Democrat Laurie Jinkins seeks re-election to position 1 in Washington State House of Representatives for the 27th Legislative District. She was first elected in 2010. Jinkins works as the deputy director of Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department.
Her challenger is Republican Steven Cook.
Q) What makes you the best choice for voters in this campaign?
COOK: I believe I can more effectively work to get things accomplished on the budget – so that we do not have to go into extra sessions; having spent 12 years on George Town Council, where we had to balance the budget without regular tax increases.
JINKINS: I bring two decades of proven, collaborative leadership and a track record of seeking out common ground to achieve goals. I am running for office not to hold an elected position but to tackle the critical problems facing our families and region. In my career as an assistant attorney general, public health leader, Tacoma Community College trustee and active community volunteer, I have earned a reputation as a principled, collaborative and thoughtful advocate willing to take on tough issues and get results. I am proud of my track record during my first term as a state representative, and look forward to returning to Olympia to continue to take on entrenched budgetary and other issues.
Q) As you are interacting with voters, what is the top concern they have with state government they express to you?
COOK: Budgetary concerns – and the fact that they do not have any money to pay more in taxes, especially in light of $4 a gallon gasoline and higher food prices.
JINKINS: My constituents are very concerned with unemployment and the economy, affordable healthcare, and access to high quality education for their families. I have spent my first term addressing these three things. I have taken on reforming our revenue system so that it is fair, adequate and stable. I sponsored a bill that would eliminate tax loopholes for big banks to provide funding to education. There is no way we will be able to adequately fund our education system without reforming our revenue system. While on the capital budget committee I helped push through the jobs package that ultimately passed the legislature. This will not only help build new schools and crucial infrastructure, it will also create 18,000 jobs across the State. Finally, as Vice Chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, I helped prepare Washington for implementation of Affordable Care Act. Last session, we created the Washington Health Exchange, which assures many more people will have access to health insurance. I will continue to focus my work on increasing access to care and controlling health care costs.
Q) What will the Legislature need to do in the near future in regard to the state budget?
COOK: They need to focus on the budget, until it is done, and then if there is time, work on other items – and their fiscal impacts. Personally, I believe the Legislature needs to go to priorities of government process and zero-based budgeting.
JINKINS: We need to close tax loopholes that do not benefit Washingtonians and diversify our tax base. States that rely solely on income tax to generate revenue are in no better shape than those that rely too heavily on sales tax. We need a tax system that is fair, adequate and stable. It will take a group of committed legislators some time to replace our regressive system with a fair, progressive tax system. I believe I have strongly evidenced my commitment to do so during my one term in the legislature. I was the prime sponsor of the only loophole closure bill that made it to the House floor in 2011. While that bill did not get the two-thirds majority required by I-1053, the bill did become the basis for a constitutional challenge to the initiative. The case was recently heard by the state Supreme Court, and its outcome will heavily impact how the Legislature handles the budget.
Question 4. What can be done to increase collaboration between Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature?
COOK: I believe that getting them to focus solely on budgetary issues, until the budget is passed, would go a long way to getting them to work together more effectively.
JINKINS: By and large there is a great deal of collaboration between Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature. The vast majority of bills are voted off the floor of the House unanimously. Perhaps press coverage recognizing this bi-partisan work would help.
There are no two people, let alone 98 elected officials, who agree on everything. Each legislator comes to Olympia to help out his or her district and the entire state. And there are valid disagreements on priorities, values and approaches. Even when we disagree, it is important that our debates remain respectful. In my first term I have worked across party lines to set goals and priorities, and then worked together to build consensus between the parties to pass bills that will help everyone. There will always be differences, but we are able to work across party lines when we focus on what brings us together.