As your State Representative, I would fight for policies that give everyone equal opportunity to lead fulfilling lives. I believe we have a moral obligation to take care of each other and that it makes economic sense to do so. If you believe as I do, that we're all in this together, please donate, volunteer, and vote for me.
Eastern Washington is ready for progressive leadership in Olympia. Now is the right time for progressives in Eastern Washington to rise to the challenge and demand that our elected officials make Washington a state that works for all of us. A few of the issues that are at the heart of my campaign are listed below.
Education and Tax Reform
We have an education funding crisis. Money that should be going towards educating our children, which is mandated by our State Constitution, is instead being diverted in the form of corporate tax breaks and subsidies to the tune of $13 billion dollars per year. The only way to stop this shortchanging of our children’s education is to reform our state’s flawed tax structure. The Legislature must scrutinize tax exemptions given primarily to large multinational corporations to determine which ones should be renewed, which should be renegotiated, and which should be allowed to expire based on what is best for the People and smaller businesses in Washington State. Ensuring that businesses are paying their fair share of taxes will go a long way toward fulfilling the Legislature's duty to fund our public schools.
In addition to funding education, we need to address how our children are being taught. Expensive, mandatory tests that take away from valuable instruction time while providing no value have to go. Education must become more student-focused so that it can meet the needs of each individual child, and the way to do that is to let teachers do what they do best. Teach.
Our students need opportunities to prepare for a variety of 21st Century careers, and that doesn’t mean that they all need to be prepped to attend a 4-year university. Access to vocational, technical, and skill-based training needs to be expanded in high schools and community colleges to ensure students are ready for good jobs in diverse fields.
Everyone should be able to earn a living wage. There’s an Initiative to raise the minimum wage to $13.50 an hour in Washington State by 2020. While that’s better than nothing, it’s not enough, fast enough. While $13.50 an hour would be a modest improvement in some parts of our state where the cost of living is lower, it wouldn't be nearly enough in other parts to be considered a living wage. If elected to the House, I would propose legislation that ties the minimum wage to the cost of living, and work to improve the lives of workers and their families as soon as possible, not 4 years from now.
Every worker should have access to paid time off when they are ill. No one should go to work sick because they can't afford to take time off. It's not good for the worker, their coworkers, or customers. Workers should also have predictable schedules so they can control their finances and control their own schedules outside of work.
Energy and the Environment
We need to use a combination of resources to meet the energy needs of the future, including nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar. We must lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. We should encourage recycling and conservation programs.
I support a single-payer, universal healthcare system on the national level. Until that happens, we should seek out ways here at home to fill the gaps in healthcare coverage in Washington State that still leave people struggling to pay for medical care or for high premiums and deductibles. A state-level, public option should be implemented.
We must address the severe shortage of mental health providers, facilities, and services in Eastern Washington to ensure affordable, effective, and timely care is available for individuals and families who need assistance, ideally before a state of crisis is reached. I will press for policies at the state level that will empower patients, caregivers, mental health professionals, educators, law enforcement, and others to work together to solve this problem.
Liberty and Justice for All
I believe in those concluding words in the Pledge of Allegiance. Liberty and justice for all. I believe we need to correct the injustices in our criminal justice system. We need meaningful reform of our drug laws, and we need to support prevention and treatment rather than incarceration. We need to continue to press Congress for meaningful immigration reform. LGBT rights and women's reproductive rights must be protected.
Ambitious? Yes. But reforming our tax structure, funding quality education, ensuring a living wage, and tackling other tough issues is the right thing to do, and now is the right time to do it.