Letter from Incoming Chair of Mainstream Republicans

Letter from Incoming Chair of Mainstream Republicans

Dear Mainstream Republicans:

These are most interesting and exciting times for Mainstream Republicans of Washington. As its new
Chair, I’d like to share a few thoughts about our important work.

Thanks in part to Mainstream’s pragmatic and moderate approach, Republicans continue to govern in
our state, even as party fortunes have faded elsewhere on the West Coast. Can you believe
California Republicans have not elected a statewide officeholder in a decade, and are on the wrong
side of a supermajority in the state legislature?

Mainstream Republicans of Washington was formed a quarter century ago to carry on the legacy of a
common sense and moderate approach to governing. We recruit and train candidates, and support them
in primaries and general elections. Among our recent successes are the election of Congressman Dan
Newhouse, State Treasurer Duane Davidson, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, and Pierce County Executive
Bruce Dammeier.

We also have supported the election of many state legislators and local officials, and Republicans
have a functioning majority in the state Senate and are within two seats of a majority in the
House.

But as we heard at the Cascade Conference in Leavenworth last month, there are some hard questions
about how our sustained success at home can coexist with proposed federal policies that are out of
step with the needs and desires of our communities. Some of these proposed policies threaten jobs
across the state, from fruit growers in the Columbia Valley to technology
companies in Bellevue. O thers could undermine our enjoyment of the great outdoors through efforts
to clean up air and water pollution.

I’ve included a cop y of the agenda from our most recent Cascade Conference so that you can see
the challenging issues we would like to tackle. I’ve also included a link to articles from the
Seattle P-I and Crosscut, among other coverage of the event.

Sen. Slade G orton advised state Republican elected officials and community leaders to address the
challenges on the national front by staying focused on “doing our jobs,” working to solve our
challenges here at home. That’s advice Mainstream Republicans will follow.

We will continue to support Mainstream candidates, like Jinyoung Lee Englund, who is seeking the
seat formerly held by the late Andy Hill. Her victory will mean that Republicans can continue to
govern in the Senate through a coalition with a few Democrats, continuing a Mainstream
Republican tradition of working across the aisle to address the challenges facing our state.

We will continue to advocate for our Northwest values and, as President Reagan urged, seek to
defend them against encroachment by the federal government. Beginning this Fall, look for us to
bring the great ideas and discussion from the Cascade Conference to events and forums across the
state.

G ov. Evans reminds us that our fortunes in Washington State are not bound to events in the other
Washington. After all, he won the governor’s race in the same election where the Republican nominee
for president-Barry G oldwater-was soundly defeated. But to succeed over the next few years will
demand our collective commitment to further the Northwest Republican values that have sustained us
for the last half century.

I hope that you will continue to support Mainstream Republicans of Washington. Your help is
needed now as much as it ever has been. Based on what I saw at the Cascade Conference, you’ll
be joining a group full of excitement and anticipation for our work.

Finally, I want to thank former Secretary of State Sam Reed for his extraordinary leadership of
Mainstream Republicans as its chair over the last several years. Sam has worked tirelessly with the
board and staff to modernize and reinvigorate the organization. I’m glad to say he’ll remain active
as a member of the board and executive committee.

I encourage you to call or email me with your suggestions, comments or concerns.

Very Truly Yours,

Mike Vaska
Chair
Mainstream Republicans of Washington

Posted by Anna Salick

General Election Endorsements

Greetings Friends and Supporters,
I hope this issue of our newsletter finds you mulling over your general election ballot which should have arrived in your mailbox within the last couple of days. This election year, though an off year, is very important to the future of our state. In filling out your ballot, keep in mind our mission of supporting and electing well-qualified and moderate Republicans. I encourage you to research and support the candidates on our Endorsement Page

Warmest Regards,

Sam S. Reed
Chairman
Mainstream Republicans of Washington

Posted by Shane Stewart

Updating 2016 Presidential Primary news

As you may recall, I’ve been advocating for a strong voice for all Washington voters during the presidential nominating process by conducting a Presidential Primary. With bipartisan support in both houses, the Legislature budgeted monies for our state to conduct a Presidential Primary in 2016. Unfortunately, we were unable to move our reform bill out of the House. One provision in our bill would have moved the date of the primary to the second Tuesday in March, to insure maximum voter participation and candidate visits to our state. That date is near the front end of the nominating process for both political parties.
Following session, I carried that battle to a special date-setting committee we convened pursuant to the Presidential Primary law. However, Democratic leadership did not support moving to an earlier primary date. As a result, May 24th will be the date for the 2016 Washington State Presidential Primary.
Some have suggested we cancel the whole thing, since the Democratic Party will not be using the results for their national delegate allocation. I have a different take on this. Voters deserve to have their voices heard in a manner they are used to – an election.

A statewide Presidential Primary is the only real way voters in our state can choose their party affiliation and vote for their nominee for President. It’s not a poll, not a survey, not a caucus. All of those have a place in the political process, but each involves only a small percentage of the electorate. In contrast, the Presidential Primary is an official election, administered by county election officials, under state law, where voters cast ballots in secret, and have their ballots counted and reported publicly. Whether the political parties choose to listen to or use those results is secondary. People who want to participate should be able to do so in a manner they are used to and have their voices heard.

Posted by admin

Full steam ahead for WA Presidential Primary

220742_414712298593841_117097651_oSOS: August 18th 2015

Washington is moving forward with plans for a May 24 Presidential Primary in 2016, Secretary of State Kim Wyman said Monday.

Wyman has met with the state Elections Division to give the green light for continued implementation of the May Presidential Primary.

The important point is that the voters of Washington will get an opportunity to express themselves, to vote on how they feel about who should be their party’s nominee for president of the United States, said Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer.

The question of what the parties do with the results is entirely up to the parties, she said. For our office and the elections community across the state, the emphasis will be on making sure this important election is administered in a fair and accessible and accurate manner. I have great confidence in our 39 county auditors and election directors.

Wyman herself has been involved in administering all four of the previous presidential primaries, as Thurston County staffer, Elections Director and County Auditor.

A presidential primary is very exciting and people really get engaged, she said. It is certainly a different kind of election, since voters will be asked to declare a party affiliation and to vote only on that party’s list of candidates. The parties have a First Amendment right of association that limits access to their nominating process to their self-identified members.

Last week, four Democratic members of the Presidential Primary Committee blocked efforts by Wyman and four Republican Party leaders to move the default date of May 24 to much earlier in the primary season, March 8.

Wyman said that was a disappointing outcome, and that an earlier date would have maximized voter participation and visits from candidates. But she said the Legislature funded the election and the default date of May 24 now has been affirmed, so it’s full steam ahead.

State Elections Director Lori Augino said three training workshops are planned for election administrators around the state in September.

Our elections community has been closely watching the fate of the Presidential Primary for months and they are energized about engaging the voters of Washington, she said.

Our Presidential Primary law adopted by the Legislature in 1989 as an Initiative to the Legislature is the only statewide process that allows voters to have their voices heard in a way they are used to, voting for candidates on a ballot in an official public primary election,” Wyman said.

Both parties will be holding caucuses. The Democrats are on March 26. The Democrats have said they will use the caucus/convention process to allocate all of the state’s national convention delegates. Republicans caucus date has not been set. GOP leaders have said they expect the party to use primary results for at least half of their national delegation.

Posted by admin, 34 comments

Primary Election Results

   

Friends,

Overall, the 2015 primary election was very successful for the Mainstream Republicans of Washington (MRW). With one unfortunate exception.

Most important: MRW endorse candidate Teri Hickel edged the Democratic incumbent for the 30th district House race. If she wins in the general, and she should, the Democrat’s margin in the House will narrow to 50-48. She beefed up her campaign for the general election by hiring a new campaign manager, Keith Schipper. He managed the highly successful State Senate campaign in the 30th last year when Mark Milosica defeated a Democratic incumbent.

Also good news.A MRW board member and rising star, Bellevue City council member Jennifer Robertson, prevailed with 77.4% of the vote. Wow! Even when I’ve had nobodies running against me, I’ve never seen numbers like that.

Another piece of very good news is that Spokane Mayor David Condon prevailed with 66.4% of the vote. As many of you will recall, he has been very enthusiastically received as a speaker in our last two Cascade Conferences. MRW honored him at this year’s conference in Leavenworth with the prestigious Norm Maleng Award (for the outstanding mainstream GOP local official of the year).

MRW’s former secretary and board member, April Sanders, successfully launched her political career by beating her next closest opponent by 15% of the vote for a Pierce County Charter Review commissioner position. April is just 24 or so. Our longtime friend, Mainstream Republican legislator and county council member, Jan Shabro, is also significantly ahead for one of those positions. A MRW board member and former county council member Shawn Bunney made it into the general but is a little behind.

Kim Wyman and I are delighted and relieved that Julie Wise is ahead of State Representative Zach Hudgins by a 2:1 margin for King County Election Director. Julie is a career, professional, non-partisan election administrator. Zach is a nice guy but is a very partisan Democrat. The excellent King County operation could regress very quickly if he were elected.

Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney is in the lead to be re-elected, but he has a touch race.

The Thurston County Mainstream Republicans were very pleased with the results. The candidate we’re supporting for Mayor of Olympia, Cheryl Selby, is winning with 70.4% of the vote against a leftwinger endorsed and actively supported by the outgoing mayor. Cheryl will be the first business owner to be elected Olympia Mayor in 30 years and the first woman to directly elected by the people to that position. Olympia Port Commissioner candidate Joe Downing is defeating George Barner, the notorious Democrat who has been a thorn in our side for years. One of Kim Wyman’s favorite candidates, Jerry Farmer, made it into the general election for port commissioner but has a lot of ground to make up against a leftwinger who would be a problem for the port.

Now, the exception to the good news. MRW board member Herb Krohn lost in his race to replace Bill Bryant on the Seattle Port Commission. Herb received an excellent endorsement from the Seattle Times but didn’t raise enough money to let King County voters know about it. That’s a shame.

But, overall, it was a good primary election for mainstream Republicans. Now, we have lots of work to do between now and November 3rd. Onward and upward!

  • Sam Reed, Chair, Mainstream Republicans of Washington, Secretary of State, 2001-2013
Posted by admin, 17 comments

Bipartisan budget fully funds education, reduces tuition without new taxes

Andy Hill

Sen. Andy Hill today released a final bipartisan two-year operating budget that fully funds education, reduces college tuition and protects the social safety net without raising new taxes.

”We began this year with the goal of fully funding education and ensuring a sustainable future for the state,” said Hill, chair of the Ways and Means committee and chief budget writer in the Senate. “Today we are delivering historic investments and bipartisan solutions that fully fund education, make college affordable and provide needed support for our most vulnerable friends and neighbors.”

The final budget increases early learning, K-12 and higher education funding by 19 percent while the rest of state government grows by 6 percent. An additional $2.7 billion investment in K-12 brings overall education spending to $18.2 billion a more than 47 percent share of the state’s budget and a level that hasn’t been reached in 30 years. Other major investments expand high quality early learning opportunities and bolster the state mental health system.

The budget also reduces tuition at state colleges and universities for the first time in state history. Over 200,000 students will benefit, making Washington the only state in the nation to actually reduce tuition rates.

”With this bipartisan agreement we deliver a shared commitment to make meaningful investments in the lives of Washington’s citizens,” said Hill. This historic budget will have a long-lasting positive effect on our state’s education system and will strengthen our economy with a workforce prepared to fill good Washington jobs.

Lawmakers will vote on the budget before the new two-year budget cycle begins July 1st.

Posted by admin, 27 comments

Seattle Times: Legislature OKs new budget with rare tuition cuts and pay raises for teachers

Originally published June 29, 2015 at 4:29 pm Updated June 29, 2015 at 9:13 pm

The two-year state budget approved by the Legislature Monday night provides a rare tuition cut for college students, raises teacher pay and ends a handful of tax exemptions and preferential tax rates to add new revenue.

Section Sponsor

By Joseph Oa�Sullivan

Katherine Long

Seattle Times Staff Reporters

OLYMPIA  The two-year state budget approved by the Legislature Monday night provides a rare tuition cut for college students, raises teacher pay and ends a handful of tax exemptions and preferential tax rates to add new revenue.

The $38.2 billion spending plan was headed to the governor’s desk after passing the Senate and House.

The 2015-17 operating budget is expected to be signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday, the drop-dead deadline to approve a new budget and avoid a partial government shutdown.

Republican Sen. Andy Hill, the chamber’s key budget writer, said the plan focuses on the priorities of the state.

It is a great budget, he said.

Democratic Sen. Jim Hargrove agreed, saying it was fairly remarkable from where we started out.

Under the compromise, there would be a 15 percent reduction in tuition at the University of Washington and Washington State University, a 20 percent reduction at Western, Central and Eastern Washington universities and The Evergreen State College, and a 5 percent reduction at community and technical colleges.

The cuts would be phased in, with a 5 percent reduction in the first year of the biennium for all colleges and universities. In 2016, tuition would be cut an additional 10 percent at the UW and WSU, and 15 percent at WWU, CWU, EWU and Evergreen.

The agreement adds an estimated $1.3 billion to K-12 education, including money to reduce class sizes in grades K-3, expand full-day kindergarten and cover other school costs.

Those moves were considered necessary to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling that said the state isn’t meeting its constitutional duty to fully fund basic education.

But the budget proposal doesn’t reduce classes in grades 4-12, which was required by voter-approved Initiative 1351 last fall. Budget negotiators from both parties said Monday that they still don’t know how exactly they intend to limit or delay I-1351.

We knew from the beginning that 1351 was going to be impossible to fund, said Frank Ordway, government relations director at the League of Education Voters. And that bore itself out in the budget negotiations.

The budget gives a 3 percent cost-of-living raise to K-12 employees over the next two years, plus an additional temporary 1.8 percent increase that expires in 2017. It proposes a slight increase in health-care benefits for K-12 employees, but not enough, the Washington Education Association said, to keep up with rising costs.

Ordway said he expects lawmakers to suspend Initiative 1351. Still, he called the budget one of the best education budgets in the history of the state.

Rich Wood, spokesman for the Washington Education Association, said the one-time 1.8 percent pay increase does little to make up for the six years that the state did not pay teachers regular cost-of-living adjustments. Besides a 3 percent cost-of-living increase over the next two years, he said, there is no increase in base pay for teachers.

People are already joking, and saying, It’s like a tip, he said.

The agreement would eliminate a handful of tax exemptions while extending others to raise about $350 million through 2019. House Democrats originally called for $1.5 billion in new revenue through 2017, including a tax on capital gains, but recent economic forecasts predict more money than expected from existing taxes.

The revenue plan ends a preferential business-and-occupation tax rate for royalty income and repeals a tax break for software manufacturers.

Among other provisions, the agreement applies the business-and-occupation tax to some out-of-state wholesalers and raises some excise- tax penalties.

Lawmakers began a third special session Sunday to complete work on the budget, as well as a recently agreed-upon state transportation package. They were expected to work late Monday night.

No other state has cut tuition for its public universities and colleges for the coming academic year, according to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Still, Washington’s tuition at four-year universities went up 34 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars over the past five years much higher than the national increase of 17 percent, said Sandy Baum, a research professor at George Washington University and a national expert on college pricing.

She said Washington public-college tuition is currently about 16 percent above the national average.

The budget deal also freezes the payout value of the state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) tuition plan at today’s value, $117 per unit, for the next two years, said GET spokesman Ryan Betz. Under the terms of a GET contract, the payout value is tied to the state’s highest tuition; one of the concerns about cutting tuition was that it would cause investors to lose money this year on the prepaid plan.

The budget agreement also provides $14 million for emergency drought response, and $31 million for a 9 percent increase in temporary cash assistance for families in need.

The budget deal drew criticism from Andy Nicholas, senior fiscal analyst with the progressive Washington State Budget and Policy Center, which had supported closing more tax breaks and imposing a new capital-gains tax on the wealthiest households.

This is simply not a sustainable budget no matter how you slice it, Nicholas said.

By relying mostly on natural tax growth and one-time budget fixes, lawmakers in a few years will wrestle again with how to adequately fund public schools and other needs, Nicholas predicted.

But in a statement Inslee hailed the plan as a great budget for Washington state, “| It makes the investments we need to move the state forward and follows spending priorities I set out when the Legislature convened in January.”

He concluded: The only major complaint I have with this budget is we’re talking about it on June 29. This should have happened two months ago.

Staff reporters Jim Brunner and Leah Todd, along with The Associated Press, contributed to this story. Katherine Long reported from Seattle. Joseph O\’Sullivan: 360-236-8268 or [email protected]. On Twitter @OlympiaJoe

 

Posted by admin, 24 comments

Transportation Isn’t Just A Puget Sound Problem

Eastern Washington Office Director Washington Policy Center

Washington Policy Center  the state’s leading public policy research organization – has compiled five policy recommendations that lawmakers should include in any legislation that is funded by a tax increase, to ensure any new transportation bill improves mobility and serves the public interest. Some of these reform ideas were shared and discussed at the Cascade Conference.

First, taxes and fees paid by drivers should not subsidize other modes of transportation. Gas taxes are protected by the 18th Amendment to the state constitution, which limits the use of gas tax revenue exclusively to roads and highways, benefiting the driving public who pays the tax. Raising transportation-related fees, raising the sales tax on the sale of vehicles and using roadway tolls, all to subsidize other travel modes are examples of how this practice is unfair and siphons revenue paid by drivers that should instead fund roads that reduce traffic congestion and improve safety. All transportation taxes and fees paid by drivers should be used for highway purposes only, while alternative travel modes should be funded by their own users, which reduces the public subsidy, or through local options that apply to the general public, like sales taxes.

Second, do not create a state-level tax or fee to fund local transit agencies. Public transit is a local function with its own tax base and the state’s role should be limited to granting local tax authority, not creating a new state level funding source. There are 31 public transit agencies in Washington and they collected $2.05 billion in total revenues in 2010. To put this in perspective, in 2010 the state collected about the same amount ($2.09 billion) from the three major revenue categories (taxes, fees and miscellaneous) that fund the state’s entire transportation budget.

Third, stop diverting existing transportation taxes and fees to pay for non-highway purposes. Each year, drivers pay about $204 million in various transportation taxes and fees that state officials then divert and spend on non-highway purposes. Annually, this amount is equivalent to about seven cents per gallon in the state gas tax rate. These other projects may be important, but they should have their own funding sources, particularly paid by the user-group who benefits from the program or service.

Fourth, expand capacity, fix choke-points and do not restrict new resources to just maintaining the existing system. Over the past 30 years, highway demand in the Seattle area has increased 128%, yet lane capacity in that same time span has increased only 72%. The congestion isn’t just a Puget Sound problem it’s a statewide issue. Eastern Washington depends on a free flow of traffic to get its products into and out of port. When lanes are clogged, the state’s economy suffers. If drivers are going to pay more in higher transportation taxes and fees, it should be in exchange not only for projects that maintain the current system, but also for projects that reduce traffic congestion.

Finally, reduce unnatural cost drivers that make transportation projects more expensive. Artificial costs are from policies created by government officials that inflate expenses on public works projects. These policies are implemented for reasons that are unrelated to actually building a project. These unnatural cost drivers include prevailing wage rules and the state charging itself sales taxes on state transportation projects.A Studies show that imposing federal prevailing wage rules on transportation projects unnecessarily increases labor costs by 22% and boosts total project costs by about 10%. On the sales tax reform, the practice could come to an end under a Senate proposal. That could mean millions of dollars would stop being diverted away from transportation projects every year.

Posted by admin, 31 comments

Perspectives on state transportation funding

by State Rep. Ed Orcutt

Transportation funding is one of the most difficult-to-solve issues in Olympia. Most people agree we need to improve our roads and other aspects of our transportation infrastructure, but there is significant disagreement on how and when to pay for it.

The arguments in favor of more investment in transportation hardly need repeating: congestion relief for commuters, easier transport of goods for businesses, safer roads and bridges, and better maintenance of our infrastructure, etc. But talking about the benefits is the easy part.

While the public generally supports the idea of transportation improvements, taxpayers are much less receptive to tax-increase proposals. People’s resistance to more taxes isn’t just a case of I want more, but I don’t want to pay for it.Tthey are genuinely concerned about problems at the state transportation department (WSDOT) and skeptical that new dollars would be used well.

You can hardly blame them. Practically every week we’re confronted with news of the ongoing problems with Bertha. We’ve heard story after story of serious problems in the state ferry system about which Seattle’s KING-TV did a Waste on the Water series. It’s pretty tough, perhaps even impossible, to convince people they should pay almost 12 cents more tax per gallon of gas plus higher registration fees in the midst of all this.

Before they can support a gas-tax hike, taxpayers need proof that their money won’t be wasted. As candidate for governor Jay Inslee said during his 2012 campaign, the right time [for a transportation tax package] is when we gain the trust of Washingtonians. Now, that is not a calendar date it’s a date of what we need to do, which is to build people’s confidence and trust in the state government.

I don’t think we’ve done a good enough job of regaining people’s trust to justify sticking them with higher gas taxes and registration fees. We need to show, convincingly, that things have improved.

On the legislative side, I support cost-saving reforms that would, among other things, keep the sales tax revenues collected from transportation projects in the transportation budget (currently they go into the general fund), and change costly environmental and labor requirements for road projects to save time and money.

Some reforms can only come from the inside they can’t be legislated. Taxpayers need to see that WSDOT is consistently and reliably cleaning up its act. I can say from working with people at WSDOT that they are improving the department’s work product. But it’s the general public that must be convinced, and I’m doubtful there has been enough done to convince them. It’s easy to see why they would be reluctant to support a gas-tax hike the size of what’s currently being proposed.

Additionally, people want to know their tax dollars would be spent on local projects that would help their communities not just poured into Puget Sound. Nobody begrudges Seattle getting significant funding. That’s only natural due to its size and importance to the economy, but there must be a greater balance of more economic development in other areas of the state.

I am also concerned about how effective the freight mobility projects will be in the Puget Sound area. Will population growth just re-clog those routes with commuters, leaving freight in the same traffic as today while paying higher taxes and fees?

In most of my district, the 20th, we have some of the highest unemployment rates in the state. People cannot afford another large tax increase when so many are unemployed or under-employed. Nor can seniors living on fixed incomes. It’s too much for them to afford.

Some House Republicans want to support the transportation package because of the benefits to their districts: meaningful congestion relief, more capacity, etc. I certainly understand the serious transportation problems in suburban and urban districts.

But, for successful, long-term investments in our transportation infrastructure to succeed, the two key issues of reforms and public trust cannot be ignored. They must be addressed, or the people of Washington will not consent to higher taxes. And if we don’t get those reforms with this tax package, taxpayers will wait 10 years or more for the next chance to get the reforms they deserve.

-Orcutt, R-Kalama, represents the 20thA Legislative District in the state House of Representatives. He is the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee.

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