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 would push to achieve the K-12 funding levels demanded by the Supreme Court without cutting critical parts of our state budget. I would also support shifting resources within our education budget towards under-served areas so that we can achieve reduced class sizes and improved education outcomes in those communities.
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 believe that we need to update our state’s revenue structure without increasing the tax burden on low income families. A capital gains tax on our highest earners would ensure we can gain the revenue we need while at the same time fighting against inequality in our state.
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?
I would stand up to extremists in the legislature who are attempting to gut our safety net, and I would fight to expand social programs at the state level. We must provide these valuable programs with stable funding that does not dip so dramatically during economic downturns.
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?
I’ve been an advocate for social and racial justice for 20 years, and I believe that at the state level we need to push for laws that protect immigrants and migrant workers, as well as pass laws which all reduce the incarceration epidemic 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?
First, we should fight back against budget cuts that eliminate good-paying state jobs. Second, we must fix our state’s broken tax system, which is the most regressive in the nation. Finally, we need to support state programs which increase the stock of affordable housing in this state.
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?
I would push the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division to more rigorously crack down on predatory lenders. I would also support stricter consumer protection laws in the legislature. In particular we need put further restrictions on pay-day loans which have bankrupted countless families in Washington State.
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.
Possible policies we could pass to address this problem include preventing employers from rejecting candidates who have criminal histories if there is no obvious connection between the crime they committed and the job they are applying for and or decreasing the barriers to receiving public assistance for housing.
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?
We need to continue to work on improving the administration of the Affordable Care Act in Washington State so that all families eligible for assistance can gain coverage. I would also support pursuing a waiver from the Obama administration allowing our state o pursues a single payer health care system.