DURING A RECENT Rotary Club Candidate Forum, the 45th Legislative District Republican House of Representatives candidate Joel Hussey was asked, along with the other candidates, “What specific spending cuts would you make to balance our state budget?” And what was Hussey’s response? Nothing. Literally. He didn’t answer the question.
The two main sources of our state spending are education and mandatory Medicaid, which is spending that provides healthcare for low income seniors. The state currently has allotted $11.49 billion for education and $2.33 billion for mandatory Medicaid. That means that to make any meaningful dent in our budget’s shortfall without increasing taxes, sizable spending cuts would have to be made to either or both of these two sources.
But Hussey has already promised (1) to not generate new income with a tax increase and (2) to fully fund education. He can’t have it both ways: he can’t not raise taxes and also not make any cuts to education. And this is likely why he refused to answer the question of which cuts he would make when it was posed. He knew the answer was not one his supporters wanted to hear.
Times are tough and our Legislature has responded in kind. According to Washington’s Office of Financial Management, since late 2008, the state has already cut current and projected spending by more than $11 billion to offset revenue declines. If we are to fund the things we want – education for example – then we will need to have an adult conversation about raising revenue. We cannot have a party in our state legislature who simply refuses – on principle – to consider responsible ways to increase taxes.
Our most vulnerable citizens (children and seniors) to which we have the greatest responsibility are on the chopping block-and yet the deficit hawks like Hussey flippantly claim we can fund education and provide for seniors simply by tightening our belts. It's not true and the silence of Hussey when asked which cuts should be made directly spoke volumes.
Also during that same Candidate Forum, Hussey expressed his firm rejection of Referendum 74 – the Marriage Equality referendum. That we are even having a debate over whether same-sex couples should be allowed the right to marry baffles me.
Same-sex couples are our friends, our neighbors, and our family members. Why on earth would we want to deem them second-class citizens and deny them the ability to publically acknowledge their loving commitment in the same way that opposite-sex couples are able? The answer can only be that those who oppose Marriage Equality are motivated by dark intentions, intentions that are called hate.
History has repeatedly proven that the wheels of change are greased to turn toward, not away from, equality. So, with the election so close, if you’ve not yet cast your vote, then do so for Roger Goodman: a proven leader who favors equality and who favors a responsible approach to our budget issues.
Trent Latta is an attorney and Kirkland resident. He can be contacted at TrentLatta@gmail.com.