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Q&A: Candidates for 40th District House, Position 2
Jeff Morris and John Swapp are candidates for the 40th District state House of Representatives, Position 2, on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Earlier in the campaign, The Journal asked them these questions:
1. Friday Harbor and San Juan County have cut staffing, reduced services, and implemented unpaid furloughs to balance their budgets. What new revenue sources are available to local governments?
2. In what ways can the state Legislature further reduce state spending, increase state revenues, and ensure adequate levels of public services?
3. Washington State Ferries has been beset by financial and management problems. What are your recommendations for solving those problems?
4. Education funding: What are your recommendations for ensuring the Legislature meets its constitutional obligation to adequately fund public education?
5. What would be your top three priorities as a state representative?
Here are their answers.
Name: JEFF MORRIS
Web site: www.morriscampaign.com
Residence: Mount Vernon
Occupation: Member, state House of Representatives, 40th District, Position 2; owner/principal, Energy Horizon LLC
Education: BA, Central Washington University
Answer No. 1: This past session, we allowed Cities to seek voter approval to impose the public safety sales and use tax at a rate not to exceed 0.1 percent and allowed local gambling revenue to be used for general public safety programs. We need to put more tools in the local government tool box.
Answer No. 2: We need to go back to the Price of Government budgeting we did under Gov. Locke. Under that model, every agency would prioritize its services and if the top 10 fit into their allocated amount of money, they would deliver them and drop the rest. Our debate in the Legislature surrounded the prioritizing of the list and the appropriate allocation of money to each agency. We performed better as a State under this system.
I have been a consistent advocate of functional delivery of IT services and other universal need services because it saves money. For example, central or functional delivery of IT services would conservatively save us a $250 million per year, but I believe it saves us much more.
I am currently working on developing Prime Directives for our budget decisions that would, for example, protect state employees that provide face-to-face service, while putting other positions on the table for debate. This would mean cutting overhead/management before closing the Friday Harbor Department of Licensing.
Answer No. 3: Just last week, Rep. Christine Rolfes of Bremerton and I were put in charge of developing a path out of this swamp. I have fought, fought and fought the WSF management for years on reforms, many of which they have accepted after 10 years of engagement. My recommendations are as follows:
— We need to restore funding for the WSF capitol budget to bring planning predictability back.
— We need to move toward the U.S. Government National Laboratory model and contract the management of the ferry service to the private sector, putting it back up for procurement every six years.
— We need to get the new 144-car boats in the water, which would save us fuel and crewing costs that currently impact ferry fares. The Supers running in the islands are fuel and man-hour hogs.
Answer No. 4: Our greatest challenge has been reconciling several spending or tax reduction initiatives that pass on the ballot each year. A constitutional amendment that would make initiatives balance the budget with cuts or taxes they propose would go a long ways toward protecting K-12 funding.
Answer No. 5:
— Get the ferry service functional again.
— Follow-through on K-12 school reform and funding.
— Continue streamlining our education and tax policies. Washington is leading the other 50 states out of the recession, so we need to continue streamlining our education and tax policies with the jobs we are actually creating here. Hiring people for these jobs is critical. As a leader in technology policy, I can tell you that we are not filling the jobs we are creating with citizens already living here in Washington State.
* * *
Name: JOHN SWAPP
Web site: www.johnswapp2010.com
Residence: Decatur Island, Wash.
Occupation: Business owner
Education: Western Washington University, BS in Manufacturing Engineering Technology
Answer No. 1: These moves by local governments are similar to the moves made by individuals and small business owners as they have responded to the failing economy. With our economy having been badly damaged, we realistically need to look for cuts in government spending in virtually every department. As we have seen many times in our history, reducing taxes and regulations in the business community stimulates economic growth, resulting in increased revenue collection. Increasing taxes at this point would only stifle job creation and economic growth.
Answer No. 2: The State Legislature will need to look closely at every budget line item that has grown in the last eight years in order to see what cuts we must make to get State spending back in line with what the people can afford to pay. We must do this while preserving the most important government services such as police and fire protection and education.
Answer No. 3: When you operate complicated machinery in a saltwater environment, you can’t safely cut costs in the area of maintenance. We should look closely at the growth in administration staffing we’ve seen over the last decade and make our cost cuts there.
Answer No. 4: The money spent on education has grown every year, yet about one-third of our students don’t finish high school and many others need remedial math and science classes when entering college. Our education system is among the poorest-performing in the nation yet also one of the most expensive. Clearly, the problem lies in the massive and expensive bureaucracy, not in a lack of funding. Only 46 percent of employees are actually classroom teachers, and the Legislature keeps setting aside voter-approved initiatives to lower class size. The priority should be to help the classroom teachers, not unfunded mandates from the federal government.
Answer No. 5: Top priorities will be:
— Get state spending back in line with state income, just like we all have to do as individuals.
— Create a business environment that will promote the creation of jobs. This will involve easing regulations, reducing taxes and allowing private businesses to compete in supplying industrial insurance.
— Follow the clear intent of the voters to require a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to increase taxes.