Topic: Michael Baumgartner
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March 19, 2013 at 11:44 AM
This post was updated at 12:12 p.m.
By Mike Baker
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — A group of Washington state senators vowed Tuesday to increase funding for higher education by $300 million but declined to say how they would get the money at a time when lawmakers are already struggling to balance the budget.
Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner, who developed the plan supported by a GOP-dominated coalition, said it is possible to write a budget that balances state spending while increasing funding for state colleges and universities. He said it will be a matter of prioritizing where government dollars go.
“We’re going to make higher education a priority,” Baumgartner said.
Senate leaders declined to explain how they would pay for the proposal. Lawmakers already face more than a $1 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget cycle and are separately under court order to expand funding for K-12 education.
The senators also propose to require a 3 percent reduction in tuition for in-state students. They also say this will help manage the long-term financial concerns in the state’s prepaid tuition program.
Under the plan, $50 million of the new higher education money would be awarded to schools based on metrics, such as the number of undergraduates in degrees such as science or engineering, the retention rate of first-year students and the average time it takes to complete an undergraduate degree.
March 6, 2013 at 6:11 PM
OLYMPIA — Struggling to respond to a state Supreme Court order to put more money into education, some state Senate Republicans on Wednesday came up with a way to save a bit of money: reduce the size of the court.
Senate Bill 5867, introduced Wednesday morning, would reduce the court from nine members to five (the minimum allowed in the state constitution).
And how would the four out-of-luck justices be chosen?
“On June 30, 2013, all existing judges of the state supreme court, shall meet in public to cast lots by drawing straws,” the bill says. “Effective July 1,2013, the positions of the four judges casting losing lots by drawing the shortest straws shall be terminated.”
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, said the job cuts could save about $1.5 million in salary and administrative costs.
Baumgartner, R-Spokane Valley, used two of the court’s recent decisions — both of which went against conservatives — to argue in favor of the bill.
Last year, the court decided in the McCleary case that the state was not fulfilling its constitutional duty to fully fund basic education. And last week, the court declared unconstitutional an initiative-imposed two-thirds requirement for lawmakers to raise taxes.
“Every dollar we save by eliminating these four positions would be automatically funneled to K-12 education to help meet the guidelines the Supreme Court laid out in the McCleary decision,” Baumgartner said in a news release.
He added that, “based on their recent rulings on McCleary and their rationale behind the decision to throw out the will of the people regarding the two-thirds tax rule, I expect that the court will support this approach.”
The bill hasn’t been scheduled for a hearing.
October 5, 2012 at 8:52 AM
WASHINGTON — For the first time in his campaign, U.S. Senate hopeful Michael Baumgartner has proposes to raise taxes — a penny-a-gallon increase in the 18.4-cent federal gas tax.
Baumgartner, a Republican freshman state senator from Spokane who is running against Maria Cantwell, would not use the extra money to shore up the chronically underfunded Highway Trust Fund. Instead, he would reserve the estimated $2 billion a year in extra revenue to provide medical care for veterans.
The tax plan is the second time this week Baumgartner has staked out a position on high-profile issues ahead of his first debate with Cantwell next Friday. On Wednesday, he announced his support for Initiative 502 that will ask Washington residents to legalize retail sales of small amounts of marijuana to adults.
Cantwell opposes legalizing recreational use of pot, though she said she would abide by the voters’ decision in November.
Baumgartner said the penny increase in the gas tax would be temporary and expire once the number of U.S. troops in global “conflict zones” drops below 1,000. Currently, there are some 68,000 U.S. trooops in Afghanistan alone.
Baumgartner and Cantwell will hold a televised debate in Seattle October 12.
October 3, 2012 at 1:28 PM
WASHINGTON — Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Michael Baumgartner on Wednesday endorsed Initiative 502 to legalize retail sales of pot, calling the war on the illicit drug a matter of national security.
Baumgartner, a freshman state senator who is challenging Democrat Maria Cantwell, once worked for the State Department in Afghanistan to help farmers grow alternative crops to opium poppies. Baumgartner said his experience convinced him that criminalizing marijuana for adults only benefits drug cartels and puts American lives in danger.
Baumgartner joins a growing list of government and law-enforcement officials who back the pot initiative, including Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and former U.S. Attorney John McKay.
Baumgartner said in a statement that regulating sales of small amounts of pot to those over 21 would generate taxes and free up law enforcement to focus on major drug traffickers:
“I think I-502 is a responsible step towards bringing the illicit drug economy out of the shadows and into the open,” he said. “By licensing small business to grow, process, and sell marijuana, we enable police instead to devote its resources to dealing with serious crime. And we will generate funds that would be dedicated to health care, public health education, and youth use prevention programs.”
September 14, 2012 at 10:58 AM
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and her Republican challenger Michael Baumgartner will debate before a live audience on Oct. 12, the first meeting between the candidates in a race that has generated little heat so far.
The debate at KCTS television in Seattle will be moderated by broadcast journalist Enrique Cerna and Kim Abel, co-president of Washington League of Women Voters. It will air on KCTS and affiliated stations throughout the state. The debate format hasn’t been decided.
Baumgartner, a freshman state senator, is badly trailing Cantwell in fundraising and at the polls. Cantwell is running for her third term.
Baumgartner has been eager to debate Cantwell, and has accused her of dodging him. He wasn’t the first Cantwell challenger to make that claim. When Cantwelll made her first run for the Senate in 2000, her Democratic primary rival Deborah Senn, frustrated at Cantwell’s rising poll numbers, launched her first advertising spot around the tagline, “Hello in there! Maria?”
Baumgartner called for additional debates in eastern and southwest Washington. In its statement, Cantwell’s campaign said it continues to review invitations for “additional joint appearances” and community forums.
Baumgartner, who served for a short time as a diplomat in the Middle East, has made foreign policy a central part of his campaign — and is hoping to make it a focus in the debate.
The statement from Cantwell spokes
woman Kelly Steele, however, made it clear Cantwell would rather talk about domestic matters:
“While Senator Cantwell’s focus remains squarely on fighting to pass legislation like the Veterans Job Corps Act and an extension of the sales tax deduction, she looks forward to discussing her record of tireless advocacy for Washington jobs — from apples to aerospace — along with her vision to grow jobs and boost Washington exports in the future.”
August 23, 2012 at 7:02 PM
Note: This post has been updated to include the position of Congressional candidate Bill Driscoll.
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob McKenna is drawing another distinction with his national party — this time on immigration.
With Republicans preparing for next week’s national convention in Tampa, Fla., the platform committee decided Thursday to adopt a plank calling for the removal of federal funding from universities that allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition.
Washington state is one of 10 states whose public colleges and universities do just that, allowing illegal immigrants to pay the lower rates if they can prove they went to high school here. In 2010-11, 557 undocumented students submitted affidavits to receive in-state tuition, 85 percent of them to attend community and technical colleges.
Asked about the McKenna campaign’s position on the issue, spokesman Charles McCray pointed to an Associated Press article published in May. The article describes McKenna as supportive of in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants as a way to increase young people going to college.
Earlier this week, McKenna broke from the national platform committee by saying he supports “a woman’s right to choose under the laws in this state.” The committee had decided to oppose abortion in all cases.
On the immigration issue, McKenna was joined by at least two other state Republicans: U.S. Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner and Congressional candidate Bill Driscoll.
Baumgartner, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, said he viewed it as a state’s rights issue.
“I think we should make our own higher ed policy here in the state of Washington,” he said. “Federal funds for things like research and important scientific research shouldn’t be tied to state’s issues.”
A spokesman for Driscoll said the 6th district candidate “would not vote to cut off federal funds to universities over this issue.”
Republican John Koster, running for Congress in the 1st district, did not return telephone messages seeking comment.
And a spokesman for the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, said the campaign would have to study the language of the platform plank.
August 23, 2012 at 6:08 PM
Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell has received an endorsement from an unusual source — Dale Foreman, the former leader of the Washington State Republican Party.
Foreman, now an attorney, apple grower and chairman of the U.S. Apple Association, said he is supporting the two-term incumbent’s re-election over Republican challenger Michael Baumgartner because of her work in support of the apple industry.
He cited Cantwell’s work on a bill to bring more agricultural workers to the state and another to increase funding for farming research. Both bills are stalled in Congress because of Republican opposition (they oppose the first because it could offer illegal immigrants jobs and the second for funding reasons).
“I support Maria Cantwell because she has done such a good job for the apple industry and that’s a huge part of the Washington state economy,” Foreman said. “I’m happy to be able to support a senator who I think is working for Washington state.”
Foreman served as the House Majority Leader in the state Legislature and nearly earned the Republican nomination for governor in 1996. He represented the GOP and Dino Rossi in a lawsuit challenging Gov. Chris Gregoire’s 2004 election.
He said he has never before voted for a Democrat and still plans to vote for Republican Mitt Romney.
He announced his endorsement at a U.S. Apple Association conference last week. He also co-hosted a fundraiser for Cantwell with other apple growers last month.
Baumgartner, a state senator from Spokane, downplayed the endorsement as a case of an industry group hedging its bets by supporting an incumbent favorite.
He said he strongly supports the Washington state agriculture industry and would be more effective than Cantwell at working in a bipartisan manner.
August 22, 2012 at 6:10 AM
Democrats are falling all over themselves with unbounded enthusiasm. Republican Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri and his off-the-wall crack about rape and pregnancy — he said women’s bodies somehow reject pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape” — are an irresistible gift for the D’s. And they accept. It took U.S. Sen. Patty Murray about 10 minutes — OK, it was 48 hours — to send out a fund-raising letter on behalf of Akin’s Missouri Senate opponent, Democrat Claire McCaskill.
Here is an excerpt from her -hurry-up–and-send money letter:
“You’ve probably heard about Todd Akin’s offensive comments by now. So let’s stop and think about what it really means, and what we can do about it.
It’s one of the most revolting comments I have heard in a while. On Sunday, Todd Akin — the Republican Senate candidate in Missouri — said pregnancy from rape is “really rare” because, “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Todd Akin does not belong in the U.S. Senate.”
McCaskill is/was considered one of the most endangered Dems in the Senate. She was trailing Akin before his inflammatory comments and is still trailing him in Democratic polling.
Washington’s other senator, Maria Cantwell, up for re-election against an anti-abortion candidate, Michael Baumgartner, also did not waste time trying to raise money off the Akin blunder. She, too, sent out a fund-raising letter on behalf of herself and her Senate colleague Monday. It read in part:
“Akin’s response is so unbelievable, so callous, so insensitive, and just so outrageous, I barely even know where to start.
But here’s one thing we can do right now: stand up and support Claire McCaskill and make sure Todd Akin isn’t elected to the Senate.
These comments were not poorly chosen words from a long-shot candidate, and this isn’t his first time getting involved in this issue. Todd Akin is a Congressman from Missouri, and he recently partnered with GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan to sponsor legislation that would redefine rape to only include “forcible” instances.
And this isn’t the isolated position of some zealot in Missouri. Maria’s opponent right here in Washington state also opposes the right to choose, and in the case of rape would force the victim to have her attacker’s child.”
In fairness, folks, the Politics Northwest blog ran similar comments of outrage from fellow Republicans two days ago. Attorney general Rob McKenna and others came out in unison telling Akin to hit the showers.
What is going on in Spokane? State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane and running for election, has posted a picture on his Facebook page that has Republicans and Democrats alike telling him to remove it. The photo, as you can see below, is a tad personal. It features Shea campaigning in front of the house of his opponent, Amy Biviano. I checked the page Tuesday and the posting was still there, even though Spokane County Republicans urged him to take it down.
For future reference, Secretary of State Sam Reed is an optimist. Remember, his forecast of 46 percent participation in the earlier-than-imaginable Aug. 7 primary? The final number, says spokesman David Ammons, was 38.5 percent.
Two business-oriented groups are supporting Initiative 1240, the charter school measure.
A lot of time and money has been spent trying to figure out younger voters, those roughly ages 18 to 29. They had something to do with Barack Obama’s 2008 victory. But why are they so glib? Detached? Will they or won’t they turn out in 2012? An opinion piece in the New York Times offers some insight.
August 21, 2012 at 4:51 PM
Republican Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner apologized Tuesday afternoon for sending a vulgar e-mail to local journalist Josh Feit Monday night. He meant it to be “a personal e-mail,” he said.
“This was a follow-up e-mail to a previous conversation with a local blogger,” Baumgartner said in a written statement. “I apologize to Josh for my strong language.”
He went on to say he sent the message out of frustration that more media attention hasn’t been given to his campaign platform to end the war in Afghanistan. “The problem is that many media outlets, including PubliCola, do not want to talk about why these men and women continue to be killed. They don’t want to discuss Maria Cantwell’s record supporting the war in Afghanistan or a smarter foreign policy that can save thousands of lives in the future,” he wrote.
Feit published the e-mail Tuesday on his politics blog, PubliCola, Tuesdsay afternoon. He said he interviewed Baumgartner, a state senator running against Democrat Sen. Maria Cantwell, Monday to get his take on the political news of the day: comments made by U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Missouri, about rape and pregnancy. During the interview, Baumgartner expressed frustration that social issues were getting so much attention, while his biggest issue, ending the war in Afghanistan, was not.
Then, at 10:45 p.m. Monday, Baumgartner e-mailed Feit a photo of himself and a Navy SEAL, Pat Feeks, who died recently in Afghanistan. “Take a good look and then go (expletive) yourself,” Baumgartner wrote.
In an interview Tuesday, Baumgartner confirmed he sent the e-mail and said it was part of a larger conversation, which he would not describe. “It was sent from my personal e-mail. It was a personal comment to Josh,” he said.
Feit said he responded with a question mark, and Tuesday he called the campaign and got no response. He reached Baumgartner, he said, but was disconnected before he could ask any questions.
“I was bewildered when I got that e-mail last night,” he said.
Baumgartner apologized several months ago for going after Cantwell for being unmarried, saying she ”frequently voted to undermine the role of parents in child-rearing.”
August 20, 2012 at 2:50 PM
Updated to include comments from Republican John Koster, candidate in Washington’s 1st Congressional District contest.
Several prominent Washington state Republicans Monday joined a growing chorus calling on U.S. Rep Todd Akin to drop out of the Missouri Senate race.
Akin, a veteran conservative congressman challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, is under fire for comments he made Sunday about rape and abortion. Asked whether abortion should be allowed in the case of rape, Akin said pregnancy is unlikely — the body somehow prevents the pregnancy – in cases of “legitimate rape.”
He has since repeatedly apologized, saying he was misinformed and misspoke. Despite blistering criticism, he has insisted he is staying in the race.
On Monday, Washington state’s top-ranking Republican questioned that decision.
“Rep. Akin’s remarks are both deeply offensive and ignorant,” said Attorney General Rob McKenna, who is moderate on abortion and running for governor. “He should give the people of Missouri a real choice for the U.S. Senate this November by withdrawing from the race, and allowing a replacement on the ballot.”
Kirby Wilbur, the chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, was equally blunt.
“Kirby believes Akin’s statement was ridiculous, insulting, and reprehensible and that Akin should step aside and let someone else run,” said Meredith Kenny, party spokeswoman.
The criticism was just as fierce from Republicans who, like Akin, oppose abortion in cases of rape.
Snohomish County Councilman John Koster, who is running for Congress in the 1st district, called Akin’s language about “legitimate” rape “reprehensible and bizarre.”
“I can’t believe anybody would actually say that,” said Koster, who agreed Akin should step down.
He added that he wanted it to be known that “not all pro-life people are crazy.”
Meanwhile, the state party’s 2012 Senate nominee, Michael Baumgartner, released a statement calling Akin’s comments “inexcusable.”
“I completely disagree with Mr. Akin’s ignorant remarks regarding the links between pregnancy and rape,” Baumgartner said in the statement. “To belittle the trauma rape victims go through is extremely offensive, and I am horrified that he would show such little empathy.”
In a follow-up email, Baumgartner spokeswoman Jami Herring clarified that the candidate “is not issuing a call for him to step aside, but would support finding an alternative candidate.”
Baumgarter is pro-life and has also publicly spoken against abortion in cases of rape. He is challenging Maria Cantwell in a race that is not expected to be close.
Before this incident, McCaskill was considered among the most vulnerable Democratic senators in the country.
Republicans are hoping to take back the Senate this fall.
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