I am excited to be back in Olympia for the 2013 Legislative Session. As our state continues to climb out of the recession, I look forward to advocating for the policies and funding necessary to realize our shared visions of Washington’s future.
One of the biggest challenges facing the Legislature this session will be figuring out how to fully fund basic education. From its earliest days as a state, Washington has emphasized the importance of basic education and many of our greatest strengths stem from our investments in an educated population.
Our state’s best chance to grow the economy and continue to thrive is a robust education system.
For too many years we have shortchanged our children’s basic education. Last year, our state Supreme Court agreed with what teachers and parents have been advocating for years: the Legislature has a mandate to fund basic education at a level that ensures all of Washington’s kids obtain the education and skills they need to get good jobs in this 21st century economy.
I do not believe that funding basic education should come at the expense of state support for other important programs like higher education or social services. Over the past few years, the legislature, and ultimately the people of Washington state have been forced to make many sacrifices in order to balance a shrinking state budget.
Going forward, we must begin to look at sustainable methods for fully funding basic education while continuing to provide the services and protections that define our state as one of opportunity and prosperity.
I believe our best shot at finding long-term solutions to this funding shortfall must include taking a serious look at our revenue sources. This year I am serving on the newly created House Finance Committee to look specifically at revenue and tax reform.
There are many great ideas out there about how we can create a more just, fair, and sustainable tax structure including closing tax loopholes, taxes on incomes, taxing capital gains, to name just a few.
I am looking forward to examining these ideas as a member of the Finance Committee to see what will work best for our unique state.
In addition to serving on the House Finance Committee, this year I will be returning to the Transportation committee, continuing to serve as Vice Chair of the Local Government committee, and joining the Government Operations and Elections committee.
The House Transportation Committee considers not only bills relating to transportation policy, but also the transportation budget. My commitment to funding many modes of transportation, from ferries and bike paths to roads and mass transit, remains strong and I look forward to tackling many of our most pressing needs on this committee.
The House Local Government Committee examines issues concerning the operations and finance of counties, cities, and some special districts. It also examines issues concerning the State Environmental Policy Act, the Growth Management Act, and issues of land use. Most of our local governments are still struggling with low revenues and high needs.
The House Government Operations & Elections Committee looks at a broad range of topics including elections, campaign finance, public disclosure and government ethics. As an advocate for voter access and civic engagement, I believe it is especially important to make sure that government and all its processes are as transparent and accessible as possible.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, bill ideas, or other issues that may come up, I always look forward to hearing from the great people of the 34th District.