John Stafford
John Stafford
Legislative District 37
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?

I support full funding of the State Supreme Court’s McCleary decision that calls for a substantial increase in K12 education funding.  I support targeting much of this funding toward early learning programs, which will disproportionately help lower-income communities and thus help address the achievement gap.

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 support a major repeal of the state’s corporate tax breaks which unjustly transfer the tax burden from certain corporations to other companies and/or citizens.  Second, I support the introduction of a state income tax on higher income earners.  Both of these changes will make the tax code less regressive.

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 support a strong safety net (including TANF, HEN and ABD).  To support these programs, it is imperative to raise additional tax revenue.  As noted above, I support a repeal of corporate tax breaks and the introduction of a state income tax to achieve this.

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?

To address racial justice, it is important to address income inequalities (via, for example, the minimum wage increase, which I support) and the educational achievement gap.  In addition, certain affirmative action programs (that incorporate applicants’ circumstances) are important when making admissions decisions.

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 support investment in transportation infrastructure to provide economic stimulus and create jobs.  I support Seattle’s $15/hour minimum wage, and the extension of the minimum wage statewide.  I supported Proposition 1 to increase transit investment, to better link citizens to their places of employment.

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?

I support a full range of consumer protections to guard against predatory lending practices.  For example, I believe that payday lenders should have strictly enforced interest rate ceilings.  I do not support “the free market’s” ability to address these challenges on its own; regulation is mandatory.

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 support the opportunity for meaningful work and educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals while they are in prison.  Upon release, I support job training opportunities.  I also support the expansion of public housing opportunities (e.g., transitional housing) to facilitate societal re-entry into society.

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 support the Affordable Care Act, and efforts to increase community outreach to increase enrollment.  I also support the eventual transition to a Single Payer Health Care System, even at the state level.  Finally, I support expanded access to the state’s Basic Health Plan.