On the Issues
We enjoy a high quality of life in all of Washington, but especially here in Eastern Washington. Whether we farm, build, teach, sell, manufacture, provide health care, move products or offer a service, we add to the healthy economy of the 9th District. Our campaign focuses on four key issues that are critical to the 9th.
Now more than ever, job creation is on everyone’s mind. In Spokane County alone, the unemployment rate for May was 9.1%. When considering ANY legislation, the Washington Legislature has an obligation to determine its impact on our job creators. Agencies, as well, must write and administer regulations that adhere only to the intent of the law and not expand beyond it. One concern I hear repeated throughout the district is that given a federal law, state agencies regulate BEYOND what that federal law demands. There’s no question that we want our water, our soil and our air to be clean, but a “command and control” regulatory scheme hurts our economy and doesn’t give credit to our resource managers for the outstanding efforts they’re currently makings.
In recent years, our state’s operating budgets have raised warning signals. We struggle with budget shortfalls and resist reining in government. As we work together to solve this, we can use the four basic questions posed by those who were challenged in 2003:
- What are the results citizens expect from government?
- What strategies are most effective in achieving those results?
- How should we prioritize spending to buy the activities that are most critical to implementing these strategies?
- How will we measure progress?
By prioritizing expectations from our state government, we are involving the public and have a mechanism to keep the public informed. This process was successful in 2003 and can be used in every budget-writing year.
Agriculture is the foundation of the economy in our District. With a variety of dry land and irrigated farms, we’re one of the most productive growing regions in the world. Cow-calf and feeder operations and food crop storage and processing add to our ability to export billions of dollars in agricultural products every year. Wheat, potatoes and cattle are third, fourth and fifth in the value of Washington crops produced behind apples and milk. A healthy export market is critical to our agricultural interests, and that means a viable transportation system of roads, rail and the Lower Snake and Columbia River System. Our hydro-electric dams not only provide the ability to move commodities, they also provide clean, renewable energy, recreational opportunities, making them vital to life in our region.
Education for all, whether it’s skills-based or academic, is important to our success. Washington’s competitiveness depends on well-educated and technically competent citizens. Our parents and patrons understand the value of education. School levies enjoy broad support. Levy equalization is critical to our schools in the 9th District and must be protected. We need to encourage policies that support additional enrollment of Washington students, at both state and independent institutions, in high demand programs that are significant to our state’s economic growth, as well as advance investments in research at our state’s research universities.