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?
More emphasis on early learning will help; fully funding K12 education with smaller class sizes will also help struggling students get the attention they need. We must not forget the importance of the social safety net in allowing kids to effectively access the education system.
Washingtonians need a strong infrastructure and the resources, critical investments, and community services to support a vibrant and inclusive community and economy. What changes will you propose to our state’s revenue structure to ensure that we can adequately invest in our communities?
We need to move to a less regressive revenue structure, close unproductive tax exemptions and loopholes which are being abused, and resume making long term infrastructure investments.
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 continue to support funding for the safety net – it is a critical part of respecting our seniors and making sure all kids have the opportunity to pursue an education.
4. RACIAL JUSTICE
Institutional racism is a daily burden that our communities face when accessing housing, credit, the ballot box, and interfacing with the criminal justice system. This oppression is often codified in the rules, allowances and governance of these institutions as “business as usual” and creates significant consequences for people of color. What will you do to address the consequences of institutional racism that create barriers for our members’ ability to prosper?
Government should always be open to changing its practices in the interest of fairness and equal access.
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?
Encourage retention and expansion of family wage jobs, and maintain the safety net and Affordable Care Act implementation to help meet basic needs like food, housing, and healthcare.
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?
In 2011, I eliminated the practice of direct bail forfeiture to debt collectors, and in 2013, I brought debt buyers into regulation under our debt collection laws. I support eliminating payday loans.
7. CRIMINAL JUSTICE
People leaving the criminal justice system face many roadblocks to reentering their community. This includes housing and employment discrimination and mounting debt from legal financial obligations. What changes would you make to the criminal justice system? Please include any ideas you have to reduce these roadblocks to reentry.
I would put more emphasis on mental health and addiction treatment both within the criminal justice system and, where appropriate, as an alternative to it. We should also cut the abusive fees for phone calls to allow inmates to stay in better contact with their families.
8. HEALTH CARE
Health and well-being is critical for all Washingtonians to thrive. Everyone should have high quality, essential health care services including reproductive health and preventative medicine. What will you do to ensure that all Washingtonians have access to affordable, high quality, and culturally appropriate health care?
I will continue to support implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as well as the recent state Medicaid expansion.