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Candidates share plans for job growth

Election 2012: Governor race

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Jay Inslee

Age: 61

Occupation: Candidate for governor

Experience: Former state representative, 14th District (1989-92); former congressman 4th Congressional District (1993-95); former congressman 1st Congressional District (1999-2012) 

City of residence (and years in that city): Bainbridge Island, 17 years

Rob McKenna

Age: 50

Occupation: State Attorney General

Experience: Attorney General (2004-), King County Council (1995-2004)

City of residence (and years in that city): After my father retired from the Army, we settled in Bellevue and I have lived there since, except for three years of law school and a one-year fellowship in Japan.

Posted: Monday, October 15, 2012 2:00 pm | Updated: 2:45 pm, Mon Oct 15, 2012.

Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna

Jay Inslee

What proposals would you bring forward to spur job growth in Central Washington? 

My top priority as governor is to help create jobs for the nearly 300,000 people still out of work. I have a comprehensive jobs plan to grow key industries throughout Washington, including two industries with tremendous potential in this region — agriculture and clean energy. 

As someone who lived 18 years in Selah and raised my three sons there, I bring a unique experience of working with businesses and families on both sides of the Cascades and a deep understanding of the importance that Central and Eastern Washington play in our state’s economy.

As governor what would your role be in helping to resolve water issues in Central Washington?

I’m proud of my work in Congress to work with growers, tribes and other stakeholders to help pass the second phase of the Yakima River Basin Enhancement Act, and am fully committed to ensuring we complete phase three when I’m governor.

I know solving our water issues are crucial if we want to expand acreage for our wine grape growers and prevent huge swaths of once-productive land from withering and going bankrupt. 

The first section of my agriculture jobs plan discusses the importance of addressing the Columbia-Odessa Subarea Aquifer Project, the Walla Walla Basin and other urgent water issues.

What specific proposals do you have to ensure state funding for higher education while limiting tuition increases to students?

Our ongoing economic competitiveness depends on a growing pipeline of skilled workers. This is why I’m so focused on job creation — it’s the No. 1 thing that will most help us restore funding for critical priorities such as education. 

In addition to putting people back to work, we must implement efficiency reforms throughout state government that have helped places like King County yield substantial savings, while also addressing one of our state’s major budget-busters, health care inflation. I have specific proposals for both, and will redirect savings back into our schools and colleges. 

As someone who worked my way through college painting houses and operating bulldozers, I know how difficult even small increases in tuition can be. State support for our state colleges has already been reduced by about 40 percent in the past few years, and I will stand firm against any further reductions to higher education while we work to grow our economy and implement cost-saving reforms.

Rob McKenna

What proposals would you bring forward to spur job growth in Central Washington?

As a candidate, I have listened to small business owners about what they need to grow and hire. Last year I organized 14 small business roundtables around the state to learn the barriers facing small businesses. We need to provide small business tax relief, simplify the “red tape” government imposes, and change attitudes in Olympia, starting with the Department of Labor and Industries. 

Our farmers, too, need regulatory certainty, a stable labor force, and an efficient, rational water permitting process.

As governor what would your role be in helping to resolve water issues in Central Washington?

Washington’s farms need stable water supplies and a reasonable regulatory system to ensure those rights. Instead, they face a clunky, convoluted system that is expensive and creates disincentives for conservation efforts.

It’s time to modify the “use-it-or-lose-it” approach. Under state law, water rights must be fully used, or they revert back to the state for nonuse.

In years of low water when supplies are rationed, farmers who are efficient and use less can leave themselves vulnerable for future needs. That’s not right. Let’s work together to change the state’s “use-it-or-lose-it” relinquishment law to support conservation efforts and allow irrigators to use less of their water rights without fear of losing the portion they don’t use. 

It’s also time to make real progress on water storage in the Yakima River Basin, based on the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan, to benefit our farms and the environment. As the state and the federal government move toward a solution with broad consensus to address both conservation and storage, we need a concerted, coordinated effort between the governor’s office and our congressional delegation to move this project forward.

What specific proposals do you have to ensure state funding for higher education while limiting tuition increases to students?

We need to end the erosion in state support for our universities and return to funding levels that are fairer for students and parents, provide more stability for college and university budgets, and increase access for in-state students. Devoting just 8 percent of the state general fund budget to higher education is simply unacceptable. Just 20 years ago, more than twice that amount was dedicated to higher education in the state budget. This erosion of support occurred over a generation, so it will take time to restore the state’s commitment to higher education, but that is what I will do as governor.

As the economy grows, and the state budget grows along with it, we must steadily boost the percentage of the budget devoted to higher education. Education at all levels is the state’s top responsibility. As governor, I will have the discipline to direct the largest share of budget growth to fully funding our schools. Students and families are paying more than ever before to attend a state school. As state support of higher education grows, that ratio should be brought back down through stabilized tuition rates. As governor, I want to return to a 50/50 deal with our university students, such as when I attended the UW, where the state covers half the cost of a college education while students and their families pick up the other half. Funding isn’t just about finances. It’s about the state acknowledging that everyone benefits from a skilled and educated workforce and understanding that every kid should get the opportunity to attend college.


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