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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 10, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 50
SGN Exclusive Interview: New state Rep. Laurie Jinkins
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SGN Exclusive Interview: New state Rep. Laurie Jinkins

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Newly elected state Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-27) was the featured guest at ERW's Toasting Equality Breakfast December 9.

Recently she spoke with SGN about her election as the legislature's first open Lesbian member, and her take on the problems facing a state in economic crisis.

Jinkins also told stories about Wulf, her 10-year-old son, campaign advisor, and author of the Top Ten Reasons to Support My Mom.

'He was quite a good advisor,' Jinkins says.

'I've been told by other elected officials that the biggest problem is you never again hear a sincere compliment. But he's very blunt. He'll say 'Mom, you did really good,' or 'Mom, you didn't think of this.'

Jinkins recounts a story about November 3, the day after the election.

For the first time in months, she slept in. By the time she got up, Wulf was dressed and ready to go to school.

'Later in the afternoon, he called me,' Jinkins recalls. 'He said 'We were planning a party for you, but we wanted to wait to see if you won.'

Jinkins drove to Wulf's school for her victory party.

'It was very interesting engaging with 4th graders,' she says.

'They were interested in all the things you'd expect people to be interested in. Education, environmental issues - which they conceptualized as recycling - or as saving trees. Even in the 4th grade.'

'Then we got into a conversation about consequences,' Jinkins continues. 'I said, 'Some people are in the business of cutting down trees, which you don't like, but that produces money that goes to education, which is something you like.'

Jinkins says they also had a 'lengthy conversation' on the candy and soda tax.

'The same kinds of conversations will happen in the legislature,' Jinkins adds. 'It's really tough. There's a growing realization of how bad the budget really is.'

Asked what she would do to cope with the state's budget crisis - now made worse by the defeat of a state income tax and the victory of Tim Eyman's latest anti-tax scheme - Jinkins is blunt.

'I'm a fan of setting really clear priorities,' she says.

'The problem is, for the things we really have to fund - education, health - we've already spent a huge portion of the state's revenue.'

'We'll run out of money long before we run out of priorities,' she warns.

Jinkins also warns against what she calls 'cherry picking' - cobbling together funding schemes for one or two projects - instead of using 'objective tools' to craft a sustainable budget.

'If we set up an analytical structure to evaluate budget items, that allows us to have a conversation with voters on revenue generation,' she says. 'That's a good conversation to have with voters.'

Jinkins believes her background as deputy director of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department will help her evaluate state funding priorities.

'To tell the truth, nothing is off the table,' she says. 'I have a public health background. In public health, we don't do anything unless there's very strong evidence that it works.'

While Jinkins believes there are 'always opportunities for marriage,' she says the legislature 'has to deal with the budget before filing hundreds of policy bills.'

'The last session got way too far before there was a serious discussion of the budget,' she says.

Jinkins tells SGN she is learning about her new legislative colleagues and their districts.

'There are 56 members of the [Democratic] caucus - 57 if Dawn Morrell (D-25) wins her seat - and they're all fairly individualistic,' she says.

Morrell trails anti-Gay Republican Hans Zeiger by 47 votes and is in the midst of a recount.

'I've worked on a lot of issues,' Jinkins says. 'My activism has really been issues-based, much more so than party-based. I think I'll be able to work across the aisle on problems where we have a shared interest.'

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