Rob McKenna (R) - Candidate for WA Governor - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Rob McKenna (R) - Candidate for WA Governor

Rob McKenna (R) is running for WA Governor Rob McKenna (R) is running for WA Governor

Political Party: Republican
Education: Sammamish High School, University of Washington, University of Chicago School of Law
Spouse: Marilyn McKenna
Religion: Catholic
Date of Birth: 10/1/1962

Background:

I am running for Governor to take our state in a New Direction. State government's overspending and deficits have hurt Washington's business environment, reduced job creation, and cheated our children by reducing the share of the state's budget spent on education. I know we can do better, and I have a clear vision to get us there. My wife, Marilyn, and I have been married for 26 years and have four children. I started my public service career in local government, winning three terms on the King County Council, and I currently serve as your state Attorney General.


Please elaborate on your position below

On Economic Issues

Tax Policy --- Unlike my opponent and his Olympia allies, I do not look first to raising taxes to  solve our problems. As Governor, I'll do what I've done as Attorney General, figuring out top priorities and funding those programs first. I believe, as does the majority of our state, that education is our first priority and that the state budget can grow as the economy grows. It is a shame that it took a recent state Supreme Court decision to point out that the politicians need to follow our state constitution and fund education first. As governor, I will have the discipline to invest a large share of state budget growth into education while reprioritizing existing state funds. In fact, I've already released a specific plan to do just that. And it's about more than just spending discipline. All state tax preferences and incentives should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are achieving their job creation goals; existing education spending should be reviewed to find savings from cutting administration and overhead costs, as our State Auditor has suggested; and state general government should be shrunk to free up tax dollars for education.

Job Creation --- State government can do more to help job creation in our state. First, we need to make it less expensive for the private sector to hire new workers by reducing overlapping regulations and cutting red tape. It's time to end the state's workers compensation monopoly, so we can lower costs for employers and employees. We also need a change in attitude in Olympia's bureaucracies to one that is friendly to job creation and aware of the negative impact excessive regulations can have on our economic competitiveness. Education, too, is a job creation issue. To ensure our kids earn the jobs of tomorrow, we need a reformed, fully-funded public education system and a renewed commitment to our universities.

Unemployment --- Washington's unemployment rate is stuck at levels far too high, yet many  people are surprised to learn that tens of thousands of open jobs in our state remain unfilled. Businesses that need skilled workers for good-paying jobs haven't found enough qualified applicants to hire. We need to do a much better job of developing the skills and education which workers need to land these jobs. Our public education system, community and technical colleges, and universities need to put a greater emphasis on the knowledge necessary to earn the best jobs, including Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Washington is not producing nearly enough engineers to replace retiring engineers or fill new positions. We have great opportunities in vocational programs as well. Many good jobs don't require a college degree but do require education beyond high school and practical skills.

On Social Issues

Same Sex Marriage --- I believe that marriage is a union of one man and one woman. I recognize that not everyone shares my views on this, and that is why the voters will have their say this fall. As Governor, I will uphold the law as the voters make it. As a voter, I voted for Referendum 71 to provide legal rights for same-sex couples, but will not for Referendum 74.


Abortion --- As Catholics, Marilyn and I believe that life begins at conception. We also recognize  that after conception two lives are intertwined, the child's and the mother's. In accordancewith our faith, we would offer support to any woman who asked for our help, in hopes she would to choose to have her baby, not an abortion. It is her choice to make, however, within the parameters established in law by the voters. I support that law and our existing, voter- approved state law which guarantees women access to insurance coverage for reproductive healthcare.

Marijuana In Washington --- I do not believe that it is wise to legalize at the state level a  product that will remain illegal under federal law, or to start a distribution system that would  put the state itself at legal risk. Medical professionals have established the value of marijuana for some patients, and that system should be allowed to continue. As advocates of medical marijuana have been pointing out, the legalization initiative on November's ballot could jeopardize medical users.


On Health Care

I support changes to the health care system so that more people can receive the care they need. However, we cannot allow health care spending to continue eating up a bigger and bigger share of our state budget in a way that shortchanges our priorities and puts at risk programs that help our most vulnerable. We need to change the existing incentives in the health care system for doctors and patients. Regarding providers, it is time to phase out the fee-for-service system that rewards ordering tests and procedures, not healthy outcomes. For patients, we should move to more consumer-directed health plans that give people an incentive to be more cost-conscious. At the state level, in order to manage our Medicaid program more effectively, we need to receive more flexibility from the federal government so that efficiency and cost-savings are rewarded, not punished with federal funding cuts.


On Education

My priority is for the state to have the finest public education system in the country, from early childhood through higher education. Washington is an innovative state, and we need to be a leader in education innovation as well. Our state has some of the best minds in education reform at the Gates Foundation and University of Washington's Center for Reinventing Public Education, yet our public education system isn't utilizing their best ideas.

To do right by our kids and ensure our long-term economic health, it is vital that we learn from other states which have greatly improved their student achievement rates. We should revamp teacher evaluation systems and tie those evaluations to compensation, retention and promotion decisions – not just rely on seniority. At the university level, tuition costs have risen dramatically as state support has eroded, making it more difficult for middle class families to afford college and making it harder for students to get the classes they need to graduate on time. We need to return to a 50/50 deal with in-state students, where the state covers 50% of the costs of attending a state school. This can't happen overnight, but as the economy recovers and the state budget outlook improves, we need to prioritize new funds toward our K-12 and university systems.


On Transportation

Leaders in our state have allowed our transportation infrastructure to reach a state of crisis. On issues of moving freight and getting people through our crowded cities, politicians have kicked the can down the road. My goal as governor is to define the vision for meeting the challenges facing our state, and then providing leadership for solving those problems. In transportation, that means convening key stakeholders focused on the goal of what the next round of investments the state can afford should look like in Washington. That project list needs to be accompanied by a funding plan that meets with voter approval so they can see that their investment will be well-spent and make a difference in their daily lives. We don't need more blue ribbon commissions and studies. The next governor needs to show some leadership, make decisions and get projects completed.

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