Dixie Kolditz says she wants to use her small business experience to cut through bureaucracy and increase job opportunities.
The Republican from Cathlamet owns two companies, one that provides residential care to people with disabilities and another that is an import/export wholesale home décor company. Kolditz first got involved in the political process in 2010 by accepting an invitation from Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler to testify in front of Congress about her life and business experiences.
Kolditz was born and raised in a segregated black township in Johannesburg, South Africa, during apartheid. In 1995, she received a scholarship to attend Brigham Young University in Utah, where she met and married her husband. During a seven-year process, she became a citizen of the United States.
Kolditz says she believes in “limiting government control and limited regulations” while “creating equal opportunities for employers and employees when it comes to legal compensation.”
“I believe in giving the individual control of their lives and personal responsibility,” she says. “I believe in limiting government intervention so that the individuals and communities can help themselves.”
With education funding critical in the next legislative session under court mandates, how do you propose the state deal with schools in the long run and what measures can be taken to comply with the court rulings that the state must “amply provide for the education of all Washington children as the first and highest priority before any other state programs or operations?”
Because the state Legislature and the majority party leadership have consistently refused to take on the larger problems of growing budgets and bureaucratic waste spending, operating budgets, including education funding and transportation, have been consistently cut, while the state continues to take on capital projects with no regard to controlling costs. Education funding must increase as a percentage of the state budget in order to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. The only way to achieve this is make drastic cuts to budgetary programs that are not essential, core function of state government. Allowing a private option, for example, in Worker’s Compensation Insurance could free up millions of dollars from the Labor & Industries budget, not to mention breaking up the state’s monopoly on Worker’s Compensation.
How will you vote on the following measures on the general election ballot?
• Initiative 1185, which reinforces existing requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majority or voter approval YES
• Initiative 502 that would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution and possession NO
• Initiative 1240 that would authorize up to 40 publicly funded charter schools YES
• Referendum 74 that would allow same-sex couples to marry NO
Unemployment continues to be higher in Southwest Washington than in other parts of Western Washington. Does the state have a role in addressing the problem and what can or should be done legislatively to help spur job growth in your districts?
The state has a very important role in addressing the problem as much of what has slowed our recovery has to do with obstructive and burdensome regulations the state imposes on our largest sector of job creators: our small businesses. As mentioned above, Workers Compensation reform, Business and Occupation tax reform and burdensome regulations need to be addressed. Small business owners lose countless hours of productivity complying with overbearing state regulations, when they need to be concentrating on growing their companies, which will in turn grow the economy and create jobs.
Concerns from environmental groups over the Marbled Murrelet have led to the State Board of Natural Resources to put on pause timber sales in Pacific and Wahkiakum counties on “potential habitat” that the bird has not yet occupied, putting a blow to county budgets that had anticipated those sales. Several utilities also pulled the plug on the Radar Ridge project over concerns the site was too close to Marbled Murrelet nesting habitat. What thoughts do you have to engage the state Department of Natural Resources as a legislator to tackle the Marbled Murrelet issue and do you think the murrelet issue could be as big a deal to the coast as the Spotted Owl was the rest of the Olympic Peninsula?
Yes, the Marbled Murrelet is an issue because it is affecting counties in our district who depend on the revenue from the timber that they now cannot access. Our working forests are one of our greatest natural resources. Just a couple of decades ago, the working forests of Washington, not the protected areas, were producing 9 billion board feet of lumber annually. Lumber and associated timber and fibre industries benefited from the forest activities and we maintained much healthier forests than we have now. Because of the actions of the state, our forest production is down 90 percent again in the working public forest lands, not the protected areas. Damage to the forests from horrific forest fires and aggressive insect species are much worse because of the densely replanted forests. We know how to manage our forests and maintain a healthy balance between protecting the plant and animal species and harvesting the trees for economic use. We need to find a balance between the protected species and the people in our communities.
Grays Harbor County currently is involved in a lawsuit brought by its Superior Court Judges over what they believe is inadequate funding for judicial operations. Does the state have an obligation to better fund its courts and criminal justice system and what suggestions do you have for possibly solving this dilemma?
The state does have a role, in our current tax system, as the primary revenue source for county departments, like criminal justice through property and sales taxes. Grays Harbor is a very depressed area of Washington State and both of these sources of revenue are down significantly. Most counties in Washington are facing similar funding shortages. In Cowlitz County, for example, Clerk Beverly Little is short two FTE clerks, yet the case load from Superior Court is expanding. Public safety cannot be a second or third tier priority. This is not a new problem. In 1996, the U.S. Department of Justice studied funding of courts. They found Washington State to be last in the nation in state support of our court systems. Washington State contributed 14 percent of total court operating expenses, compared to 45 percent nationally. The state needs to step up their support of local courts. In the short term, counties need to evaluate the way funds are spent and prioritize to support public safety as the top concern. Our small businesses exist despite the state agencies that create such difficult circumstances. If the state legislature can eliminate the bulk of these over-reaching regulations, thereby shrinking the state budget dedicated to these agencies, millions of dollars will be made available to education and public safety. The State of Washington does not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.