Karen Keiser in the 33rd
Karen Keiser
Legislative District 33
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 evidenced based efforts to close the achievement gap for our kids in public schools.  In my district, the clear correlation between economic status and education achievement gives us a road map.  Economic equity and opportunity is an overlooked element of educational equity.  Cultural competence of educators and universal early education for 3 and 4 year olds are other key factors to closing the achievement gap that I would support.

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 investments in infrastructure, and am an advocate for adequate revenue for our schools, including construction funding of new classrooms.  I am looking at different approaches to our state property tax rate, as well as closure of unnecessary tax exemptions, to improve our revenue stream so that we can fully fund basic education among other priorities.

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?

Our safety net programs are already stretched to the breaking point.  It is essential to protect TANF, Hen and ABD.  Period.

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?

Institutional racism needs to be revealed and opposed.  I think we have stopped talking about and exposing the threats to the human rights, civil rights and equal rights of people and communities in our state.

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 strongly supported Proposition 1, the SeaTac measure to provide not only an immediate $15 an hour minimum wage for airport related employers , but also paid sick and safe leave for workers in airport related businesses.

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 think decent wages are fundamental to achieve an end to predatory lending and unfair debt schemes.  When people earn enough to avoid pawn shops, cash advance and check cashing and payday lending purveyors, we can avoid the abuses of consumers that occur.

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.

This is an area of policy that I have little direct knowledge or expertise in, but I have heard of abuses in the legal financial obligation (LFO) system that is very troubling.  I would be open to legislation to address and stop such abuse.

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 have been a leader in our state to achieve a successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act in our state, with aggressive outreach and well trained navigators to help communities who have long be left behind in the health care system to fully access affordable quality health care.  I am proud of our state for stepping forward and achieving a successful start for health reform to achieve health care for all.