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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Tim Benn, Q&A on 15 topics

TIM BENN, Republican 1. Why do you feel that you are the best candidate? I have lived in Spokane my whole life and would represent the 3rd District with honesty, integrity, and common sense. 2. What is the first bill you hope to sponsor or co-sponsor next session? Support the two-thirds majority vote to increase taxes. 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 disagree with the court ruling from January but I have some serious concerns with the current education system and administrative structure. I also disagree with Governor Gregoire’s assessment that taxes need to be increased. I believe we need to reevaluate how tax dollars are being spent within education to get the highest quality education directly to the children and fulfill the state constitutional obligation. 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 and yes! 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? If the state was willing to work with more private insurance providers the quality of the coverage could be maintained while the costs would be more competitive. The level of services should be maintained with additional services available to those who want to purchase them independently. 6. Do you support same-sex marriage? No. 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? Twenty lanes wide seems excessive and expensive. I would not support asking voters for a gas tax increase since the voters are already burdened with more gas taxes than most states. 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 not support legalizing something that is still illegal on a federal level, thus causing more conflicts and wasted time, money and resources on both the state and federal level. It seems that this is a federal decision not a state decision. 9. Do you support the state’s current laws relating to collective bargaining among government workers? If not, how should those laws change? I believe that the collective bargaining laws need to be reformed. I am currently unsure of the specifics of how those laws should change but with a collaborative effort I believe they could be changed for the positive. In a difficult economy there is a sustentative discrepancy between the wages and benefits of union jobs and private sector jobs. 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? State funding of the MAC should be maintained, it is a valuable asset to the Spokane community. 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 believe that the B&O tax needs to be reformed but I am not inclined to be supportive of creating more or new taxes. 12. Do you support the state law that allows local governments to install red light enforcement cameras? I do not support the red light camera law. The cameras are expensive and the photographs that the enforcement cameras take are often not usable, so I believe that tax dollars could be better spent. 13. Should the state allow the creation of charter schools? I support the creation of charter schools depending on the structure that is being used as a model. If the model used allows for creative and innovative ways to teach different curricula than the state and allows for more local control of content and structure, then I whole heartedly support charter schools. Parental choice in the education of their children is positive. 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. Fees should not be added 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? I support indexing tuition increases at state universities to match the cost of living. State colleges and universities need to use their funding more efficiently so that costs to the students can be affordable without universities needing more state funding.