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Bailey addresses ferries, Extension

Jason Joiner talks with Rep. Barbara Bailey about business taxes after a town hall-style meeting in Oak Harbor last week. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Jason Joiner talks with Rep. Barbara Bailey about business taxes after a town hall-style meeting in Oak Harbor last week.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

Washington state Representatives Barbara Bailey and Norma Smith toured the 10th District Saturday, stopping in Langley, Oak Harbor and Stanwood to gather public input and concerns.

The Republican duo’s informal weekend coffee klatch at the Oak Harbor branch of Skagit Valley College drew upwards of 30 people, including a few Anacortes residents.

Bailey and Smith touched on concerns brought forth by the group, including continued and dependable access to the island, how much federal stimulus money Island County may receive, where Lottery money goes and the future of WSU Extension programs in Island County.

Mark Vanderboll, whose kids participated in 4-H for 14 years, is particularly concerned about the continuation of Extension programs.

“The thing that bothers me as a citizen, is that you’ve got hundreds of volunteers involved in WSU. What would happen if Judy Feldman goes away?” Vanderboll said, referring to the possible loss of Island County WSU Interim Director Judy Feldman, if more cuts are made.

In addition to the representatives’ discussion of local concerns, Bailey and Smith touched on the growing state deficit and less-that-expected state tax revenue.

The latest budget gap is estimated at nearly $9 billion over the next two years.

“It was over estimated at what the continued tax revenue was going to be,” she said. “It’s critical that the economy turns around.”

But the state must be aware of the effects of taxing state manufacturing and e-commerce, Smith cautioned.

“What’s the new buzzword? No new taxes,” Smith said, adding that the state must support small businesses and manufacturing, or entrepreneurs will take their business — and tax dollars — to another state.

“We want manufacturing here. We’ve heard that from across the state. They are waiting to see if tax credits are going to go away,” Smith said. “We are competing against other states.”

Bailey agreed, while reaffirming her commitment “to a no new tax budget.”

The pair also addressed the overwhelming concern for the state ferry system.

“We’re working very hard to convince the state that the ferry system is our water highway,” Bailey said. “We need a workable boat and a minimum of two,” referring to the troubled Keystone to Port Townsend route.

Smith called upon those at the meeting to get involved in the political process.

“We need your help in helping us to advocate for sound fiscal policy,” Smith said. “We are advocating as much as we can at night and after hours on the ferry situation to make sure we end up with boats being built, to restore Keystone/Port Townsend, to make sure that we are planning for the future that the monies are being used appropriately and that we’re not spending more money, as was the situation when I arrived last year. We have got huge work to do.”

Bailey has high hopes that the banking industry will soon turn around.

“I think that we’re really moving out of the credit freeze,” she said, “so that we can get capital flowing to help small businesses and get our economy stimulated.”

The bottom line, according to Bailey, is that politicians need to cut agency spending

“Sometimes, in Olympia, there’s just not a lot of commonsense down there,” Bailey said. “We just need to better manage. Just like you have to do.”

And she’s confident that progress will be made this year.

“I think we have a lot of people, both Democrats and Republicans, working together to do good things for our state,” Bailey said.

According to Smith, the state isn’t out of the woods.

“Now we’re facing this critical situation and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

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