Joel Hussey Wants to Cut Benefits and Pensions

During a recent event with supporters, Joel Hussey confirmed his commitment to slashing teacher and firefighter pensions and health benefits if elected.


THERE IS ONE WAY to make sure firefighters and teachers know they are valued: maintain their healthcare benefits and pensions.  But Joel Hussey, the Republican candidate for the 45th Legislative District’s House of Representatives Position 1, would have none of that if elected.  These necessities – health benefits and pensions – are luxury items, according to Hussey, that must go.

Hussey spoke during a recent neighborhood meeting about how public sector employees are merely a drain on Washington State’s budget. During the gathering (which was recorded and posted to YouTube), Hussey proclaimed that, if elected, he would slash firefighters’ and teachers’ pensions and health benefits.  These public employees, according to Hussey, have had it too good for too long.  

These public sector employees are simply, in Hussey’s words, enjoying undeserved “gold-plated pensions” and “gold-plated healthcare plans.”  According to Hussey, firefighters and teachers “have a lot to lose” if he wins the election and if the Democrats lose.

While speaking with his supporters, Hussey didn’t show any empathy for the fact that teachers and firefighters depend on their pensions for retirement and depend on their healthcare plans.  To Hussey, it just doesn’t matter if those public sector employees suffer under his policies because, in his own words, he doesn’t need to buy into a pension plan because “I have a 401K.” (Don’t worry public sector employees, if elected, Joel Hussey is going to be just fine.) 

It's utterly confounding that Hussey does not give teachers and firefighters the support they deserve.  Then again, Hussey’s failure to support our public sector employees is not surprising given his background.  Hussey claims an educational prowess citing his experience serving on the Bellevue Christian School board.  But Hussey strategically omits the needed asterisk to that statement, which is that Bellevue Christian School is a private institution that is not part of Washington’s public education system.

And what’s more disturbing is that Hussey treats public sector jobs as though they are not real jobs.   Firefighters, teachers, police officers – these are essential service positions that sustain to our community.  But Hussey ignores the fact that our unemployment rate will rise if public sector employees’ jobs are cut in the same way as if private sector employees’ jobs are cut and instead Hussey wants to demote these positions to expendable dime-a-dozen resources. 

Joel Hussey’s lack of respect for Washington’s firefighters and teachers is yet another reason that Roger Goodman deserves our vote this November.  If you are a teacher or a firefighter, or if you know a teacher or a firefighter, then say NO! to Joel Hussey and say YES! to a better quality of life for our public sector employees.


Trent Latta is an attorney and Kirkland resident.  He can be contacted at TrentLatta@gmail.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Greg Johnston (Editor) October 08, 2012 at 11:33 PM
There will be another candidates' forum in Kirkland at the Woodmark Hotel Oct. 15, including all running in 45th and 48th legislative districts. http://kirkland.patch.com/articles/kirkland-rotary-sponsoring-legislative-candidates-forum-oct-15
Ken James October 09, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Here is Trent Latta, again using this as a place to post his baseless criticisms of a Republican candidate. He pretends to be dispensing information, but actually he is a Democrat political activist. He argues from a positon of politics, not based on what is best for our community. Here are some of his ridiculous statements for which he offers no substantiation: "Hussey spoke during a recent neighborhood meeting about how public sector employees are merely a drain on Washington State’s budget." Of couse they are a "drain" on government budgets... but did he really say "merely a drain". Of course not... that's Trent's way of demonizing without justification. And what does this mean: "Hussey does not give teachers and firefighters the support they deserve." ? or "Hussey treats public sector jobs as though they are not real jobs" Nothing.. Just Trent ignoring that there is a real discussion to be had, but instead merely wants to demonize any Republican candidate by assigning movtives to them which he cannot, and does not, justify with facts.
Ken James October 09, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Virtually all public sector employees are represented by a union. As union members, they pay dues and many of those dues are used to support political candidates. In many cases, those political candidates are the same people who approve the contracts for those union members. It’s a vicious cycle that results in a conflict of interest in the wage and benefits bargaining process. The hedge against overpayment for services and sensible workplace rules is eroded. The result of this problem is that we pay too much for many services and we have “negotiated” away the ability to have the type of management oversight that assures high performance from the highly paid public sector. Many cities have been bankrupted by wage and benefit contracts and pensions that union-supported politicians keep approving because they need the financial support provided by the public sector unions. Public sector jobs are essential to our society. Overpaying for public sector jobs due to the conflict of interest is lethal to our society. If Hussey has a plan to combat this problem, I'm all ears!
Gail October 09, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Well said Ken. Very good explanation of a basic problem with our public sector payment system. The more Latta writes, the more ridiculous he comes. Anyone so biased and not willing to give honest disclosure of who he is - not merely an activist but a biased Democratic chair http://wa-demchairs.org/kcdems/districts/officers.php?ld=45 - is asking to be ignored.
Penny Pfiester October 09, 2012 at 01:10 AM
You are both ignorant of facts, truth, and doing your homework! Hussey is a sensationalist seeking attention by stating untruths vs. reality. Why, would he target these important groups! I do wish you would stop the blasphemy and educate yourselves on the real system!
Ken James October 09, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Ignorant? Penny P., you can't even imagine how wrong you are. I worked in a position covered by a public sector union for many years and I was a 'union rep' for three of those years. The discussions that were had when we were at an empasse during contract negotiations would make the hair of a taxpayer curl. Sample phone call: "Hello? Councilman Smith? Just want you to know you have our full support... yes our people are out knocking on doors for you... sure, you are welcome for the campaign contribution... yes, we know you support us, and that is especially important to us now during contract negotiations when our members need that increase to cover the health plan costs... I know we can count on you to do what is right..." I could never stomach that kind of implied extortion, but for your 'die hard' union boss, it's just business as usual.
Ken James October 09, 2012 at 01:51 AM
For a case study in how public-sector unions manipulate both supply and demand, consider the example of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, the CCPOA lobbied the state government to increase California’s prison facilities — since more prisons would obviously mean more jobs for corrections officers. And between 1980 and 2000, the Golden State constructed 22 new prisons for adults (before 1980, California had only 12 such facilities). The CCPOA also pushed for the 1994 “three strikes” sentencing law, which imposed stiff penalties on repeat offenders. The prison population exploded — and, as intended, the new prisoners required more guards. The CCPOA has been no less successful in increasing members’ compensation: In 2006, the average union member made $70,000 a year, and more than $100,000 with overtime. Corrections officers can also retire with 90% of their salaries as early as age 50. Today, an amazing 11% of the state budget — more than what is spent on higher education — goes to the penal system. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed privatizing portions of the prison system to escape the unions’ grip — though his proposal was met with predictable (union supported) political opposition. From: http://ofbuckleyandbeatles.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/the-trouble-with-public-sector-unions/ with edits
Lisa Baumann (Editor) October 09, 2012 at 03:01 AM
There's also a 45th Legislative District Candidate Forum in Woodinville on Oct. 11 -All four candidates for the 45th Legislative District positions 1 and 2 of the State House of Representatives, Rep. Roger Goodman, Rep. Larry Springer, Mr. Joel Hussey and Mr. Jim Thatcher, will attend. http://woodinville.patch.com/events/45th-legislative-district-candidate-forum-for-house-pos-1and-2-95b669c9
Joel Hussey October 09, 2012 at 04:02 AM
I read with interest Mr. Latta’s entry and thought, since he never spoke with me directly, I would write in and set the record straight. Our state's economy is struggling and our jobless rate is one of the highest in the country. Although we're seeing signs of recovery in some industries, it is far from robust, and businesses struggle to grow under a burden of regulations. Yet, through one of the most difficult periods since the Great Depression, as many families dealt with layoffs, business failures and other hits to their income, the actual amount of revenue that the state collected did not drop. The State recently issued their budget forecast for the 2013-15 biennium. Despite an assumed 7.2% increase in state revenues over 2011-13, we are still facing a $1 BILLION budget deficit. This is before we address the impact of the McCleary decision and the Supreme Court's mandate to fully fund education! Spending continues to rise faster than revenues and simply raising taxes is not the solution. Washington's citizens have repeatedly voted to limit tax increases to only those passed by a 2/3 majority of the legislature, and will likely affirm this again in the upcoming election. This means that in 2013 the legislature will need to do a better job of prioritizing spending if they are to close the budget deficit and also begin to address education funding.
Joel Hussey October 09, 2012 at 04:04 AM
In the past 6 years, the solutions offered by my opponent have been to cut K-12 and higher education funding and toss out voter-approved initiatives on teacher pay and smaller classes. Those are the facts, but this is not an option for the future. As a parent, I believe that Washington's kids have paid a high enough price already. I am running to put our schools and kids first. I am a product of the Everett public school system. My father spent his entire career in public education as a teacher, librarian and principal. And my sister is a public school teacher. My experience growing up as the child of an educator, coupled with numerous conversations with public school teachers, administrators and parents, has provided deep perspective into many of the issues faced by our public education system. This perspective is further enhanced by my experience as a private school board member. I believe private schools face challenges similar to public schools in delivering a high quality education on a limited budget. We must remember that many families attending private schools make significant sacrifices to cover the additional cost of private education, because they believe it is the best education option for their children. I have great respect for teachers and the work they do with our kids. Mr. Latta said that I am only out to cut teacher pay and benefits. That's not true.
Joel Hussey October 09, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Teachers have a tough but often rewarding job and we need to provide them with the tools, classroom support and professional development they need to deliver to the kids of our state the highest quality education possible. And high-performing teachers need to be rewarded for their success in the classroom, not simply for the number of years they have been teaching. But we also need to look at the total compensation packages we offer teachers and other state employees, including salary, health and pension benefits. With regard to existing state employees, including teachers and first responders, we must follow through on promises already made. But if we're going to solve the structural spending problems faced by the state, we need to consider alternative approaches for new employees, such as transitioning from defined benefit (traditional) to defined contribution (401k type) pensions. These are not short-term, quick fixes, but they will lead to long-term budget stability. Our legislators need to start making tough decisions and yes, if required, stand up to special interests that want to perpetuate the status quo. If we continue on our current path, will our kids receive the education they deserve? I don't think so, and that's why I'm running for office. I want Washington State to be a place where our children and their education are once again our top priorities.
Tony Dondero October 09, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Trent was talking about teachers and firefighters, but you just made a good point Mr. James.
Greg Johnston (Editor) October 09, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Thank you for adding your comments Mr. Hussey. Our Local Voices blogging platform is open to all, and we'd welcome more of your thoughts, and those of any other candidate, any time. -Greg Johnston, Kirkland Patch editor. http://kirkland.patch.com/blog/apply
Ken James October 09, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Tony, this is the specific "Trent Latta Lie" that I was responding to: "Hussey spoke during a recent neighborhood meeting about how public sector employees are merely a drain on Washington State’s budget." It's the first sentence in the second paragraph. I watched the entire video of the Hussey discussion and he did NOT say the public sector is "merely a drain on Washington State's budget." Actually Hussey was describing our budget problems and offering solutions.
Tony Dondero October 09, 2012 at 05:10 AM
Do you think Trent's using a talk show host tactic to spur discussion about an issue? Maybe like a left-leaning version of Dori Monson? I think you could make a good case that everyone regardless of political affiliation cherry picks when making a point to fit their argument. Or less positive way to put that is lying by omission. He's defending his clients, like the attorney he is.
Ken James October 09, 2012 at 08:43 AM
True, people tend to select the version of the truth that best supports their argument; but especially for an attorney, you would expect truthfulness. I think it's productive to discuss the various ideologies to compare and contrast so that more information is available for those considering their alternatives, but when people intentionally misstate someone's position, as Latta does routinely, that serves no useful or honest purpose. Unfortunately its a tactic often used when one is at a loss on how to honestly promote their ideas.
Trent Latta October 09, 2012 at 04:55 PM
(1 of 4) Joel Hussey lists a lot of generalizations – taken mainly from his stump speech – in his response to this blog post. But what he does not do is striking: he does not deny the fact that, if elected, he intends to slash teacher and firefighters’ health benefits and pensions. And notably, Hussey adds that, not only are these benefits on the chopping block, but you can expect that teachers’ salaries will be cut too!
Trent Latta October 09, 2012 at 04:56 PM
(2 of 4) Hussey’s attack on teachers and firefighters shows his poor choice in budgetary priorities. Hussey claims our state’s “Spending continues to rise faster than revenues,” and his answer is to cut teachers and firefighters’ healthcare and retirement? For Hussey, it’s a matter of dollars and cents: he doesn’t care if you are a teacher that depends on your salary and healthcare for your children – he cares about a balance sheet. And Hussey doesn’t care if you are a firefighter who depends on the pension you’ve been promised – again, he cares about a balance sheet. And it’s not that our budget isn’t important: it is. But taking from teachers and firefighters is not the budgetary answer we need. And Hussey simply fails to appreciate the significance that healthcare benefits and pensions have for our public teachers and firefighters. (Don’t worry, Hussey’s gonna be just fine.)
Trent Latta October 09, 2012 at 04:56 PM
(3 of 4) Hussey’s comment also emphasizes his lack of connection to Washington’s middle-class. Hussey announces from 30,000 feet that many families make great “sacrifices to cover the additional cost of private education.” I’m sure some families do sacrifice something to pay for a private education. But for MOST families, sending their kids to private school is so far from a fiscal reality that it’s a joke. To send three kids to this year at Bellevue Christian School (where Hussey served as Board Member), it costs more than $31,030 per year! To send those three kids to four years of private high school would cost at least $124,120. That Hussey would consider private education a viable alternative for Washington’s family demonstrates his lack of regard for the real issues facing our community.
Trent Latta October 09, 2012 at 04:56 PM
(4 of 4) Finally, Hussey’s defense of his claimed educational expertise nose-dives into disappointment. Hussey dully claims that his expertise on public education issues derives from: (1) his childhood experience; and (2) his “numerous conversations with public school teachers, administrators and parents,” i.e., Hussey’s dad was a teacher and he’s talked with some people about education. Those experiences do not allow Hussey leeway to go about slashing entitlements on which teachers and fighters depend. The choice is clear: if you are a teacher or a firefighter, or know a teacher or a firefighter, or if you ever have benefited from having a teacher or a firefighter in your community, then I urge you to vote for Roger Goodman.
Ken James October 09, 2012 at 05:16 PM
The wages, pensions, and other benefits are governed by contracts with the groups that Latta mentioned. So how, as Latta claims, could Hussey or any other elected offical "slash teacher and firefighters’ health benefits and pensions". The answer is it couldn't happen except through a negotiation process. Either Latta is truly clueless about these matters, or more likely, he likes to throw out these 'strawman' issues to dishonestly influence voters. You can pick which. What Hussey, along with many other candidates has said, is that excessive compensation and pension packages will worsen the budget crisis and must be resolved. We need people to discuss solutions, not bomb throwers like Latta who uses these issues merely to politically demonize candidates who are courageous enough to tackle serious issues before Washington becomes the next California.
Gail October 09, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Trent, have you been to Greece lately? Do you understand the problem there? I don't think so. They are where they are because of exactly the sort of statements you think make fiscal sense. They do not. But once again, it's clear it only matters " If you are a teacher or a firefighter, or if you know a teacher or a firefighter,", so it's ok to vote for Joel Hussey if you had or have a mother. (FYI, the 'mother' note is just like the 'having a teacher' appeal - ridiculous)
Trent Latta October 09, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Gail, Your comment does not make much sense. But I have been following the Greece situation and one thing is clear is that the austerity measures imposed by Germany have not helped the situation. Even a cursory analysis of the lessons learned following our Great Depression reveal the problems with austerity. Indeed, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman and the economist Martin Wolf frequently criticize the irrational commitment to austerity that people like yourself (and Joel Hussey) make. I recommend reading their work on the matter for a more detailed analysis. Trent
Jacob Blythe October 09, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Didn't Mr. Hussey say "With regard to existing state employees, including teachers and first responders, we must follow through on promises already made." Do you even read what people write or do you just blabber and perpetuate lies to misguide voters?
Gail October 10, 2012 at 02:00 AM
My comment doesn't make much sense? Mmm, Trent, you clearly don't understand HOW Greece got into the situation they are in. Where did I say anything about austerity? Austerity has nothing to do with how they got into the fix. Try to keep up. Even a cursory analysis of Greece's history would have revealed the real problem. Totally different from the Great Depression Trent. Suggest you do some due diligence before you make more incorrect statements. Guess how this relates to your desire to not change future "healthcare benefits and pensions". Like I said, you don't know the history at all and only are aware of the 'solution' stage that Greece is in now. Do you think that keeping the pensions status quo is the solution for Greece? How exactly are they going to pay for this if there is no money? You are aware that some retired at the ripe old age of 50? FWIW you again reference material that has nothing to do with my comment. Putting words into people's mouths is a common tactic by disingenuous politically motivated persons.
Elizabeth October 10, 2012 at 05:29 AM
Here's what I hope Mr. Hussey--and Representative Goodman--will explain at one of the upcoming candidate forums: How should the state handle both the $1.1 billion budget shortfall and the additional $1 billion the State Supreme Court has ordered the state to spend shoring up public education? If Mr. Hussey is serious about fiscal innovation, why isn't he talking about updating our 80-year-old sales tax system, implementing a tax on high-end capitol gains, or eliminating some of the more wasteful corporate tax breaks? Washington voters are practical people. We will support reasonable increases in revenue to protect our investments education, health care, transportation, and public safety.
Steve October 12, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Elizabeth, I was at the town hall meeting at Wilder and most agreed that we need to look at a general overhaul of the tax system. The voters, who you claim would support a reasonable tax increase voted down an income tax and repealed the tax on soda and looks like, for the 5th time, will pass an initiative requiring a 2/3rds majority for tax increases. For the most part what came out of the panel was the legislature needs to come up with a blue panel idea to make the system both fair and more stable and predictable in the revenue. As Mr. Hussey said, as a small business owner, the one thing you do not want is uncertainty, not knowing what the tax rules will be. My question that was asked regarded the B&O tax. 2 years ago at the same town hall, the candidates sat up there and talked about how unfair it was. 2 years later nothing has changed. This time they said the same things. Rep. Goodman specifically called it a confiscation. Not sure why he did not do anything in the last 2 years to fix what he tells us is a horrible system.
Trent Latta October 31, 2012 at 07:26 PM
It is extremely telling that the original video in which Joel Hussey bashed firefighters and teachers has been removed from YouTube. It seems that Joel Hussey knows that he was caught saying something in close circles that he didn't want general voters to actually hear.
Eagle November 04, 2012 at 08:31 AM
Barack Obama spends $65,000 per year to send just two daughters to Sidwell Friends School. Yet he cut voucher programs for poor inner-city kids to attend this same school. I'm certain you voted for Obama, and are just fine with this. It looks as though your Mr. obama does not understand 'average' people.
Eagle November 04, 2012 at 08:36 AM
Unfortunately for small business owners, Goodman and Springer both voted to increase the B&O tax in 2010, a tax which they claimed they didn't like. So they made a bad thing even worse for small business owners. Time to fire these two spin-doctors.


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