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Michael Baumgartner represents the 6th District in Spokane. He is the Vice-Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committe, and also serves on the Senate Higher Education and Trade and Economic Development Committees.
In his first year in office, Michael reached across the aisle to help write a bi-partisan budget and sponsored major legislation that was signed into law concerning regulatory reform to reduce costs for small business and a major reform to consolidate government agencies and allow for more contracting-out of non-essential government information technology services. Governor Christine Gregoire called Michael`s reform bill the “most significant transformation of state government in 20 years.”
In just his second year in the Senate, Michael joined with a bipartisan group of Senators to fight for a series of key reforms. Senate Bill 6378, co-sponsored by Baumgartner, eliminates the early-retirement option for new hires, but not current employees, saving $2 billion over 25 years. It also redirects that $2 billion in savings toward paying off the unfunded liability in the state’s Plan 1 pension system.
Michael also dedicated a great deal of his second year to fighting for higher education. Over the last 10 years our state has spent a lot of money, yet even during times of budget growth higher education has been deprioritized. Increasing tuition has shifted the cost to students and put many deeply into debt they can’t afford. To address this concern, Michael introduced Senate Joint Resolution 8225, a measure that would have protected higher education in the State Constitution and provided it a dedicated revenue stream from existing taxes.
Unfortunately, the majority party missed an opportunity to act on this key reform and denied the measure the opportunity to even have a public hearing. Michael, however, is committed to continuing the fight for quality, affordable education here in Washington, and will be working agressively on the issue again in the 2013 Legislative Session.
Michael is a former diplomat and business consultant, having served as an Economic Affairs Officer with the US State Department in Iraq. When not in Olympia, he now works part-time as an economics advisor to the US military.
Michael was born in Pullman and attended high school in Spokane before attending Washington State University (WSU), where he graduated in 1999, with a degree in Economics. While at WSU he was named a Foley Scholar and a Stephenson Scholar, the top award of the Honor’s College.
Michael also holds a Masters in Public Administration in International Development from Harvard University and taught there as a Teaching Fellow in Economics.
While in college he also worked as a researcher on environmental science teams with the US Forest Service and spent a year as a volunteer teaching in Mozambique, Africa.
Michael and his wife Eleanor have two sons – Conrad and Roman.