On retirement security, both candidates pledge to fully fund state employee pension programs. But their statements suggest different approaches to pension reform. Inslee said he doesn't believe reducing middle-class benefits is the way to expand growth. McKenna has said he would consider moving new state employees from defined-benefit to defined-contribution retirement plans.
For private-sector workers, both men said they would consider proposals for the state to help small businesses set up retirement accounts for their employees. "Nudging workers toward new workplace savings accounts makes sense to me," McKenna said. "I'm open to public-private partnerships and I'm looking for other ideas as well," Inslee said.
For public-sector workers, McKenna wants to switch state employees to high-deductible health savings account plans, while Inslee favors standard comprehensive benefits.
Both candidates expressed strong support for programs that benefit seniors, including state agencies that protect older people from fraud, abuse and neglect. McDonald said both candidates have agreed to an AARP Washington request to host a summit meeting on aging to address the challenges the state will face as the 65-plus population swells over the next 20 years from 13 percent to 21 percent.
"We're on the cusp of a huge demographic shift," McDonald said. "The next governor needs to play a leading role in preparing society for the changed population."
To see the AARP Washington voters' guide, visit the AARP Washington website. To receive a printed copy by mail, call 1-877-926-8300 toll-free.
Harris Meyer is a freelance writer and editor based in Yakima, Wash.
Also of interest: Keep up-to-date with AARP election blog.