Following the 2010 u.s. Census, Legislative District 11 expanded south and east, growing more conservative along the way.
But when voters open their ballots to choose a representative for Position 1 in the state house, they’ll find two Democrats: incumbent Zack Hudgins (D-Tuwkila) and newcomer Jim Flynn, of Renton.
The differences between the two are few but sharp.
Flynn supported Hudgins’ recent bid for Secretary of State, but Flynn is now running on a platform of across-the-board tax reform.
He said the sales and Business and Occupation (b&o) taxes are regressive, calls instead for a statewide income tax.
Hudgins wants another two years in his position to continue working on funding education while recognizing that Washington voters have consistently rejected new taxes such as a high-earners income tax and a sales tax on candy and soda pop.
Hudgins is a former Amazon and Microsoft manager who has been in the legislature since 2003. He is currently the chair of the General Government Appropriations & Oversight Committee.
Hudgins said his primary task is to manage a court-ordered requirement to add $1 billion in funding for education and to balance a $1 billion budget deficit as well.
In short, that means the best the legislature can do is maintain existing human services.
“The economy has hit the low-water mark. I think that means we can’t backfill all the cuts, we can’t expand government,” he said. “It means we need to hold the line.”
Hudgins said voters won’t support tax increases that simply fill the general fund.
They have to be for targeted programs.
Flynn is an electrician who has worked with the Port of Seattle, various public utilities and in aviation. He has worked for years with the 11th Legislative Democrats and the Legacy of Equality, Leadership and Organizing, but this is his first bid for office.
Flynn wants to take a more aggressive approach in the legislature, eliminating sales and B&O taxes and replacing them with a flat 3.8 percent state income tax for every income level.
He said the sales tax saps 17 percent of income from poor families, and B&O taxes take 1 percent from small businesses even if they don’t turn a profit.
Eliminating those in favor of an income tax would broaden the base, lower taxes for many people and increase state revenue, Flynn said.
The plan would also be a simpler way to track revenue, he said. “All you need is fifth-grade math, and every taxpayer will know where it’s going.”