By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
Republican Kevin Morrison didn’t file to run against state Rep. Marko Liias, D-Everett, but Morrison will be on the ballot opposite Liias this fall nonetheless.
Morrison undertook a write-in campaign against Liias, who had been running unopposed, and got 2 percent of the vote in the August primary.
By virtue of having received 1 percent or more of the vote, and by being one of the top two finishers, Morrison made the ballot, Snohomish County elections manager Garth Fell said.
“I thought that as poor representation as we’re getting from Marko that someone certainly was going to file against him” during the initial period in May, Morrison said.
When no one did file, “I felt it was my duty as a citizen to stand up for the people.”
Morrison, 54, of Edmonds, is a former phone company employee living on disability. Liias, 31, has been a state legislator for nearly five years after spending three years on the Mukilteo City Council.
Liias represents the 21st District, along with Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, D-Edmonds, and Sen. Paull Shin, D-Mukilteo. The district covers the southwestern part of Snohomish County, including most of Mukilteo, Lynnwood and Edmonds.
One of Morrison’s beefs with Liias is his opposition to the “two-thirds” rule, in which, per several successful initiatives, any tax increase must achieve a two-thirds majority to pass.
Liias’ opposition amounts to “overturning the will of the people,” Morrison said.
The Legislature in early 2010 waived the two-thirds requirement, as it is allowed to do with any initiative per state law, to approve a series of taxes and fees to cover a budget shortfall.
Liias said lawmakers have been living within the two-thirds rule the past two years, after it was approved again by voters in the fall of 2010.
Still, he said, “I don’t support the two-thirds requirement because it gives some legislators more influence than others.”
It makes no distinction between tax loopholes and straight taxes, he said.
“If it takes a simple majority to create a loophole, it should take a simple majority to get rid of a loophole,” Liias said.
Morrison also criticized Liias for increases in state spending over the past 20 years while, at the same time, the state has had trouble fully funding education.
“Where’s all that money been going?” he said.
It’s been going to health programs and public safety, for example, in addition to education, Liias said.
“I’ve worked hard to make sure we balance the budget,” he said. “I am frustrated we don’t have the resources we need to provide the best quality education for our kids.”
Liias said he supports fundraising ideas such as a tax on people who make more than $1 million per year, and selling space for advertising on school buses.
“I’m willing to look at big ideas, small ideas, whatever it takes to get more resources for education,” he said.
Liias said another priority is finding ways to help small businesses and, in turn, the economy. A tax credit was proposed last year to reward small businesses for hiring but it didn’t pass because of concerns about cost, Liias said. He supports reintroducing it.
He’s also worked on workers’ compensation reform and to keep unemployment insurance rates from going up, he said.
“I’ve been doing my best to keep the cost low and affordable,” Liias said.
Morrison said the biggest need for business is less regulation.
He also has concerns about transportation. He’d like to see less money spent on buses and trains and more on roads. He’s not a fan of tolling, however.
“I would not have any tolls over $2,” he said. “I think it’s disgusting they’ve got a $5 trip charge to go over the (Highway) 520 bridge. That’s $10 a trip that really hurts the low-income folks.”
The toll varies based on day, time and whether the driver has a pre-paid pass. The maximum, at rush hours on weekdays, is $5.13 one way.
“I’d like to have a serious discussion on tolling,” Morrison said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Party affiliation: Democratic
Experience: Three years on Mukilteo City Council (2005-2007); appointed to Legislature for 2008; elected to Legislature in 2008 and 2010. Also is an adviser for Sen. Maria Cantwell’s campaign and former owner of a construction company.
Party affiliation: Republican
Experience: No political experience. Retired after 25 years with GTE, Verizon and Frontier as a technician, dispatcher, cashier, manager, locator, tester and inside technician.