“It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” – Article IX, Section 1, Washington State Constitution
Those are powerful words written into our constitution. We have no job greater than to provide an education for all children. As a public school graduate and education policy analyst, I am committed to ensuring that all children have an opportunity to learn and reach their potential. It is an investment in our local communities, our state and our nation. This means ensuring that all Washington students have access to a quality education starting from pre-school age all the way to higher education.
When it comes to K-12 education, If we are committed to building an economy that competes on the global scale, students have to be prepared to enter a 21st century workforce with the right skills. We must set high standards for graduation if we expect to compete. Our region thrives on innovation and technology. It is imperative that students are competent in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). To create the global clean energy economy we are hoping for, we must prepare our students.
Jobs & Economy
Building a strong economy is vital to helping Washingtonians help themselves. In these incredibly tough economic times, getting a job and keeping it can be a challenge. We all know of someone who has been recently laid off and is struggling to get back on their feet, or someone who just graduated from college, yet is finding it difficult to land a job that pays a living wage. That’s why it is essential that Washington continues to attract new business, and does so in a fair and equitable way. Finding new avenues to create green jobs is one way to achieve this goal.
Also essential to ensuring a strong economic future for our state is making sure that everyone has the opportunity to access education that will help them get good quality jobs. When it comes to this goal, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Education needs vary by interests, background, age, experience, and a wide variety of other factors. Community colleges, technical and trade schools, as well as our more traditional higher education facilities must be available to a wide range of students if we want them prepared for our local workforce.
The severity of the economic downturn in our state is directly correlated to our unfair tax structure. With sales tax and B&O as the primary revenue generators for our state, the services we provide are overly impacted by economic upheavals—with lower income families and small businesses not only paying more than their share, but bearing the brunt of service cuts. This is wrong and unjust. Despite the difficulties involved in finding and passing revenue-generating legislation, it is vital that we make the case for needed revenue. While there are a number of tax incentives that boost our economy, there are some that don’t benefit our communities or job creation; those should be closed.
I am willing to travel to any corner of Washington to make the case for revenue. Given accurate and complete information, I believe the people of Washington would support reasonable revenue options to help get our state of its current budget crisis and start on the road to economic recovery.
We live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The natural amenities we have here in the Puget Sound and throughout Washington are second to none. I want to make it my job to be a responsible steward of our environment.
A healthy environment is vital to human health and happiness. I value not only the aesthetic aspects of our natural surroundings, but also the essential benefits to our wellbeing that depend on being surrounded by a clean and hearty environment. If elected to the state legislature, I pledge to oppose rollbacks to environmental protections, and cuts to programs designed to improve the health of the environment. I will support legislation designed to prevent further damage to our environment, promote natural habitats, and encourage use of alternative, cleaner energy.
One of the most critical problems plaguing our local environment is toxic storm water runoff. Our streams, rivers and lakes are being polluted by motor oil on the road, pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals that are washed into our drains from the rain. The companies and individuals who are responsible for causing this pollution should be responsible for cleaning it up. I support a small fee on hazardous chemicals that pollute our waterways. The income generated would pay for restoration projects that mitigate the impacts of storm water runoff. I think that is a fair approach. We should also encourage smarter development in cities and counties that will prevent the damage of runoff. Retrofitting buildings and roofs, creating rain gardens, swales and using permeable concrete are all ideas to ease the impact. I want to go to Olympia to implement some of these great ideas.
Finding sources of clean energy is a challenge becoming more and more pressing each day, both on a national scale and right here in Washington. Voters spoke loud in clear back in 2006 when they passed I-937, the Initiative requiring Washington utility companies to start moving to renewable sources of energy. It is important that we stand by that requirement and continue to find other creative energy solutions. I applaud the work of the 2011 legislators who ensured that Washington moves towards a coal-free future by passing a bill that ends the coal burning operations of TransAlta. In the same vein, I oppose the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point. Dirty sources of energy, such as coal, have no place here in the Northwest. On an individual level, I support efforts to encourage citizens to be more mindful of their environmental footprint. It is vital that we create and maintain programs that promote waste reduction, energy conservation, and the use alternative transportation.
A smart, integrated transportation infrastructure is the foundation of a vibrant economy—attracting businesses and people to our dynamic, growing region. Efficient transportation choices also allow regional residential and employment centers to be connected and increase workforce mobility. Transportation projects create family wage jobs and boost the economy. A multi-modal system paves the way for transit oriented development so that communities are building around the things people do most; live, work, shop, learn and play. Transportation policy is directly linked to healthy communities.
In these tough economic times, local transit authorities are having a difficult time maintaining services. At the state level, we must give local authorities more flexibility to generate revenue. I want to make sure cities and counties have all the tools they need to offer robust transportation options to their citizens. In the last three years, 13 of the 18 local transit ballot measures have passed in our state because people want to support transit.
Maintenance of our current roadways is proven to be a good investment. The return on investment is 6:1 for every dollar spent on road maintenance, based on a report by the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials. We must continue to invest in smart policies that will pay off in the future.
Access to quality and affordable health care should not be treated as a privilege – it is a basic right that should be afforded to every Washingtonian. Health care safety net programs that help keep our state’s most vulnerable citizens healthy have been vastly cut in the past few years. Publicly-funded programs, such as Apple Health for Kids; Basic Health Plan; Disability Lifeline; the Breast, Cervical, and Colon Health Program; and family planning services are essential to thousands of Washingtonians who depend on them. Working families, the disabled, the elderly, and many others use these programs every day. In order to ensure that these services remain available, we must stop balancing the budget by cutting these and other important programs. Other solutions, such as raising revenue, must be implemented before any more cuts to our health care safety net are made. These programs are struggling to meet demand as it is, they cannot afford any additional cuts. I believe that all Washington citizens should have the opportunity to pursue health and wellness for themselves and their families.
When it comes to reproductive health, as a 100% pro-choice legislator, I will firmly support women’s right to sovereignty over her body and her health care. The recent attacks against a woman’s right to chose abortion, or to even have reasonable access to birth control, are ridiculous and amount to an ideological battle with women in the middle. Though we are lucky to live in a pro-choice state, there are still improvements to be made. The failure of last session’s Reproductive Parity Act, which would have safeguarded women’s current access to abortion care through the impending changes to federal health care law, is proof that we still need pro-choice legislators to take a stand for women’s health. I am prepared to do just that.
Equality for All
Like you, I value the basic principles of equality and human rights. This means that everyone deserves equal treatment under the law – whether they be gay or straight. I have always been, and always will, be a supporter of marriage equality and other civil rights protections for the LGBT community. Everyone deserves the right to marry the person they love, and the right to have access to all the benefits that come with that union. I was overjoyed that the legislature passed marriage equality into law last session, and I have great hope that the people of Washington will affirm the right for all citizens to marry. Whatever the outcome, I am aware of the reality that the fight for marriage equality is far from over. As a state legislator, I will work to ensure that marriage equality becomes and remains a reality in our state.
Social Safety Net
Low-income families, children, disabled persons, the elderly, and underrepresented communities of color are hit the hardest by an economic downturn. As compassionate and progressive advocates, we absolutely must protect the most vulnerable people in our society. Supporting our safety net programs such as Disability Lifeline, Basic Health, Working Connections Child Care, Basic Food, and other programs is critical at a time when people need those services the most. The cash assistance offered in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program has been drastically cut. There is no way we can let this continue. I will stand up for the services that mean a difference between life and death for some people.
The basic needs of people are housing, utilities, groceries and clothing. These are not luxuries – they are essential. For the portion of our population that is right on the edge of survival, it is inhumane to leave them helpless. As the state budget has gone into crisis, we have responded by balancing the budget in large part on the backs of the families who depend on these programs. This means that as Washingtonians struggle with to make ends meet because of the state of the economy, the safety net that is meant to support them in times of need is simultaneously disappearing. I will work tirelessly to come up with solutions that do not allow these types of cuts.