Jeanne Kohl-Wells in the 36th
Jeanne Kohl-Welles
Legislative District 36
Prefers Democratic Party

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 challenge is to eliminate the opportunity gap in order to ensure all students are able to access high-quality education, regardless of color, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and other demographics. Equitable funding, high standards and excellent teachers and principals are essential, which require additional revenue and full compliance with McCleary.

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 reform our regressive tax structure, reducing the sales tax, eliminating the B & O tax, and creating an income tax with constitutional protections. We need to close ineffective tax preferences that have been recommended for repeal by JLARC and the Citizens’ Commission on Tax Preferences

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?

It is essential that we adequately fund these social safety net programs as well as affordable housing, health care, and job training and education. I will withhold my vote on the operating and capital budgets if a reasonable funding level is not provided for these programs.

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?

We need to examine our RCWs and WACs regarding covert as well as overt patterns of discrimination related to housing, credit, voting requirements, employment, educational access, financial aid, etc., and make changes where needed. Racial disparities in our law enforcement and criminal justice system need to be changed through legislation.

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?

I will advocate for and support increasing the state minimum wage, workforce development and job training and apprenticeship programs, working families child care, universal preschool, affordable higher education, affordable housing, and health care coverage. Wage progression should have a higher priority.

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?

Payday lending protections need to be enhanced, not weakened. Credit, foreclosure and bankruptcies protections also need to be strengthened. Student debt interest rates need to be refinanced.

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.

Just as we were able to provide voting registration rights to felons without requiring payment of all LFOs, we need to provide protections against housing and employment discrimination for former felons. Successful reentry can be facilitated by enhancing job training and restoring higher education programming beyond the GED during incarceration.

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 advocate for and support funding of the above, including mental health and dental health care services, and adequate interpreter services. I will withhold my vote on the budget if such funding is not included.