Saying Goodbye to a National Leader
This past week, family, friends and colleagues from both state and U.S. politics celebrated the life of Former House Speaker Tom Foley, who recently passed away at age 84 of complications surrounding a stroke.
As a young man growing up in Speaker Foley’s district, I remember visiting the Congressman and was impacted deeply by the kindness, respect and professionalism he and his staff showed during my visit. He will be deeply missed and, while I didn’t always agree with his politics, I respected his leadership.
Let’s End Gridlock—in Olympia and on Washington’s Highways
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus has wrapped up a series of feedback forums to listen and assess the transportation priorities of concerned citizens around the state. The common thread we’ve heard is that people do not want increased prices at the pump to pay for transportation projects that should instead be funded by smarter allocation of our state’s current resources.
The Majority Coalition Caucus stands by its “fix it before fund it” platform when it comes to transportation. Here are just a few examples of how we can accomplish this:
- We should allocate $400 million dollars of funds for transportation that are currently being deposited into the state’s general fund and spent on non-transportation purposes. The funds originated from the sales tax paid by the state on materials used in road projects. Let’s keep funds where they belong.
- Currently, we spend about $40 million annually to handle and treat stormwater runoff from state roadways. Why not use available money already set aside for addressing polluted water? These substantial resources have been funded by a hazardous-substance tax approved by voters nearly 25 years ago.
- A simple streamlining of the environmental permitting process will reduce costs and timelines significantly—without reducing environmental impacts. A prime example is the I-5 Skagit River Ridge replacement, which was up and running in just one month. Why not apply the same process to future transportation projects?
I articulated these solutions in more detail in a recent article published in the Spokesman Review.
Members of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus have had their ears to the ground and have responded with a list of viable options to address our state’s critical transportation issues without reaching deeper into citizens’ pockets. A full list of transportation reform ideas can be found at www.transpowashington.com.
California Billionaire Backs Schlicher in 26th District
As the November 5 election ends just next week, I want to call your attention again to the critical legislative battle in the 26th District. The race pits House Representative Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) against Democrat Nathan Schlicher (D-Gig Harbor). Schlicher was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Derek Kilmer, who was elected to Congress in 2012.
Although Representative Angel won the primary election decidedly, she’s facing a tough battle in what is now the single-most costly legislative race in Washington State, thanks in large part to California billionaire Tom Steyer.
Steyer, who made his money as an oil profiteer and Wall Street speculator, has made a name for himself in a couple key Democratic elections and ballot initiatives around the country. He’s already spent a whopping $455,000 for Schlicher and dumped an additional $3 million into a political action committee. The money came in four days after the Public Disclosure Commission’s (PDC) deadline for big campaign contributions—rendering it inapplicable to Schlicher’s campaign.
Time will tell what Steyer’s interest is in Washington State and how all of his unprecedented donations, overshadowing any interest group in the state, will be spent. That’s the kind of threatening politics that could quickly change the political tenor in Olympia—and not for the better.
Education & Industry Honors
Lastly, Washington State University’s Associated Student Body recently honored me with the Champion of Higher Education Award. I firmly believe higher education is a critical component of Washington’s successful future and I am humbled to receive this honor.
I was also recently honored by the Washington Auctioneer’s Association as Legislator of the Year, for my work to keep sales at farm auctions from being taxed. Particularly critical to the 9th District, our agricultural community has struggled enough in our challenging economy—we do not need to increase their tax burden!
I consider it a high priority to help protect and safeguard Washington’s vital higher education system and agricultural community.
As always, I am ready to hear from you. Let me know how I can best serve you.