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?
The ability to choose where and how children are educated is available only to the wealthiest of our population living in high achieving districts or can afford private schools. Charter schools, vouchers and competitive and flexible education systems will prove opportunity to those not as privileged to have a choice.
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?
I would support the repeal of the sales tax and the introduction of an income tax that will reduce the tax burden on our low income citizens. Before raising additional revenue, I would review the state’s expense structure and ensure that tax dollars are focused in areas of greatest need.
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?
My website notes that programs line [sic] TANF are ones that should be focused on. We need to fund programs that enable those able to become self-sufficient to do so, and promote education and training programs to facilitate that. A strong safety net is one of my 4 areas of focus.
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?
As a white male, I am not subject to this and cannot claim to even begin to understand the challenges a person of color experienced. I would commit to list and work with community leaders to understand where such discrimination exists and explore options to eliminate it.
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?
According to the Institute for Justice, some 50%+ of low income professions, such as hair stylist, requite extensive licensing and training- limiting the access to these professions for low income families to open and build their own businesses. I would review and reduce the licensing requirements to open more opportunity.
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?
Financial education id critical and should be taught in our high schools. We should enforce the existing disclosure laws effectively, but they key is education. The only way to break the cycle is to address the cause- lack of knowledge and lack of opportunity through education.
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.
Recidivism is high precisely because of a structural challenge to reentry-forcing those leaving the system to make poor choices again to survive. Part of any incarceration needs to be mental health and career and life counseling to provide a fair chance to success after release. Focus on causes.
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?
Focus should be on preventative medicine. I disagree with the ACA, and believe reform of Medicare and opening health insurance to interstate competition would’ve addressed the bulk of the underinsured. Since the ACA is mandated, we need to make ACA access and costs as streamlines and cost effective as possible.