Increasing Transportation Projects
For too long Washington State has focused their resources on Seattle and King County. We need to keep leadership which focuses on representing the rural parts of our district. We need effective transportation, and strong roads and bridges to keep our community connected and moving, to keep goods flowing from lumber yards, warehouses, fisheries, and docks and to our stores. Last session, as a member of the Transportation Committee, I was proud to work with a coalition of advocates to fund the Highway 12 Rail Separation project in East Aberdeen. These types of projects are crucial for our community to reduce congestion and create safer intersections. I will continue to fight for transportation projects to be funded in Longview, Aberdeen, and all the places of our home often forgotten by those who commonly draft the budget.
Rebuilding our Economy
Southwest Washington has unique challenges and opportunities that differ greatly from the greater Seattle area. We need to do everything we can to preserve this special place while continuing to increase economic opportunities for working people in Southwest Washington. But we can’t do that without someone who can ensure state policy is crafted to work for us all.
Our state is left struggling with the effects of the pandemic. Small businesses and families are impacted the hardest. With permanent closures of businesses and millions of people laid off work, we need to reset. We need an economic system which fights for all people. I supported the much-needed social safety nets, increased unemployment benefits and expanding benefits for non-traditional employees. I will continue the work of last session to expand benefits, reduce safety net cuts and ensure that our economy opens quickly and safely. I will work to bring jobs and public work projects to our communities, to help jump-start our economy.
Ensuring Fiscal Responsibility
It is so important that our government is trustworthy and accountable to the public. It’s your money and every public dollar spent by the government needs to be accounted for and transparent to the public. I want the people of our community to understand where every dollar in government is spent and where it came from.
We face a large budget deficit caused by economic impacts stemming from coronavirus, as well as a legal mandate to fully fund education and other necessary programs to benefit the people of this state. I would love to be able to promise tax cuts, but the reality is that given the legal obligations this state has towards its students, plus necessary spending on healthcare, infrastructure maintenance and construction, security, and the other critical functions of state government, there is simply not much fat to trim. However, I do commit to working to reduce the tax burden on working people of this state, if possible to do so.
We cannot cut essential services, de-fund education and healthcare, or stop road maintenance to close the budget gap, especially during an economic crisis. We must be responsible with our promises and work to serve the citizens of this state, by ensuring that the roads, schools, and assistance they need in order to succeed are maintained, even through tough times, instead of irresponsible and impractical promises.
Safe Schools and Strong Education
Students and teachers will face a daunting challenge as we prepare for an uncertain future in classrooms next year. Our teachers need support and funding to adequately prepare for a completely new type of learning: distance learning and online. While we do not know what next school year will look like, we need to bring strong leadership to prepare students and teachers for the road ahead. Together, we can decide how we will rebuild and restructure education systems to protect and serve all participants, and to protect education funding.
Expanding Rural Broadband
As more parents and families work and learn from home, the importance of access to fast and reliable internet has never been more relevant. In the rural parts of our community, we have been underserved when it comes to our access to the internet. Many places in our district do not have reliable, high-speed internet. This pandemic highlights the inadequate broadband services in many parts of our community. We need leaders who will collaborate with internet providers and compromise to find solutions which leave everyone better off. I will continue my work last session bringing high speed internet to every part of our community, and especially for school-aged kids.
Access to Healthcare
During a pandemic, health care needs to be a top priority. Ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, life-saving medications will continue to be crucial to our global recovery. Too many families have to choose between food and necessary medications for their loved ones.
Not only is it crucial for families to have access to health insurance, but also it is imperative that Washington provides high quality health care options for those in need. Covid-19 has shone a light on the inadequate systems we currently have, with half a million people losing their health insurance in the first six week of the pandemic shutdown. We need to rebuild our health insurance structure to ensure everyone is covered. I will fight to establish health care as a basic human right for all Washingtonians.