This candidate only answered some of our questions to stay within our word limit. His answers are below:
A strong education system builds a strong state. When people have access to a high-quality education starting with K-12, people have a stronger chance of obtaining economic stability. In Washington, not all schools are meeting the challenge to build a strong foundation for success. Students of color and low-income students are disproportionately affected by the achievement or opportunity gap in Washington state. How will you reduce or eliminate the achievement gap and ensure that all people have access to a high quality education?
I am disturbed by the fact that zip code is the greatest single indicator of the quality of public education that a child will receive. I am also saddened that many families who would like to send their children to private schools are unable to afford the tuition.
There are currently thirteen states that offer tuition tax credit programs to incentivize donations to private, nonprofit, scholarship-granting organizations to provide financial support to low-income students who attend private schools. However, since Washington does not have a state income tax, we do not have the option of implementing a tax credit program.
The solution for Washington is a reimbursement program. If elected, I will immediately introduce two pieces of legislation: one to authorize a reimbursement for the first $1,000 that each individual donates to a private school, and another to do the same for donations to non-profit organizations that provide scholarships to private schools. Once passed, these laws will inspire people to financially support private schools, result in a net gain for the State, and dramatically increase the amount of scholarship money available.
3. SAFETY NET
A strong safety net is the foundation of a strong state and workforce. Programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and similar programs such as Housing Essential Needs and Aged Blind Disabled (HEN and ABD), are keeping many of our families, children, and disabled adults alive. What will you do to protect funding for basic need services that provide a safety net for Washington families?
I will fight to increase funding to these programs.
Wages have stagnated while cost of living has increased, making it difficult for low income families to meet their basic needs. What would you do to help low income families support themselves?
What we need in the State of Washington is a true living wage, one that will put more money in workers’ pockets while not threatening their jobs. I do not know what that number is, but as a legislator I will work hard to find out.
6. DEBT AND LENDING
Everyone, regardless of their income, should have fair and reasonable consumer protections when they borrow money. Fringe financial industries like debt settlement companies and predatory lenders push our communities into a cycle of debt. How would you protect Washingtonians’ ability to avoid this cycle of debt?
The major issue here is that many families live off of the payday advances that they get from these predatory lenders. These families have to use their entire paychecks to pay off the loans, which forces them to turn around and take out another loan. The reality is that their annual incomes are significantly reduced by the exorbitant fees and interest rates that they pay for their money. All they need is to get ahead by one paycheck, and then the cycle of debt would be broken.
If elected, I would work to find a solution for this problem. There needs to be a way for families who are in the cycle of debt to get a one-time, interest-free loan that they could pay off over a long period of time. That would allow them to meet all of their living expenses and then keep their next paycheck, which would get them back on track.