Voters in the 3rd Legislative District have a clear choice between incumbent Democrat Timm Ormsby and Republican challenger Dave White for the Position 1 seat in the Washington House of Representatives.
We endorse Ormsby, on his own merits and because of the pivotal role he will play for the district and Spokane.
With the retirement of the city’s marquee legislator, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, also from the 3rd District, an experienced hand in Olympia will be important. Ormsby is running for his fifth full term occupying a seat he was appointed to fill in 2003, when Jeff Gombosky stepped aside to work for Eastern Washington University. His tenure has earned him the vice chairmanship of the House Capital Budget Committee, where he has been able to move projects like the Biomedical and Health Sciences Building forward despite budgetary pressures that could have interrupted construction.
Ormsby can help assure future Spokane projects do not get shuffled aside in future scrums over limited resources.
He is also a member of the Ways and Means Committee that helps set the state budget. There he has tried to protect the social programs critical to the district – among the poorest in the state – as he and his fellow lawmakers were forced to reduce state expenditures.
Ormsby says the Department of Social and Health Services has to be more flexible to accommodate “square” local programs that may not fit the department’s prescribed “round holes.”
A committee priority now is making sure Washington is ready to operate a health insurance exchange mandated by Obamacare. Thanks to the efforts of Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, Washington is among the states best-positioned to have an exchange ready by Oct. 1, but Ormsby says there is much work to be done meeting the technical and communications challenges, and creating a health care authority to manage the exchange.
Better access to health care would be a boon to his constituents.
Ormsby and White agree a higher gas tax is not the answer to the state’s transportation funding problem. Ormsby says the solution probably lies in high-tech technology for collecting tolls or calculating distances traveled – if privacy issues can be addressed – and predicts Spokane will have to find local dollars to match state money if the North Spokane Corridor is going to progress. Too true.
White says money for highways can be generated by selling more state timber, or a national policy of allowing more drilling for oil. But timber revenues are already dedicated to several trusts, notably one for school construction. And more oil, no matter how cheap, will not regenerate the kind of tax revenues at the pump that the gas guzzlers of yesteryear once did.
White also says jobs are his No. 1 priority, but the first bill he would sponsor is a “Castle Doctrine Bill,” a measure that has nothing to do with the economy, but everything to do with the agenda of his biggest contributor, the Gun Owners Action League of Washington.
The 3rd District would best be served by keeping Ormsby in the House.
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