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Dennis Box

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The Courier-Herald

Have a meeting and they will come.

Legislators from the 31st District sponsored a town hall meeting Thursday at the Bonney Lake Senior Center and nearly 40 people showed up with a potpourri of political questions.

Rep. Jan Shabro, R-Lake Tapps, Rep. Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake and Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, spent more than two hours discussing their actions and predicting the political end game to this year's legislative session.

High on everyone's list was education issues, the economy and a certain $1.6 billion budget hole that the Legislature must fill before going home.

"Education and jobs are always big issues," Rep. Roach said. "Especially as we are coming out of a recession. I'm not sure we are out of the woods yet, but I think we are on the way out."

Shabro, a member of the transportation committee, said without a good transportation network, the state's economy cannot prosper.

"We are starting to see some improvements from the 5 cents gas tax," Shabro said. "Hopefully we will to see more improvements this year."

Sen. Roach railed against the Democrats' handling of election reform. She is a strong supporter of photo identification at the poles and other election reforms.

"You can't open a checking account without photo ID," Roach said. "I've tried very hard to get this into a bill."

Roach also disagreed with Senate Bill 6078, which would alter the way the state-spending limit is set based on Initiative 601.

The bill would change the spending limit calculation from population growth and inflation to growth in personal income.

"All three legs of the stool are run by one party," Roach said. "That leaves the door open for tax increase."

Roach said another big issue is allowing the state auditor to conduct performance audits. She noted the Democrats are against her bill, SB 6076, because it would take power from the governor.

Questions covered tax issues including instituting a state income tax.

"I don't support a state income tax because the people don't support it," Sen. Roach said.

Rep. Roach pointed out a state income tax would require a constitutional amendment that would go before the people for ratification.

"The political reality is voters will not support an income tax," Rep. Roach said. "The problem is spending. Until we get a hold on spending we will continue to have (budget) problems."

A resident questioned the legislators about offshore outsourcing of jobs. The man lost his job and has been having trouble finding another.

Sen. Roach said she recognized the problem when she traveled recently to Korea and saw Boeing part being manufactured.

"Its a major problem in America," Roach said. "We are dependent on so many things, I don't know all the answers."

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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