Paid for by Citizens for Christopher Hurst | Independent Democrat | 62504 Indian Summer Way E | Enumclaw, WA 98022
Some candidates will talk about what they think they might do if they are elected to the Washington Legislature. I would rather talk about things I have actually accomplished on your behalf.
Being elected to public office is about using common sense and making important decisions. IN the legislature there are lawyers, accountants, policy staff members and others who assist us in doing research to better help you. Sometimes we use this in drafting legislation other times they assists us in solving problems for constituents with other government agencies. But in the end it is legislators that have to vote yes or no on every issue - there is no ďmaybeĒ button.
During my time in the legislature I have earned a reputation as a strong fiscal conservative. In this last session we passed some very important reform measures that will put Washington State on a much more sustainable budgeting path. The reforms passed in 2012 were done on a bipartisan basis and are the most significant reforms to state budgeting in many decades. Iím proud to have been a member of a group of moderate legislators who banded together to demand these reforms. Part of the problem for our group of moderates was breaking through the partisan gridlock. These difficult economic times in recent years actually created an opportunity to restructure government and make it more efficient. This was an important priority for me when I went to the legislature
Additionally, Iíve been a strong crusader and supporter of public education. Even though my background is in law enforcement, I know that wisely investing in education is an investment that reduces the needs for criminal justice costs and welfare. A well educated population and giving young people the tools to survive and thrive results in productive citizens. Although I also believe that we should help people that are down on their luck, I also think that we should give people a hand up as opposed to just a hand out. Iím a big believer in the concept coined years ago, ďgive a man a fish, you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.Ē
Below youíll find a series of issues that relate to specific legislation, general political concepts and local issues as theyíve come up over the years. Some are from newspaper articles that I have written or position papers that Iíve authored. Still others are from news stories about projects I was working on as your Representative. They start with more current issues and go back in time. It is important to realize from a contextual point of view that some of the issues are now resolved today. The reason they are here is so you have an opportunity to understand not just what I said I would do but to actually see my work.
Hereís a piece that ran in the local Enumclaw paper in April:
Congratulations to Buckley & the Rainier School!
In October of 1939 the Rainier School opened in Buckley. Although it has undergone many changes throughout the years, today, the Rainier School cares for our stateís most vulnerable disabled citizens. The Rainier School provides a home for these folks in a caring and safe environment. It is also an important part of Buckleyís economy. The Rainier School has never been a partisan issue as all of the members of your legislative delegation join together to support the Rainier School. However, as an aging facility, itís become necessary to do some remodeling to keep the Rainier School functioning properly. I am very pleased to announce that we were able to get $3 million in the Capitol Budget to move forward with these long overdue renovations, which will also provide income for local contractors and folks in the building trades.
New Balanced Budget Requirement
During this legislative session major changes were made to how the state does business. The most important reforms in decades, which passed with bipartisan votes, will help ensure that we donít find ourselves in this much trouble in the future. We reigned in government spending and enacted significant efficiencies. Although there were many reforms, one of the most important is a requirement that the state not only pass a balanced budget in the current fiscal cycle, but that the budget not create a deficit in the following two years. This type of fiscal responsibility is something that I have been working towards for many years and am very pleased that it was enacted by the legislature.
An interesting new word is popping up in America, itís called Re-Shoring. Everyone has heard of the off-shoring and out-sourcing of jobs to foreign countries. This cost us millions of American jobs to countries like China. But Americans are now realizing that this has ravaged our economy. Who wants to save a couple of dollars when you buy a product made in China at the local hardware store if it means one of their friends or neighbors is going to lose their job? Are you tired off calling customer service and finding that the person speaks such poor English that you canít understand each other? American built products = American jobs. If you buy products made in America, or even better yet, products made locally, youíll be part of this new movement, bringing American jobs back home. In the legislature we worked hard in the last two years to make Washington a more business friendly place and to speed up the process of Re-Shoring. Re-Shoring, simply put, means bringing American jobs back to American shores. We can all help by shopping locally.
Mai Taiís and Margaritas at Your Local Grocery Store?
Well sort of. Last fall Washington voters overwhelmingly voted to get the state out of the liquor business. Large grocery stores that are over 40,000 square feet will be allowed to sell hard alcohol. Small grocery stores and convenience marts are prohibited from selling these products under the initiative voters passed. The old liquor stores that were owned by the state have been exempted from this size restriction and were auctioned off last week. Although the state is leaving the liquor business I think it is time for us to reflect on this change and recognize that no matter who sells alcohol, we all bear a responsibility as a community to reduce alcohol abuse and driving. As far back as I can remember we have had yearly tragedies involving young people, alcohol, and car crashes. Although the rate of drunk driving fatalities has actually decreased in the last 20 years, a single life lost is one too many. I spent 25 years as a police officer and have seen societies values change. Itís no longer funny when somebody gets drunk and drives. Itís much more common for a friend or a relative to ask a person to hand over the keys if theyíve been drinking. Designated drivers are now common place. But as we transition to private alcohol sales, it is a great opportunity for us all to talk with our friends and family members about how to intervene when someone drinks and drives. If all else fails itís our responsibility to grab a phone and dial 911, and maybe save someoneís life.
Now hereís a piece that ran in the local newspapers about the middle of the legislative session:
2012 Mid Legislative Session Update
Jobs, the Economy, the Budget, and Distractions
About the only thing I really like about being in Olympia this year is when I get in my car and head back home to the 31st District. Donít get me wrong, a lot of the work that I do down here on your behalf is very important, but the world of politics often seems so distant from the real world that most folks live in; it can be truly frustrating at times.
You may have seen stories about this legislative session and be frustrated by a seeming lack of focus on jobs, the economy, and getting our fiscal house back in order. It is irritating at times when legislators get off track from the most important issues. I belong to a small group of legislators, often referred to by the media as the ďRoad Kill Caucus,Ē a group of moderates who seek compromise and inclusiveness in solving our states problems. We are working on a number of pieces of legislation that will increase efficiencies and decrease unnecessary spending. Last year this group was successful in passing legislation that kept down unemployment insurance and workers comp rates in hopes of spurring new employment.
The tough part now is finishing a supplemental budget during this current legislative session. Initially, most of the liberal legislators wanted to immediately find a way to raise revenue through increased taxes. I believed, as did a number of my colleagues, that the proper path forward required us to first enact additional reforms and restructuring of government and our state budget, prior to talking about new revenue. Iíve worked on and introduced legislation to do just that.
The legislature held a special session in December at which time we reduced the current budget shortfall by $480 million dollars. Some of these reductions came through legitimate reforms, and others were the implementation of one time savings. The good news is that some of the reforms from the last couple of years have resulted in a lower ďcaseload forecast.Ē What that means is that fewer people are actually seeking government assistance. Some of this came about when we decided to replace cash grants with housing vouchers in public assistance programs. I strongly supported this move. If someone really needs housing or food, letís give them a hand, but simply handing out cash sometimes encourages drug addicts and alcoholics to continue self-destructive behavior and seek out public assistance. This wastes tax dollars, and ultimately takes assistance away those truly in need and who are trying to improve their lives.
The good news is that unemployment is dropping, finally, and the revenue forecast that just came out on February 16th shows that consumer confidence, spending, and revenue are up. Our stateís Economic and Revenue Forecast Council has projected that in the next biennium we will see a 6.6% increase in our economy and revenue, which is a dramatic improvement over the last several years. This improvement is due, in part, to Boeingís announcement that the new 737 MAX will be produced here in Washington State, resulting in tens of thousands of new jobs in the next couple of decades. For each job at the Boeing Company, five additional jobs will be created with subcontractors and suppliers in our area.
Although the current economic crisis is not over, things are looking much better than they have in quite a while. I am pleased to see this positive trend and am looking forward to an improved economy and job prospects for folks in the 31st District in the next year.
Current Budget Proposal
Due to these improvements in the economy and the reform efforts that we have already undertaken, the House of Representatives has submitted two different supplemental budget proposals, one from the Republicans and one from the Democrats, neither of which relies on new taxes from the general public. Both are fairly tough, no nonsense proposals reflecting the reality of our current economic situation. There are similarities between the two proposals and itís my hope that we can merge them together to find a bipartisan solution to the budget shortfall. The legislature works best when we all work together as a team, and set partisan politics and bickering aside. In the coming weeks this process will be completed and Washington will be back on track.
As the Chair of the Public Safety Committee I also worked on important legislation that will keep citizens safe. There wasnít a lot of money to spend so we focused on making our criminal justice system more efficient, and implementing science based practices that make sure that we are being smart on crime. The one area where we did dramatically increased sentencing was when drunk drivers kill innocent citizens. Those offenders will see their sentences increased, and the money to pay for that will come through new revenue approved by the voters when they privatized liquor sales in Washington State through I-1183. Senator Roach, Representative Dahlquist and I were all either prime sponsors or co-sponsors of key pieces of criminal justice legislation.
Every ten years, after the national census, redistricting is done by a citizenís commission that equals out the number of people in each legislative district. As a result, a lot of folks are moved from one legislative district to another due to growth in some areas and static populations in others. In the final plan we were able to maintain about 90% of our current legislative district. Pam, Cathy and I fought hard to keep as much of our district together as possible. Unfortunately, we will be losing some folks to the north and east Enumclaw, north of 416th. They will be replaced by some other folks in north Auburn and south of South Prairie and Sumner. If you would like to see what the new district boundaries are, contact my office and we can get you a copy of the map showing the new and old district lines. I look forward to meeting all of the new folks in our legislative district, of whom there will be about 14,000, this coming summer.
Nationwide weíre finally seeing a very significant uptick in American manufacturing for the first time in quite a while. There are two main reasons. First, consumers and businesses that held off making major purchases during the recession are now catching up by buying everything from major appliances and cars to manufacturing tools. The second is that production costs in China have been steadily increasing, and Americans are finally getting fed up with poor quality and seeing their friends and family members jobs outsourced to foreign countries. This resurgence and pride in American manufacturing jobs is great news!
In the end, our long term economic recovery and prosperity will be closely tied to our willingness as a State and as a Nation to abandon the failed policy of buying poor quality inferior products from third world countries just to save a few dollars, while laying off and outsourcing the jobs of millions of Americans. This new resurgence in buying American made products and supporting American jobs is just a part of the spirit that will bring us back together as a country, and help heal our divided nation. We will succeed as Americans when we look for the things that unite us, rather than the ones that divide us.
There was a special legislative session in December of 2011. After that special session ended and prior to the beginning of the regular session in January, hereís a piece that ran in the local newspapers:
Time for legislators to roll up their sleeves and work together
The legislature was called into Special Session in December just as the gathering storm clouds of bad economic news seemed to be getting worse. Then suddenly during the special session we great news. Boeing and the Aerospace Machinist Union settled a long standing dispute, and then the announcement that the next generation of Boeing aircraft, the Boeing 737 MAX, will be built here in Washington State. This is great news for all of us, and will be an important part in securing our states job and economic future. Both Boeing and the Machinist Union should be congratulated for this historic agreement. For every new job created at the Boeing Company, of which there will be many, at least five additional good paying jobs are created in other private sector companies.
Although the long term news is good, and gives us a significant reason for being optimistic about our economic recovery, the legislature was still faced with a $1.4 billion budget shortfall. This number is often listed as $2 billion, but that assumes an extra $600 million ending fund balance. The actual shortfall is $1.4 billion.
The Governor had laid out a proposal for a supplemental budget that came under heavy criticism. But itís important to note that the Governorís budget proposal is nothing more than that, a proposal. The Legislature writes the budget, not the Governor. No amount of complaining can change that fact, nor the legislatureís responsibility to craft a sustainable budget, thatís our job. Other moderates and I in the legislature got right to work on trying to find solutions and reforms that would get the state back on track, and back in the black.
During the Special Session the Legislature reduced that budget shortfall by $480 million, so over a third of the work is already done when we come back in January. We also made investments to make sure that we will be turning out an educated work force that can fill the new aerospace jobs that are now on the horizon. Iím pleased to see that this initial supplemental budget had strong bipartisan support. Since the Special Session ended, other moderates and I have been working hard on a list of proposals to reform mid and upper level state government agencies and operations.
Once we head back to the regular session on January 9th Legislators have two choices; they can either watch the process, or roll up their sleeves and get to work. Weíre still in the most difficult economic times since the Great Depression. This national and global economic meltdown was unprecedented. Itís a tough job, but moderates in the legislature also see this as an extraordinary opportunity to reform and permanently alter the way we do business. The package of reform legislation that we will be introducing in January will be very controversial. Many special interests across the political spectrum, whoíve come to see their processes and programs as entitlements, will not easily embrace a lot of the ideas that we will be suggesting.
While its time to significantly realign the structure of government, itís also time for individual citizens to ask themselves hard questions about what our economy and society should look like. If we continue buying products made in China to save a few dollars, we canít expect there to be manufacturing jobs left here in the US. More and more, citizens are making an effort to buy products made by their fellow Americans, even if it costs a little bit more. If you donít like the behavior of your financial institution, itís a free market and you can take your business wherever you like. I recently did a little research and found that my homeowners and auto insurance company, which was once based in Washington, had been purchased by a foreign corporation. I went to a local agent in Enumclaw and bought new policies from an insurance company whose headquarters is here in Washington, and although Iím probably not supposed to say exactly which one, suffice to say that itís really really local.
My point is that although the great recession which began in 2008 was caused by irresponsible and reckless risks being taken by Wall Street investment firms, we as consumers have a lot more control over our financial destiny than it may seem on the surface. Where we choose to buy and how we choose to invest plays a large part in market dynamics and protecting American jobs. Now more than ever, itís important to shop local and buy local whenever possible. Even if it costs a couple dollars more, products made in America mean American manufacturing jobs. Without a manufacturing base there is no middle class. Just as its time to reform and retool how government works, itís also a good time to realize that as consumers, where we shop and who we do business with can significantly impact how businesses conduct themselves and provide more jobs in America and in our local communities.
That is not everything of course, but I wanted to give you an idea of some of the things I have been working on and how I feel on many issues. In the end, the most important thing I do is listen to citizens and work on problems and projects for them back home in the district, and that is what I actually spend most of my time on. The Legislature is more visible but what I do back here for folks is the most important.
If you do not find your answer here, please feel free to contact me and I will answer your questions as best as I can. If you have legislative business, you can contact me not only at home at 360-663-2608, but at my Olympia office number of 360-786-7866. Even better, during the legislative session, stop by for a visit, and I will show you around your capitol!
Here's what we've been working on!