s imperative that the state shows it will be responsible stewards of their hard-earned tax dollars and address problems in such a way that will be of major economic benefit.
Additionally, a recent Crosscut article claimed that our Majority Coalition Caucus transportation package was “larded with retro thinking (roads, roads, roads).” The state has long neglected its road maintenance and operation costs and our proposal addresses that, however it also contains nearly $1.5 billion in local options to be used exclusively for transit. Under our proposal, King County could implement a 1.5 percent MVET, extend its congestion relief charge, and Snohomish County could increase its sales tax by three-tenths of a percent to generate the $1.5 billion. When’s the last time that much money was spent strictly on transit?
As the co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, it is my duty to find ways to address transportation problems all around the state in a fair and equitable manner for everyone. Nearly every project in the MCC proposal includes a transit, bike or pedestrian component, as well as being of high significance to the state’s economy. That means more jobs and a better quality of life for everyone, and that’s my highest priority for the 2014 legislative session.
Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, Finance Committee chair
My goal as Finance Committee chair is to elevate the level of analytical, financial and intellectual rigor of our tax policy to match that of our budgeting.
Since 1972, Washington has been a national leader in public disclosure and transparency of government, campaign finance, lobbying, state budget process and public access to information. Amazingly, that transparency does not extend to our tax code with nearly 700 tax preferences, rates and benefits, most of which are hidden from public view. HB 2201, crafted from best practices of leading states and open government think tanks, would modernize Washington's tax reporting and disclosure laws to enable legislators, audit committees, media and corporate and citizen activists to openly assess the efficacy of our state's 700 tax preferences and publicly determine whether they are working.
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All photos by John Stang.