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Large: Washington needs business development

The answer to Washington’s budget crisis is economic expansion that will create more tax revenues, Don Large says.

But for that to happen, he says, the state needs to become more competitive, which he thinks will require less regulation of business, particularly from the Department of Ecology.

“Instead of protecting the environment, Ecology is becoming an overbearing police agency that is hampering business and growth,” Large said.

The Republican is running for the Position 1 spot in the 23rd legislative district, which encompasses Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap County, to “change the mindset” in Olympia, he said.

“We need a business perspective,” he said. “It’s time we do something different.”

It will be an uphill battle. In the September “beauty contest” primary, where neither man faced an opponent, incumbent Democrat Phil Rockefeller outpolled Large, 61 percent to 39 percent.

Rockefeller is also handily ahead in the money race. Reports filed with the state indicate that Rockefeller has raised some $67,000, and has $19,000 cash on hand, while Large has raised some $42,000, and had less than $1,000 on hand as of the filing date.

Saying he believes there are “too many people standing around the water cooler” in state offices, Large said government operations should be streamlined and consolidated to reduce costs.

“I own an auto body shop, which is one of the most heavily regulated businesses around,” he said. “The last time I had an inspection, the Department of Ecology sent over three people, and the only thing they said was that there was a can without a lid on it.

“It’s incorrect to say that there is not waste in government.”

One area where Large agrees that more revenue is needed is transportation. He supports Referendum 51, the transportation-improvement package, but said the legislature should have passed an improvement package itself, without sending the question out for a vote.

He also says that whether or not R-51 passes, the state should consider regional gas-tax increases to pay for big-ticket transportation improvements.

“We have one of the lower gas prices on the West Coast, and some sort of gas-tax increase is a given,” Large said. “We should determine how much each project is going to cost, then impose a regional gas tax necessary to pay for it. That way, people can see their tax dollars going to something they will benefit from.”

Large said money can also be saved by reducing the amount of project planning, particularly environmental planning.

“If you’ve already determined to build a project, do you really need to go into so much detail on an impact statement?” he asked.

In the related area of growth management, Large says some level of advanced planning is useful, but it shouldn’t be “too intrusive.” And he questions the concept of directing growth into certain urbanized areas to preserve outlying open space.

“I’m not for condensing too many people into too small an area,” he said. “That can lead to more crime and other problems.”

He opposes the ergonomics rules that the Locke administration is considering, saying many businesses are unable to comply.

And he calls for reform of the state’s unemployment-compensation system and its system of providing medical care and compensation to victims of on-the-job injuries, saying both programs are rife with fraud and abuse.

Similarly, he calls for reform in the legal system. “We need to stop the frivolous lawsuits,” he said. “Maybe the loser should have to pay the other side’s expenses.”

On education, Large says more money needs to find its way into the classroom, with less going for administration. One way to reduce overhead, he believes, is to consolidate school districts.

“We have five separate school districts in the county,” he said. “Why do we need so many? Some of them can be consolidated.”

The first-time office-seeker and father of seven, who has been involved in a myriad of youth-oriented community activities, said Kitsap County’s greatest need is “to bring in good-paying new jobs.”

But while Large favors economic development for the state and for Kitsap County as a whole, he does not think that formula is necessarily appropriate for Bainbridge.

“We need to keep more stuff away from Bainbridge Island to keep it pristine,” he said. “But the rest of the county needs help, and it needs Bainbridge Island’s help.”

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