November 17, 2014
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Republicans win final close state House races; members of Congress prepare for power shifts

The Republican wave continued last week as counting of late-arriving ballots showed victories for GOP candidates. Dan Griffey defeated 35th District Democratic state Rep. Kathy Haigh of Shelton in his third run.

Since our last newsletter, in addition to Dan Griffey winning the state House seat, Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, and Mellanie Stambaugh, R-Puyallup, were all declared winners, unseating House Democrats in each of those races, giving House Republicans in Olympia a pick-up of four seats.

There will be another new face for House Democrats as the Pierce and King county councils prepare to appoint a replacement for the late Rep. Roger Freeman, 48, who passed away from colon cancer in late October. A Celebration of Life service for Freeman will be held Saturday, Nov. 22, 1-3 p.m., at Our Savior’s Baptist Church, 701 S. 320th Street in Federal Way.

At the national level, wins by Republicans in U.S. Senate races mean Washington's two Democratic senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, will be in the minority for the first time in eight years, The Seattle Times notes.

At the same time, Washington's newest member of Congress, Republican Dan Newhouse, held onto a lead over Clint Didier and has been declared the winner in the race to succeed long-time Rep. Doc Hastings. Newhouse is in Washington, D.C., for orientation. A farmer, Newhouse said he hopes to be appointed to the House Agriculture Committee, where he can work on changing immigration laws to ease the farmworker labor shortage.

Finally, with polling indicating Initiative 1351, the ballot measure to address class sizes in Washington’s public schools, would pass with overwhelming voter support, it was a surprise to many that the measure was losing on election night and barely eeked out a win. This initiative, mostly funded by the largest union in the state —the Washington Education Association — has serious budget implications, particularly considering the McCleary education funding mandates. However, when Rich Wood, the WEA union spokesperson, was asked by a reporter at PubliCola if the group would offer up specific funding/tax ideas to the Legislature to pay for the initiative, he said, “No.”

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Long term, transportation funding is school funding

By The News Tribune editorial board

"Children before concrete" is one of the catchphrases of people who've been fighting transportation funding in the Legislature.

It's a false choice. Smart investments in highway and transit infrastructure don't steal money from schools and social welfare programs. They create jobs and expand the economy, helping pay for public services that benefit children and everyone else.

The 2015 Legislature will rightly focus on increasing public school funding, as mandated by the state Supreme Court's 2012 McCleary decision. But this shouldn't mean stiffing the state's infrastructure needs. It's not an either-or dilemma: Further investment in transportation is needed to fully fund public education over the long haul.

Click here for the full column in The News Tribune

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