Marko Liias in the 21st
Marko Liias
Legislative District 21
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 am where I am because I received a great education. I am committed to ensuring that today’s kids have the same opportunities I had. In order to improve on student outcomes we need to fully fund education so that every student has access to a quality education.

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?

The first step needs to be ensuring that government is being run efficiently. We have to do better job of containing costs and implementing LEAN management techniques. We need to close outdated tax loopholes, and look at the new revenue options to meet our constitutional obligation to our kids.

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 believe that we have a duty to protect the most vulnerable. During the great recession we were forced to make many tragic cuts to social services and it is important to make sure that individuals in need of those types of services are not forgotten in the recovery.

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?

There is no doubt that institutional racism continues to cause daily hardships for communities of color. Education is the an incredible equalizing force that can empower all communities and that’s why it is so important to fully fund education and close the opportunity gap so that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed.

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 raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour, because I believe that all work deserves dignity, and all working people should have the ability to support themselves and their families. We need a minimum wage that reflects demographic changes and gives all families the opportunity to support themselves.

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 the state has placed reasonable restrictions upon long and short-term credit lenders in this state. However, I agree that we need to do more and I do recognize the value of some of these services in that they can grant some financial flexibility that individuals may not have otherwise had. 

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.

Unfortunately, our criminal justice system has not placed enough of an emphasis on rehabilitating criminals to re-adjust for life after their sentence. We need to work to help them secure access to educational opportunities, quality housing and stable employment so they can provide for themselves. 

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 was a vocal supporter of Medicaid expansion. It will ensure that all Washingtonians have access to quality healthcare. The next step needs to be educating the public on their healthcare options and working to make sure that federal regulations do not conflict with our values as a state.