As a parent and PTA leader, I envision a public education system that meets the needs of all of our diverse learners. The Legislature has progressed towards this goal by fully funding all-day kindergarten, decreasing class sizes for kindergarten through 3rd grade, and providing funding for materials and supplies for classrooms. The problem still remains that local school districts pay $3.5 billion out of local levy money for teachers and staff that is supposed to be funded under the basic education allocation to districts.
It is critical that we place funding the education system in compliance with the McCleary decision at the top of our agenda. Tax loopholes that do not serve the public interest need to be closed and that funding reallocated to the education system. State revenues need to be ample, sustainable, and capable of earning public support.
We must also give individual districts the flexibility to make funding decisions based on the needs of their population. This gives the district a way to close the opportunity gap by attracting teachers who are best equipped to meet the needs of the students, in classes that are sized in a way that the students get the help that they need in class and the extra support they might need outside of the classroom.
Transit & Transportation
Commuters tell me that they spend too much time getting to and from work instead of enjoying time with loved ones. Businesses spend more time than necessary moving goods along our highways. People feel as though they are having to pay for the toll lanes twice. This affects quality of life and economic development.
I fought for smart transit and transportation investments on the Kirkland City Council, and in the Legislature I will continue to be an advocate for common sense transportation solutions that help families and workers get where they need to be.
Congestion is a multi-faceted problem with no simple solution. A contributing factor is that there is not enough affordable housing in a reasonable proximity to where people work, creating the “drive till you qualify” phenomenon. More affordable housing and expanded opportunities to telecommute can help reduce the number of commuters on the roads. We also need to add more frequent and reliable bus options, plan for rail, strengthen the incident response system on our highways so that blockages can be cleared up more quickly, and allow hard shoulder running for buses during peak times.
Opportunity for All
Opportunity for all requires affordable, safe housing, access to healthcare and well-being, and fair, living wages. I am strongly in favor of raising the minimum wage to help local businesses compete in the local labor market when wages are higher in a nearby city, but we must structure the transition to avoid wage compression and avoid causing people on the edge to lose child care, health care, and housing subsidies that they may be depending on.
Health care is a right, not a privilege, and I believe whole-heartedly that we can make it accessible and affordable for our constituents. In the State House, I will support legislation to reduce the price of prescription drugs, broaden Medicare and Medicaid eligibility standards and covered services, and hold accountable businesses that refuse to provide for their workers.
Paid family and medical leave is another casualty of the most regressive tax system in the United States. In my career in health care as a per diem worker, I have had to wrestle with the choice of going to work while coming down with a cold or staying home to care for a family member who is ill but foregoing a day’s income. I firmly believe that everyone should be able to provide for their health without losing out on pay or risking being fired, and I will back any efforts to expand access to paid sick and safe leave, be it on the House floor or at the ballot box.
Accountability and Transparency
I believe one of the most important jobs of our legislators is is ensuring every tax dollar is spent effectively. To that end, eliminating tax breaks and loopholes that no longer serve the public interest is an important step in the right direction.
When creating or ending tax incentives, the information must be publicly accessible. There must be measurable public benefit and a sunset clause so that the Legislature must regularly reassess their costs and benefits, and claw-back provisions, so that the state can recoup its investment if the beneficiaries of tax incentives fail to live up to their end of the bargain.
We are fortunate to live in a beautiful region, and I remain committed to protecting and promoting our high quality of life. To me that means ensuring the highest air and water quality, preserving parks and open space, and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels to preserve our environment for future generations.
As Washington reduces greenhouse-gas emissions, invests in renewable energy, and transitions away from a fossil fuel economy, we have a tremendous opportunity to create and maintain a thriving alternative energy industry to drive our state’s economic growth and employ a stable workforce. As a State Representative, I will aim to serve as a leader on environmental issues by supporting programs that make our community more sustainable, including prioritizing statewide funding for waterway monitoring and infrastructure improvements for water supplies, providing incentives for new technologies, developing workforce re-training programs, and strengthening our state’s commitment to green energy sources.