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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Morgan Oyler, Q&A on 15 topics

1. Why do you feel that you are the best candidate? I would bring a unique perspective to the Legislature. My experience in both business and social services gives me a first-hand understanding of issues facing many 3rd District residents. I would bring an independent and common-sense approach to government that has been sorely lacking in Olympia. 2. What is the first bill you hope to sponsor or co-sponsor next session? The first bill I would sponsor would be one establishing a stand-alone K-12 education budget to ensure that our schools are the first funding priority of the legislature. 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 McCleary decision. For too long, our elected officials have not met their constitutional obligations. I do not think we need new taxes to meet our obligations. If we put into place structural budget reforms that ensure that education is properly funded, we can avoid raising 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 support the two-thirds tax requirement. Many in Olympia have used new taxes as a means to avoid making structural reforms to control the ever-increasing government spending. By voting a two-thirds tax requirement into law multiple times in recent history, the voters have repeatedly shown that they do not trust the leadership in Olympia to make hard decisions. The two-thirds tax requirement is simply a reflection of voters’ distrust of the Legislature. At this point in time, I would support a Constitutional amendment in favor of the two-thirds majority. 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 believe we should work to maintain the current level of support for the Basic Health program. However, we should also work to build the private sector economy so that individuals are not dependent of government assistance. If we can reduce the need for services, we can reduce the dramatic increase in health care costs the state has seen in recent years. 6. Do you support same-sex marriage? Yes. 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? I do believe we should find a way to finish the North Spokane Corridor. The current plan seems a bit bold to me; however, the project should be one of the top transportation priorities in the state. If the legislature can come up with a statewide transportation package with a sensible funding mechanism, I would support sending that package to the voters. 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 strongly support the use of medical marijuana for patients in need. However, under current federal law, the State of Washington cannot legalize marijuana. I would advocate for comprehensive drug reform at the federal level. Fundamentally, I believe that drug abuse should be treated as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue. 9. Do you support the state’s current laws relating to collective bargaining among government workers? If not, how should those laws change? One reform I would support would be giving the legislature control of contract negotiations, rather than the governor. I believe this reform would add a layer of transparency to the process. 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? The MAC is one of the jewels of the 3rd District. I do believe that state support is legitimate. However, until the personnel issues are addressed, no promises should be made. If the leadership at the MAC puts its house in order, then I would support maintaining or increasing current support. 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 oppose the implementation of an income tax in the State of Washington. I would support reforming the B&O tax to spur business growth and job creation. I also would support the repeal of the estate tax. 12. Do you support the state law that allows local governments to install red light enforcement cameras? I think the local municipalities should make the decision to use red light cameras and I support current state law. 13. Should the state allow the creation of charter schools? I support a broad education reform effort that includes the establishment of charter schools. They will not solve all our educational issues, but they should be one tool in our toolbox as we work to build the best public education system in the country. 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 do not support the $20 tab fee and do not support giving local municipalities the ability to raise it. This type of fee is a burden on working people and simply allows local governments to avoid making difficult decisions. 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? The legislature should return to a Priorities of Government budgeting process while addressing the cost drivers. By working to reduce health care costs and grow the economy, more money will be made available for our university system. I would support a cap in increases tied to inflation and economic growth.