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. 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'm committed to making that potential a reality.
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 so you can get to and from your destination.
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 work for 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, so that every child has a chance at success.
Fighting for the truly vulnerable
At the same time, government spending on social services 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.