Bringing our values to Olympia
Recently, I was sworn in for my first term as your representative in Olympia. I know there are many challenges facing the Legislature this session, and I look forward to the opportunities these challenges present to make positive, progressive changes for our communities in our district and around the state. This year I had the honor of being elected Vice Chair of both the Healthcare & Wellness Committee and the Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Affairs Committee. I also serve on the Capital Budget Committee.
Fully funding our public schools is a top priority this session. I’ve shared more thoughts on this below.
State funding for public education is not the only issue we need to focus on this year; we also need to continue looking out for all people in Washington state. As Speaker Frank Chopp said during his opening remarks at the start of this session, “Our constitutional duty is to fund our students who are learning. Our moral imperative is to care for our people who are suffering.” From civil rights to housing affordability, healthcare, career and college access, to the climate and environment, holding firm to our priorities and values has become even more urgent by actions we’ve seen in Congress and the incoming administration.
The task in front of the Legislature is not an easy one, but I am ready to stand up for our children, students, all families, people of color, immigrants, the LGBT community, and all marginalized communities. With yesterday’s presidential inauguration, I commit to do all I can in my new role to defend against attacks on the progress we’ve made. We must make sure that our shared values as progressives are upheld.
I’m grateful for this opportunity, and am ready work on your behalf. I will appreciate your guidance throughout this legislative session. Please find my contact information at the bottom of this e-newsletter and reach out to me.
Opportunity for all kids – our Paramount Duty
The bipartisan Education Funding Task Force, created by the Legislature last April, was supposed to provide specific, tangible recommendations to the Legislature by January 9 to address these problems. Democrats showed up to come up with real solutions to the teacher compensation problem. Our proposal pays public school teachers what they deserve to be paid, ends the reliance on local levies, and creates new accounting requirements to ensure education will be fully funded for the next generation of students. You can read a summary of the proposed solutions here.
Washington has a constitutional mandate to provide public education for all kids in our state. In fact, it’s our “paramount duty.” For the last several decades, the state has failed to adequately fund basic education, which means our 1.1 million K-12 students aren’t all getting the same opportunities to succeed. Lawmakers have known about the educational funding deficiencies for years. The Legislature cannot keep ignoring this responsibility.
No more excuses. No more delays. The Legislature needs to step up and fully fund education NOW!
After seven months of meetings, Republicans have proposed no tangible solutions and are only offering up what they call “guiding principles.”
I agree with this editorial that we will need to come together to fully fund our schools, just as the Legislature has solved challenging issues through collaborative effort in the past.
What repealing Obamacare might mean for you
This week I was thrilled to address teens from Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council. Their energy and commitment to defend reproductive rights and increase access to services is inspiring. Many of us are concerned about the harm that will be done by repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Congress has made it clear that some change is coming. Whether that means a full repeal, a partial repeal with some key provisions remaining, or a replacement, we don’t know. So far no replacement plan has been offered and no specific date has been set for taking action on the ACA.
Until we know exactly what will happen, we don’t know how it will impact Washington residents who purchase plans through the Health Exchange or what it will mean for your insurance provider rates or services provided. One thing is certain—stealing healthcare from 18 million Americans would result in pain, suffering, and death for many vulnerable people. That would be a reprehensible action that I cannot accept.
I also remain particularly concerned that repealing the ACA will make it more difficult to access contraception, abortion services, and the full range of reproductive healthcare. What I can tell you is this: 780,000 Washingtonians will be affected by repealing the ACA, including 180,000 who signed up for coverage through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. We have expanded Medicaid access to over 600,000 people in our state who, for the most part, were previously uninsured. And individuals who purchase their own health insurance or receive coverage through their employer plans have had free preventative care, the ability to cover children up until the age of 26, and seen an end to the lifetime limits on their policies. That will almost certainly change if the ACA is repealed without a replacement that addresses those needs.
Here in our Washington, Democrats worked to ensure that Apple Health for Kids helped children get the health care they needed, even before the Affordable Care Act. I will do everything in my power to make sure that, no matter what Congress and the new president do to your health care, Washington remains a place where someone can always get the care they need.