Rep. Patricia Lantz has served the 26th Legislative District since 1997—and was reelected to another term last November. Now, as a new legislative session begins, Key Pen News spoke with Lantz about her views and priorities.
Key Peninsula News: I’m guessing that the budget shortfall qualifies as the most pressing issue that the state faces. How can that be dealt with?
Pat Lantz: Well, one has to make decisions. We start off with a priorities-based process. Then you have to look for where there are more efficient ways to do things. This is the third budget in a row where we have had major gaps in funding. I’m not talking about new programs — I’m talking about maintenance. Many factors, like the growth in the population, are beyond our control. Which has the highest priority? Education or health care? The choices become more painful as we move along. Inevitably there will be things like looking at new user fees. There isn’t anyone down here who thinks that won’t be painful.
KPN: What about new taxes?
PL: Well, there has to be a public will to accept that as a necessity. We have to balance that carefully against the potential danger to our recovering economy. How do you find the balance? One of the best things to do is generate new jobs… because that will make the pie bigger. But that’s long range.
KPN: Given the fact that Democrats will control both the Senate and the House during this session— how will that play into budgetary decisions?
PL: It means we will want to make certain that we are doing the right thing for the long term, and not find ourselves in the situation when the Democrats had the majority in the past, and made mistakes that the public didn’t like. Especially where taxes are concerned. That’s one of the reasons why I think it’s unlikely that you will see major tax increases.
KPN: What is your focus right now?
PL: I’m signing onto a bill that would require all state agencies to submit to regular performance audits. It passed the House the last year—but was killed by a Republican Senate. That means it could pass this time around.
I’m also supporting a periodic review of all tax incentives to look at whether they deliver the benefits that they were supposed to when they were passed. We’re looking at court funding and what we might be able to do to relieve some of the burden on county courts, thereby improving the overall system.
KPN: What about the Key Peninsula? What are the priorities out here?
PL: On the Key Peninsula, we need to pay special attention to early childhood development. The second issue would be the healthcare system. It’s a crisis of access and funding. What can we do to better cover the health needs of our citizens? We have a crisis we can’t put off much longer. The budget crisis makes it more difficult.
The other thing is that we’re on the road to economic recovery but we need to focus on the right things. The Key Peninsula needs to have job opportunities. Transportation is a part of economic development. Good roads get you to good jobs.
KPN: What about the Trust Fund Transfer program that allows the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to exchange, transfer, or sell certain parcels? Specifically a 360- acre property near 144th & State Route 302 that has been discussed as a potential park? Do you support that effort?
PL: I’m really excited about that! This is a nifty deal. Trust Fund Transfer is a means of transferring the value of the timber into the School Construction Fund. You don’t take the timber, but rather the value of it which benefits schools.
KPN: Do you think the transfer will take place?
PL: It is going to happen because it’s high up on DNR’s list. It’s something I want, something that Rep. Derek Kilmer wants, and something that Pierce County Councilman Terry Lee wants. I met with DNR Commissioner Doug Sutherland and he was very positive.
Rep. Lantz can be reached at 360-786- 7964. For more information about Lantz, and an email template, visit her Webpage at www1.leg.wa.gov/house/lantz.
UNDERWRITTEN BY NEWSMATCH/MIAMI FOUNDATION, THE ANGEL GUILD, ROTARY CLUB OF GIG HARBOR, ADVERTISERS, DONORS AND PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT LOCAL, INDEPENDENT NONPROFIT NEWS