Dennis Dellwo, Q&A on 15 topics
DENNIS DELLWO, Democrat
1. Why do you feel that you are the best candidate?
I have been extensively involved in neighborhood and city affairs and have a clear understanding of our community and its concerns. I spent 13 years in the Washington State Legislature. While a legislator I held leadership positions, was chairman of important committees and architect of key legislation. I not only bring this experience to the 6th District, but I will be able to take the 6th and Spokane’s concerns to the table when legislation or budgets are considered. I will hit the ground running. I also spent 12 years as the attorney member of the Growth Management Hearing Board.
2. What is the first bill you hope to sponsor or co-sponsor next session?
I will sponsor or co-sponsor legislation that aligns college and secondary school curriculums, so that high school graduates are ready to take on a post-secondary education. We need to plan education for the jobs that are or will be available to the students when they graduate.
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?
I agree with the Supreme Court. Our constitution declares that the state has a paramount duty to fully fund basic education. I do not agree with the Governor’s choice to raise taxes. To raise the needed money, we must improve the economy, develop an environment that would support job creation, work to close the numerous loopholes and credits that no longer serve a good purpose, build efficiencies in the existing programs, and reduce programs that do not serve a reasonable end or are not effective.
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 a rule that stipulates revenue can be increased or loopholes closed only with a 2/3 vote. It is unconstitutional unless the constitution is changed. The legislature will discuss a constitutional change and a 2/3 vote of its members is required for such an amendment. That would be a big step and we need to thoughtfully think it through. The legislative process affords us the time to consider the wisdom of shifting the balance of power to a minority of lawmakers on tax issues. I will consider whether to support this amendment after considering the consequences.
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?
We need to maintain the Basic Health Program’s level of service. If the Federal Health Reform is found constitutional, then that program will make more money available for those who need this coverage. If it is declared unconstitutional, then we must still maintain the Basic Health Program. As the economy improves and the revenue gained from the improved economy increases, we can continue to have the Basic Health Program available for those without insurance. Many businesses used the Basic Health Program to help them afford coverage for their employees. I would not raise taxes for this purpose.
6. Do you support same-sex marriage?
I do believe that we must allow marriage equality. I believe in extending equal rights to our gay and lesbian couples and the elimination of unjustified discrimination. No longer can the opponents of marriage equality ignore the general support for this change. I support marriage equality for all loving, committed couples.
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 onramps 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?
The North Spokane freeway is being built and needs to be connected to I-90. This needs to be done as carefully as possible to preserve the homes in East Central Neighborhood, while making that connection. The DOT professionals should review the alternatives with city government and the adjacent neighborhoods to limit impact while maintaining traffic flow. I do not believe we need an increase in gas tax at a time when the cost of gas is so high and car use is going down.
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?
I do support the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes. Because it is still a federal crime to possess marijuana, our legalization of recreational use of marijuana would expose users to Federal prosecution and should not happen. We will need to work with our Congressional leaders in showing the evidence based benefits of marijuana for medical needs.
9. Do you support the state’s current laws relating to collective bargaining among government workers?
I support the rights of individuals to organize to negotiate with their employers. This is good for the employees, the employer and the State of Washington. We need living wage jobs for families to be able to afford the products of businesses we are attracting to Spokane.
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 believe that the Northwest Museum of Arts and Cultures is Spokane’s jewel. With the MAC, Spokane has preserved its history and provided a venue for arts and culture from here and from around the world. We need to have a secure funding source to preserve this resource. The State benefits from this asset and should contribute accordingly. Additional local support is required as well. I would fight to see that the State continues to support the MAC.
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?
The voters have voted against income tax proposals that included these provisions. I believe the citizens of Washington State are not ready for this, and I will not make such a proposal. If a proposal was submitted to the voters with these reductions in other taxes built into the law, I would personally support it. If passed by the voters, then we could have a fairer system of taxation with little or no increase in the overall tax burden.
12. Do you support the state law that allows local governments to install red light enforcement cameras?
Yes, red light or speed cameras are appropriate where they can demonstrate a positive impact on traffic safety. This is a decision the city must make. This option should be available for cities. The revenue generated from this should be dedicated to traffic safety.
13. Should the state allow the creation of charter schools?
Washington has a long history promoting choice and offering alternatives within the public school system. The first innovative school in Washington began in 1935 in Spokane. Since then, the Legislature and State Board of Education have expanded authority for school districts to offer a broad array of public innovative schools and programs. I do not support Charter Schools if that would mean taking support from existing schools at a time when we are not fully funding basic education. We have numerous alternative schools already in the Spokane Area and in the State.
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 the city should have the ability to fund improvements to local streets. This is a choice they can make. Any increase in this fee should be submitted to a vote of the city voters.
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?
Lawmakers in Olympia have used drastic cuts to the state’s contribution to higher education to help balance their budget. The Legislature should fund a larger portion of the costs of higher education. This would lower the cost to the student and make Higher Education more accessible. I would cap the tuition if schools increase it after the Legislature funds higher education at previous levels. A quality higher education system is critical to our economic recovery.