Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Every session takes on a personality. As we conclude the first few weeks of our 105-day session, the tone is intense and nervous. Everyone is intense about having things heard and gaming position for the days and weeks to come.
My priorities this session:
Basic education: There is no doubt in my mind part of the tension comes from the large elephant in the room – McCleary. This is the Supreme Court decision that mandates Article 9, Section 1 of the Washington State Constitution requiring the full funding of basic education. This is our paramount duty. This provides a sound, statutory constitutional structure on what we need to accomplish first. Then, we can move on to other issues that we need to budget proportionately for.
Higher education: Around 40-years ago, higher education was around 75-80 percent subsidized, making it affordable and attractive to students and families to continue their education. Now, higher education is only about 25 percent subsidized, leaving students and families 85 percent of the costs coming out-of-pocket, or through student loans. Access to higher education should not be limited because of the expense. We need to bring down the costs of tuition, textbooks and supplies.
Public safety: Police and fire have been under attack for a number of years. It is time to emphasize protecting our public servants in our police and fire departments. It is an extremely important concern for me. I will be meeting with several committees to discuss protecting police and the enforcement of their duties. Law enforcement needs to have the ability to do their jobs without fear of retaliation. They have to make quality life-or-death decisions for the right reasons and deserve to be protected.
Transportation: We need to protect the north-south corridor in Spokane. We are still paying a gas tax to provide funding for this project. We need to make sure during the 16-year build out period anticipated to complete this corridor, and somewhere in the next 7-8 election cycles, the importance of this project does not deescalate.
Stay tuned in upcoming e-newsletters for information on bills I have sponsored and other important issues facing the Legislature.
As always, I want to know what you think about these and other issues that affect you. I'm here to serve you and help in any way I can. You play a critical role in the legislative process and I am always happy to meet with you on issues important to our communities. My Legislative Assistant, Will Rasavage, will also be happy to assist you with making an appointment, answering questions, or helping you navigate interactions with state agencies.
It's an honor to serve as your state representative.