The state constitution describes public education as the state's "paramount duty." The legislature has an obligation to create an effective education system that prepares every student for success in college and career. The state has made substantial strides in the last decade, both at fully funding and effectively reforming our education system. For the first time in decades, more than half of the state's budget is dedicated to schools, and we have made much progress in focusing that money on strategies that work, while holding schools accountable to students, parents, and taxpayers.
Yet even with that progress, there is no time to rest. Washington still has one of the largest gaps in the country between the academic results of kids in poor and rich districts. We need to raise standards for all schools while allowing high-performing districts to expand and share the methods of their success. We also need to connect learning--especially in high school--with the kinds of careers that today's students will fill when they graduate. Above all, we must be committed to the success of every student in Washington.
High-quality jobs are the result of a strong and growing economy. Yet too often the government stands in the way, hampering job creators with red tape, high taxes, and little help. I see it first-hand in my day job as in-house lawyer for a family-owned trucking company. Businesses, especially small businesses, regularly find the government to be a hindrance to their success, rather than a collaborator. That needs to change.
So many aspects of Washington are attractive to world-beating companies: no income tax, a beautiful environment, an educated work force. If the government can be reformed and held accountable so that it does not stand in the way, Washington can and should be the number one state in the country to start and run a business. I oppose Seattle's misguided tax on jobs, which will harm the entire region and will ultimately hurt those who most need the security and dignity of a good job.
"Above all, we must be committed to the success of every student in Washington"
"Washington can and should be the number one state in the country to start and run a business"
As a Fall City resident who commutes daily to South King County for work, I understand how important an efficient transportation system is. It serves as the backbone of our economy and plays a crucial role in our quality of life. I promised to focus on the Highway 18/I-90 interchange, and I'm proud to say that through hard, bi-partisan work, the schedule for fixing that dangerous and congested intersection was moved up by six years.
The work is not done, however. Too many commuters sit in traffic on the Maple Valley Highway, on 516, and in Issaquah. Improvements are needed so that traffic can get moving and you can spend less time on the road and more time with your families. Sound Transit needs to be reformed and held accountable, and skyrocketing car tabs need to be grounded. I promise always to fight for East King County commuters, and to work collaboratively to improve our transportation system.
I believe in open and transparent government. I was stunned when I learned that the legislature has a special exemption from the Public Records Act, which applies to every other elected official and government employee in the state. I introduced a bill to apply the Public Records Act to the legislature. I repeatedly asked for a hearing, but was denied. When the legislature instead rushed through a bill to require disclosure of only a few legislative documents, I was in the small minority that voted no.
I believe in the purpose of the Public Records Act, adopted by the initiative, that "[t[he people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created." I promise always to be transparent about the decisions I make, and to fight for the open government you deserve.
Fighting for the Truly Vulnerable
I've spent much of my legal career representing foster kids in trial courts at no cost. I've seen first-hand how challenging life is for the most vulnerable in our state, and I'm committed to fighting for their interests. That requires compassion on the one hand, and hard work and clear priorities on the other. I was proud to support major reforms to our foster care system in the legislature, and will work to make sure that the system stays focused and spends taxpayer money wisely.
At the same time, government spending on social services more generally often represents a short-sighted compassion, one that encourages dependency, punishes work, harms taxpayers, and is unfair. We need smart programs that encourage people to lift themselves up, and we must always crack down on waste, fraud and abuse. As your advocate in Olympia, I am committed to fighting for the truly vulnerable, while shepherding limited taxpayer funds wisely.
Standing up for Basic Freedoms
Speech. Assembly. Conscience. Worship. Dissent. Advocacy. Due process. Open government. Our founding documents secure those rights, which are essential to a healthy society. And yet they each face threats today, sometimes from the left and sometimes from the right. Those freedoms deserve a robust defense, not only in our courts, but in our legislature as well.
Whether it involves freedom of the press, the rights of the accused, the ability to practice one's religion, the opportunity to oversee and influence the workings of the government, or the basic right to speak and publish freely, I am proud to be a champion for our foundational rights in Olympia.
Property Tax Relief
Thanks to a growing economy, the State has been receiving more taxes than it anticipated. I believe that money should be returned to taxpayers. Here in East King County, our property taxes have gone up substantially over the past several years, and many people—especially those on fixed incomes—no longer can afford to live in their homes. We can fund the priorities of government with lower taxes, and property tax relief is my top budget priority.