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?
Beyond fully funding education by closing tax loopholes and ensuring corporations are paying their fair share, we must also make sure that kids have the needed resources before and after school. From nutrition programs to make sure kids aren’t going to school hungry, to after school programs to help kids with homework, it needs to be a holistic approach. We also need to make post secondary education more accessible by reducing fees and keeping tuition costs down.
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?
Our tax structure is the most regressive in the nation and we must start a serious conversation about changing that. In the short term, closing tax loopholes will bring in some revenues and raising our minimum wage will help spur spending and grow our economy.
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 will not sacrifice safety net spending for increases in education spending, as many have suggested in the past. We need to take a serious look at our justice system and incarceration rates and look to save millions by not just throwing people in prison and pretending they are not there.
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?
We have to start with the worst offenders of institutional racism (i.e. our prison system). There can be no justification for “business as usual” attitudes. Racism must be exposed and stopped.
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 a $12 and hour minimum wage. As a small business owner who pays above the current minimum wage to ALL of my employees as well as offer paid sick leave to all, I know that a living wage is good for my business, my employees, and my community.
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?
Pay day loans must be subject to stricter regulations and the Attorney General should have all of the tools that office needs to go after predatory lenders.
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.
Training, education, drug and alcohol treatment are just few things that need to be happening in our prisons. I am proudly endorsed by Representative Mary Helen Roberts who has stood up for these issues long before most people. 95% of people in prison will come out to join our communities. They need to have to tools to adjust and become involved. We must also restructure the system of financial fines and penalties that keep people in a perpetual state of debt and uncertainty, even when they are doing there best to join their communities.
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 have made a great start with our adoption of the ACA, but it’s just a start. I am proudly endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice Washington and will stand firm on ANY attempt to reduce services or coverage for women’s health. The recent Hobby Lobby decision makes it all to clear how much these basic rights are under attack.