Amy Biviano, Q&A on 15 topics
AMY BIVIANO, Democrat
1. Why do you feel that you are the best candidate?
My background as a CPA and a public school volunteer gives me the right blend of small business experience, family values and educational advocacy to be an effective voice for all residents of our community.
2. What is the first bill you hope to sponsor or co-sponsor next session?
My first legislative priority is to create jobs by reforming our regressive business and occupation tax code. We must eliminate the hundreds of special interest tax loopholes created for large companies with the most lobbyists, which place an unfair burden on our local small business owners. I also support a simpler system based on net margin that allows business cycle predictability and removes some of the inequality of the current tax.
3. Do you agree with the state Supreme Court ruling from January that said that the state is not adequately funding basic education? Do you agree with Gov. Chris Gregoire’s assessment that tax increases are needed to meet the requirements of the ruling?
Washington State must honor its paramount duty to educate our children. Education is an investment that pays dividends in a stable, ready workforce that attracts employers to our area, while giving our kids and grandkids good jobs to stay here. The Tech Campus in West Valley is a strong example of a public-private partnership that both prepares our students for future careers while giving local manufacturers a stable pipeline of trained employees. With these partnerships, and with smart budgeting, I believe we can strengthen education without increasing taxes.
4. Do you support the voter-approved rule that stipulates that the Legislature can only approve a tax increase when each chamber supports the increase with two-thirds majorities? Should the state Constitution be amended to require two-thirds votes to approve tax increases?
I do not support the two-thirds majority rule for tax increases. It gives too much power to the minority to hold our budget hostage.
5. The Legislature decided in 2011 to reduce the eligibility for the state’s Basic Health program and thousands of people were kicked off the plan. Benefits of the program also were reduced, including the elimination of adult dental coverage. Should the level of services of the program be cut, maintained or increased? If you support increased services, would you be willing to raise taxes to pay for the improvements?
While I believe services for our most vulnerable citizens should be increased, and we must maintain our commitment to Basic Health coverage, I cannot support a tax increase in our current economic climate.
6. Do you support same-sex marriage?
Yes, I honor all families. As a woman blessed enough to marry my college sweetheart who will be celebrating 15 years of marriage this year, I could not deny that blessing to anyone.
7. Current plans for completing the North Spokane freeway call for its interchange with Interstate 90 to expand I-90 to about 20 lanes wide, including on ramps and service roads, in a portion of the East Central Neighborhood. Do you support this configuration? Would you support asking voters for a state gas tax increase if it included money to help complete the North Spokane freeway?
I support completing the North Spokane freeway as a major transportation throughway and will ensure it is well-designed. This project is a source of good, well paying jobs and a competitive advantage for Spokane businesses. I agree with the business leaders at AGC that the most stable and related source of funding for this vital project would be asking voters for a gas tax investment.
8. Do you support the legalization of marijuana for adults, including for recreational purposes? If not, do you support the legalization of marijuana for medical use? How would you address the conflict that currently exists between state law allowing marijuana for medical use and federal law banning it?
While marijuana, like all drugs, is potentially harmful, I believe the time has come to decriminalize it, regulate it, and tax it. I also believe that all personal medical decisions should be made by individuals and their health care providers, and that medical marijuana falls into this category. I think that federal law will eventually go the same direction, and will advocate for it to do so.
9. Do you support the state’s current laws relating to collective bargaining among government workers? If not, how should those laws change?
Yes, I believe that workers have the right to unionize and collectively bargain for their salaries and benefits. We do better as a society when we support the rights of our working class citizens.
10. State funding for the Northwest Museum of Arts and Cultures has been significantly cut in the last few years. Should the state’s current financial support to the museum be increased, maintained or decreased?
I would maintain the current funding for the MAC, as a community asset.
11. Would you support the creation of an income tax to reduce or eliminate the business and occupation tax or cut other kinds of state taxes?
I support broad tax reform. However, I do not believe that our citizens can afford a state income tax or the addition of other taxes at the consumer level now, even if it did mean that we could eliminate other regressive taxes such as B&O.
12. Do you support the state law that allows local governments to install red light enforcement cameras?
I believe that red light cameras reduce dangerous accidents while controlling costs to the taxpayer.
13. Should the state allow the creation of charter schools?
I believe that charter schools have not be proven to be effective and would add stress to an already underfunded K-12 system.
14. Do you support the state law that allows local governments to form districts that can add a fee of up to $20 to vehicle license charges without a public vote to pay for improvements to local streets? If so, would you support increasing the amount that could be charged without asking voters?
I believe that cities have an obligation to provide street maintenance for their citizens. I would not support an increase in the threshold without voter approval.
15. College tuition at state-supported institutions has soared in recent years. The Washington State University Board of Regents recently set the typical undergraduate tuition for 2012-2013 at $11,305. That’s up from $5,812 only five years ago. What should the Legislature do, if anything, to deal with the sharp increases in collection tuition? Would you support capping tuition increases at state universities?
Higher education costs are an enormous strain on middle class families. We must do something for those families not rich enough to pay full price, and not poor enough for financial aid. The legislature should take back tuition setting authority from the Board of Regents and be held accountable for keeping education affordable. I could support a tuition cap.