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Angel says Majority Coalition kept 'a lot of bad things from happening'
This is the second of a two-part series of an interview with Sen. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard), who just completed her first session in the state Senate representing the 26th Legislative District.
District 26 State Sen. Jan Angel said the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC), headed by Democratic Senators Tim Sheldon and Rodney Tom, “kept a lot of bad things from happening” in the Senate this past session.
Angel, also a member of the Majority Coalition Caucus, said there were two bills that would have mandated that businesses pay nine days of sick leave and three weeks paid vacation for full-time employees.
“Those two bills would have added the cost (to business owners) of doing business in the state $1.1 billion,” she said. “We kept that from happening. We kept the $15-an-hour minimum wage off the back of the employers.”
Angel (R-Port Orchard) said the MCC played defense against some of the bills and helped business owners “more than they will know.”
She expects the $15 minimum wage to be a major issue in 2015.
“That is totally out of government’s realm to tell business owners what you have to pay employees,” said Angel. “If you have to pay that for entry-level people, what about the people above them who have worked for three or four years for an employer.”
She also feels that the increased minimum wage would eliminate jobs.
“You can’t make $15 per hour if you don’t have a job,” she noted.
Angel said President Obama’s health care plan has created a “double-whammy” for residents who will have to pay a penalty because they can’t afford the health insurance.
“We've got so much going on,” she said. “This is not the time to hit people with a 12-cents-a-gallon gas tax or one dollar a gallon for climate change. We've got to have some common sense on what our people can truly afford until we can get people working again.”
Angel also noted that the “baby boomers” will be hitting the health care system as senior citizens.
“They’re going to be hitting it hard and heavy very, very soon,” Angel noted. “Our assisted living and senior homes need help. They will not be able to survive long the way healthcare is structured for them.”
Angel said transportation will be another major issue, especially in the 26th District.
“Our district is running into issues with getting on and off State Highway 16,” explained Angel. “We’re lucky in Port Orchard because both of our exits — coming off — have a long enough exit that we are not backing out onto Highway 16.”
She said Port Orchard and Gig Harbor have only two major in-and-out exits, but she’ll be looking at streets that could possibly be used as cross overs.
“Both of the cities straddle Highway 16,” she said. “We need another way to bring traffic from one part to the other.”
Angel said she is looking at an initiative, backed by the Washington Education Association, that would require smaller classroom sizes in schools and hiring at least 12,000 teachers.
“There is no indication where the money is coming from and we’re looking at an increased cost of $3.4 billion in education,” she said. “My fear is it will sound good to voters. But where are we going to get the $3.4 billion?Then the legislature has to be the bad guy and come out and tax the people.”
She said school districts need to look and see if they have extra classrooms.
“We need to make sure we have enough classrooms, otherwise you have a bill that has been passed with no recourse,” Angel said.
Angel said there is funding in education for building new schools, but not any funding to repair or refurbish older school buildings.
As for as the McCleary decision, she feels the courts should be “calling the shots” when they are not making legislative policy.
“They are not telling us where to find the money,” Angel said.
She noted the legislature added $1 billion to education in 2013 and another $600 million this year.
Angel said Gov. Jay Inslee is not providing leadership needed for the state.
“I saw no leadership from Gov. Inslee,” Angel said. “When we had [the]parties almost on the same page, he came in and threw hand grenades that blew everything up and we had to start all over. That’s not leadership.”
She added communication is lacking, which makes her job as a senator more difficult.