Robert Wilson, Q&A on 15 topics
ROBERT “BOB” WILSON, Republican
1. Why do you feel that you are the best candidate?
Legislative District 7 is mainly a rural district. I grew up on a small farm in the Yakima Valley. I cut asparagus, picked cherries and even baled hops in the summers while I was at WSU. I am a hunter and hiker and have knowledge of the land through my education and life experience. I have real-life experience and have had to work throughout my life without having anything handed to me. My well-rounded background, my education and my willingness to go against the grain will allow me to institute the changes we need in Washington State.
2. What is the first bill you hope to sponsor or co-sponsor next session?
I have several that I am interested in yet the first and most important item I will do immediately is fight to freeze any new transportation construction by the state and in turn cut back on the gas tax. We have the highest fuel excise tax in the nation and truly, fuel costs are crippling the majority of our citizens. I believe that every program in the state should have no increases in expenditures or, when possible, cuts to their budgets for at least the next two to four years.
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?
No. I believe that more money thrown at the problem is not the answer. School budgets continue to balloon yet the quality of education appears to be decreasing. We need to concentrate on the students! In fact, many schools are top heavy in pay for administrators. For example, in Pend Oreille County where I reside, which is a relatively poor county, the three full-time county commissioners make around $50,000 each while the superintendant of Selkirk Schools makes over $109,000. The school districts need to reevaluate their budgets and put the students first.
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?
Yes! This is a mandate by the citizens of this state so, yes, we need to make it as difficult as possible for the Legislature to raise taxes.
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?
I won’t agree to new taxes as there are always other paths to achieve the same result. I agree with the Legislature’s decision to reduce eligibility. I believe the state’s basic health program should be an almost emergency program designed to help those who have fallen on dire straits. One of my objectives will be to remove any residents who are not here lawfully from this program or other such programs. Also, I strongly believe self-inflicted health problems such as those encountered by continued users of methamphetamines, heroin and the like should not be covered by our taxpayers’ pocketbooks.
6. Do you support same-sex marriage?
Yes and No. There is a tidal wave of support for it at this time in our country but I also believe that by allowing same-sex marriage, the next step will be to legalize polygamy.
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?
No. We are in a time of crisis in this state with our budget so this would be an appropriate time to shelve this plan until our financial situations improve. I understand that money has already been allocated for it but, in this crisis, stop the work and reallocate the money back to the consumers in the way of a REDUCED gas tax!
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 don’t support the legalization of recreational marijuana. If it’s legalized for adults then more youth would use it. Marijuana should be legal for severe medical cases. I had a sister die of cancer a couple of years back and she shrunk from a fairly robust woman to almost a skeleton. If marijuana would have improved her appetite I’m for it. The federal government’s jurisdiction supersedes the state’s and this is a sticky situation. Those who sell medical marijuana are subject to arrest at any time which makes passing a medical marijuana law iffy.
9. Do you support the state’s current laws relating to collective bargaining among government workers? If not, how should those laws change?
This will require much more of an in-depth examination than I currently have time to dedicate to it. But I will look into it and be able to answer fully at a later date.
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?
In this time of financial crisis, I would allow the significant cuts to remain in effect hoping that the curators of this institution can use more volunteers in place of paid personnel until the state’s budget crisis eases.
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?
NO! One of Washington State’s attractive points is that we don’t have an income tax. I believe that passing one would be detrimental to the state’s future. It will almost assuredly lead to more taxing and would solve no problems.
12. Do you support the state law that allows local governments to install red light enforcement cameras?
NO! These are income producers only and sadly only a portion of the automatic ticket revenue goes to the local government. They are also unjust in that an officer never has a chance to talk to the violator. Every officer has stopped a violator, asked why and actually received a response that convinced that officer to forego the issuance of a citation. I do not believe that red light cameras deter people from running the lights.
13. Should the state allow the creation of charter schools?
Yes. I believe that Charter Schools should be allowed and that the tax dollars attached to an individual student should be transferable. Competition leads to better results.
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?
No and NO! Our citizens are having a heck of a time making ends meet now. With the high fuel costs and slow growth in the availability of jobs, each added tax is equivalent to another straw on a taxpayer’s back and they are overloaded now.
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?
First of all, why is tuition rising at such a tremendous rate? That would have to be investigated. I believe that these higher costs-doubling per your numbers in five years- are pushing middle and lower middle class families away from college. Attending college needs to be economically viable for the residents of Washington but at this rate it is becoming much more of a luxury than it was only a few years ago.
The tuition needs to be capped. Other items can be cut from their budget to allow the cost per student to level off rather than growing exponentially.