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Wash. Senior Senator and Former State GOP Chair Participate In Final Debate In Redmond

Kaylee Osowski
Democratic U.S. Senator Patty Murray (left) debates her Republican challenger Chris Vance (right) on Sunday at Microsoft’s Redmond campus.";

Democratic U.S. Senator Patty Murray met Republican challenger Chris Vance for a debate Sunday at Microsoft’s Redmond campus.

The candidates discussed the power struggle between the federal government and states when it comes to education. Murray says the federal government provides opportunity for all.

“Actually, the federal education law is essentially a civil rights law,” Murray said. “That’s why it was first passed because in too many states, in too many places, students of color, students of lower income were not getting the same access.”

Murray says Congress has made improvements to the No Child Left Behind Act, including allowing states to decide how to respond if students aren’t meeting goals.

Vance, who’s held public office and chaired the state Republican party, says when it comes to education, keep the decision-making power local.

“I think the federal government should help provide funding, but then get the heck out of the way,” Vance said. “Our schools should be governed locally.”

Vance admits new federal rules have improved, but says they still go too far. He says Congress should not be looking over state lawmakers’ shoulders. This is the final Senate debate leading up to the election.

Different Approaches to Federal Spending

Moderators also asked candidates about their priorities for the federal budget. If Vance could allocate more money to any area, he says it would be to improve the environment.

“We need to roughly triple the amount of money we’re spending on clean energy research in my view,” Vance said. “I think the federal government needs to do much more to develop technology to address the issue of climate change.”

To bring down America’s debt, Vance says there needs to be entitlement reforms for Social Security and Medicare. Murray wants to make the wealthy pay more to boost the middle class.

“And I would pay for that by closing corporate loopholes that benefit the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations,” Murray said.

Murray says the trickle-down theory doesn’t work. Instead she wants to grow the middle class by investing in education, infrastructure and jobs that pay more.

Members of the media moderated the debate sponsored by the Washington State Debate Coalition, and took questions send in from the public.