We must first start by fully funding education. All students must have access to a high quality education in order to be successful in life. School is often the area students feel safe, where their learning disabilities and health concerns are spotted by their teachers, and where many get their meals. Fully funding education rather than relying on local levy dollars will help make education more equitable for all students regardless of their economic or ethnic background.
Next we must work to create more classes for both career and college readiness. Too many schools are removing the career and technical education that is so valuable for our students. These classes not only give real world skills, but are often the reason many of my students stayed in until graduation. They may not have planned to go to college but loved their auto and culinary classes and that is what got them through. We must be careful not to push graduation over education. Graduation is extremely important, but if we do not make sure that all students can achieve and be successful in both life and work we are not giving them the education they deserve.
While the legislature has made large strides in fully funding schools there are still gaps that need to be addressed. Levy dollars have lessened, but districts still rely on them to meet the basic needs for students and one down vote by the local area can mean significant cuts to student education. Another issue is that the state’s tax system is incredibly regressive and trade dependent. A dip in the economy or lowered trade from tariffs means significant unreliability within educational funding. We must find more stable revenue sources and work to fix the tax system. Another issue is that special education allotments do not cover the full cost for the districts making them fill in the holes with funds that had been allocated for other areas. Finally the new formula for teacher pay can actually hurt districts with more experienced teachers.
The state government can influence the growth of living wage jobs by targeting public investments that boost the economy in areas such as: fully funding education (boosts the quality of the workforce and growth of small businesses), invest in infrastructure (creates jobs, decreases travel time, increases economic growth), target investment where the most job creation takes place (small business and start-ups), and tie tax breaks to job retention and growth.
Growing our economy is about creating economic activity, which means residents must have the ability to live and shop within their communities, providing opportunities for more local small businesses to flourish. As we grow we must also be aware of our impact on the environment and work to promote environmentally friendly construction. Maintaining a good environment is good for residents and brings people to the state. More people means more buildings for work and more construction for better transportation.
Only when our unions are strong will our economy be strong. As a history teacher I know the history of the US shows it is unions that helped made the US a superpower and created a strong middle class. Unions have always been the leaders in improving the rights, wages, and working conditions for all workers. I know the importance of collective bargaining, and I have heard the horror stories of teachers in "Right to Work for less" states and the negative impact such legislation has had.
Washington state has an opportunity to expand the workforce by transitioning to clean energy in solar, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, and tidal energy. These industries offer jobs not only in the day to day operations, but through design, construction, and maintenance. With our changing climate wind energy can help sustain farms that are experiencing the loss of their crops due to pests and drought. New jobs, sustainable energy, safer jobs, and an increase in tech jobs that pay more will benefit the environment and the economy.
As our state transitions away from fossil fuels we must continue investing in green jobs. Job training opportunities must be expanded so that workers have opportunities to pursue new careers and learn the skills needed to transition. Washington state has an amazing opportunity to expand the workforce by transitioning to clean energy. With so many renewable resources within the state we can increase jobs in solar, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, and in the work that the universities are doing with tidal energy. These industries will offer jobs not only in the day to day operations, but through design, construction, and maintenance as well. To do this we must promote the growth of these industries as well as increasing job training. Job training is essential for a successful transition to renewable energy. New jobs, sustainable energy, safer jobs, and an increase in tech jobs that pay more will benefit the environment and the economy.
Affordable and accessible health care is incredibly important to all Washingtonians. No one should have to make the choice between feeding their families and taking their child to the doctor. No one should have to tell their child they can’t get care because they aren’t deemed “valuable enough” to receive care. All residents should have access to affordable care. I support a move to a single-payer systems/ Medicare/ Healthcare for all. It is likely that we can to see about healthcare or all and ways to finance without raising current taxes, and still saving money for the individual/ state/ and businesses. Everyone having coverage saves money as people can go to their doctors early on before the condition becomes more serious and results in a visit to the emergency room. We have the ability to make sure all residents are covered, we just need legislators to have the will to see it through.
Washington relies too heavily on regressive taxes such as sales tax. Almost 70% of state revenue comes from sales taxes which unfairly punish the poor and working class. Our system does not cover all the public safety, infrastructure, public health, and educational needs. Our middle class is shrinking as more and more drop to lower middle-class/ poor, and yet the richest in the US are taking more of the nation's wealth. Family wage jobs are shrinking as laws such as "right to work for less" are enacted that benefit the wealthy, but not the average worker. We must work together with all stakeholders to create a more equitable tax system that works. Tax incentives must be tied to wage and job retention within the state. They should not be permanent, but have expiration dates allowing the legislature to determine if they should be continued, or removed, based upon their ability to improve the economy through job retention and competitive wages for their workers.
Our rail lines, roads, and bridges are in a state of disrepair and need to be updated to maintain economic growth. To do this we must invest in infrastructure to keep Washington moving. The exit between 410 and 167 is failing, 167 isn't supposed to be finished for years, the extra lane they added to 167 stops around the King County line and makes miles of back-ups south into the 25th LD every day. Fifty percent of the workers who live in Pierce County work outside our county and congestion is continuing to get worse. As Washington continues to grow we need more rapid transit during all hours of the day to enable public transportation options that work for residents.