The editorial staff of The Courier-Herald will be conducting an in-paper debate between Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, and Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, the two candidates for the 31st District state Senate seat.
The debate with be published in three editions, beginning this week. The format will be questions from the editorial staff, answers with rebuttals published in the following issues, and questions from the candidates to each other.
The general election is Nov. 4. Ballots for the all-mail election will go out in mid-October and must be postmarked by Nov. 4.
Question No. 1
• The state Supreme Court ruled the Legislature is not meeting its paramount duty to fully fund education. In the 2015 two-year budget if you are elected as 31st District Senator will you support a plan to fully-fund K-12 public schools? If so, please provide details and specifics of the plan. How much money will need to be allocated for K-12? What are specific programs are you willing to see cut, if any, to balance the budget and fund schools?
Serving on the Enumclaw School Board gave me a unique perspective into the impacts that funding reductions and burdensome mandates have on our local schools and most importantly, how these directly affect all our children.
As the state representative for the 31st Legislative District, I authored legislation that would require that the Education Budget be funded first, as our state Constitution directs; in a separate budget; similar to how the state funds both the Transportation and Capital Budgets. Over the last several legislative sessions, the state faced significant budget gaps which forced cuts in education.
In 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court called for additional education funding, but it also called for spending to be paired with reforms and accountability to ensure dollars are being spent in a way that supports student achievement.
By the end of the 2013 session, as the ranking member on the House Education Committee I helped write a budget that boosted education funding by slightly over $1 billion — the first increase in years. Despite this investment, Washington still needs to make significant increases in the next biennium, around $3 billion. This lofty goal can be reached by finding a balanced approach to reforming the way we use levies for school districts, reforming teacher compensation to ensure we maintain high quality teachers and incentivizing business growth that creates jobs, as we strive to ensure our students have the best schools in our communities.
Next year, the legislature will consider a budget that will continue the progress we made last session to fully fund K-12 education. As a member of the Senate majority coalition caucus, we have a plan to dedicate any new increases in revenue to meet our obligation to fully fund education.It is worth noting that, under our parties leadership, we have prioritized investment in education over other spending choices. In fact, the majority coalition caucus spent $1.7 billion more on K-12 in its first two years, and $2.4 billion more in its first four years.To put that in context, the growth rate of education investment in the budget in the budget was three times that of non-education spending. Although not strictly part of the Supreme Court’s mandate, we have frozen college tuition rates for the first time since 1987 reversing the trend of ever increasing college costs.
In next year’s budget proposal, we will continue our focus on fully funding K-12 education.
Question No. 2
• State why you are the best fit as senator for the 31st District. What specific strengths and knowledge do you bring to the position concerning the problems facing the 31st and the state? Please state why you would be effective legislator in Olympia for the next four years.
To be effective you must work with both parties, in both chambers and with the governor. I demonstrated that I do that better than anyone else. The nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation evaluated legislatures, state by state, across the country. Based on the bipartisan nature of my legislation and the percentage signed into law, I was rated the “most effective legislator in Washington state.” The study, published in The Washington Post blog, is based on data and not biased opinion. My opponent fell far short in the ratings.
I also work with citizens here at home. I chaired the defeat of a Valley Medical annexation that would have cost families thousands of dollars in new taxes. I helped stop an unwanted roundabout on Highway 169. I am working with farmers to reduce the elk population in our farmlands. Fourteen years ago I successfully lead the effort to save Lake Tapps and I’m still working there by just having lead the effort which stopped huge Department of Ecology property takings along the lake. I fight for individuals such as Doug and Ann-Marie Stuth who almost lost their beautiful granddaughter to Department of Social and Health Services.
Conversely, as school director, my opponent lead the effort for a tri-party agreement between YarrowBay, Black Diamond and Enumclaw School District to build seven new schools in Black Diamond. Taxpayers in Enumclaw will pay thousands of dollars in increased property taxes while Enumclaw students are housed in 1960 style buildings. This, Dahlquist calls her “legacy.” I say there is another solution.
The people have trusted me the last four years to represent them in Olympia and I am humbled by the responsibility. We have many challenges here in Washington. We can fix them, only if we leave partisanship at the door and all work together.
My private sector experience as a small business owner over the last 12 years gives me a unique understanding in setting priorities. State business organizations have awarded me their highest honors for keeping jobs in Washington State. Law enforcement has recognized my work by naming me their Legislator of the Year in 2012. I have a common sense approach to problem solving, along with outstanding qualifications to represent the people. The next four years will be highly focused on how to execute the details of our constitutional requirement of funding education. After six years of service on the local school board, two years as president; the last four years in the Legislature serving on the Education Committee and two sessions as the ranking member; serving on the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee which reviews all tax incentives offered to Washington state businesses; the governor appointment to the Education Funding Task Force and the Quality Education Council. I bring the most hands-on knowledge from several different perspectives to help solve our current budget priorities as your Senator.
I promise to be the voice for the people of my district that has been missing in the Senate for too long.