45th District candidates spar on variety of issues
October 26, 2012 · 3:56 PM
By Raechel Dawson
Candidates from the 45th Legislative District participated in a voters’ forum Oct. 15 at the Woodmark Hotel with debate on their paramount duty – how to adequately fund education during the next biennium.
The event was hosted by the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary of Kirkland. Also at the forum were candidates from the 48th District.
About 50 attendees attended the forum which featured incumbent Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) and Republican Joel Hussey of Redmond for Position 1, and incumbent Rep. Larry Springer (D-Kirkland) and Republican Jim Thatcher of Redmond for Position 2.
Education drew questions and the attention of many of the candidates because of a decision last January by the Washington State Supreme Court – McCleary v. State – which determined that the Legislature was not fully funding education.
“It is our paramount duty to fund education first. Government is larger than we can currently afford,” Thatcher said. “Once we’ve funded schools, then we can take money to fund other programs.”
The Legislature is looking at an additional $4.1 billion that Randy Dorn, superintendent of public instruction, requested for the 2013-2015 biennial budget.
In last year’s McCleary decision, the state Supreme Court ordered the state to achieve full state funding of basic education by 2018.
Springer noted that the $4.1 billion has to come from somewhere and that legislators need to work together in bipartisanship or they won’t be “getting out of this mess.”
When the audience asked what funding candidates would cut as a way to come up with the $4.1 billion for education, Springer, although adamantly in favor of higher education, said funds would be taken from higher education or human services because they are the two “biggest expenses.”
“Higher education is the vehicle to getting out of poverty,” he said. “We need to build upon it, not cut (it).”
While all agreed on the benefit of charter schools, Goodman pointed out that the current initiative (I-1240) to bring charter schools to Washington doesn’t have much public accountability and he was concerned about the measure’s lack of school boards.
“They only do better by 17 percent,” he added.
One woman asked if the candidates supported Referendum 74 that would legalize same-sex marriage. Democrats Goodman and Springer raised their hands in approval, while Republicans Hussey and Thatcher did not.
Raechel Dawson is a staff writer for the Kirkland Reporter. She can be contacted at 25-822-9166 X5050.