I am a tireless advocate for racial, social, and economic justice. As a student, I fought for farmworker housing rights in Olympia. Race is a lens through which I view all my work. We know that people of color are disproportionately criminalized, and deprived of good jobs, quality education, and healthy housing. In my own life as a woman of color, raising children of color, I have encountered and addressed discrimination. As your Senator, I am committed to addressing underlying roots of the problem.
Our elected leaders must work with community advocates to change laws that discriminate against people of color. We need targeted investments in education, economic development and safety net services for low-income families and families of color to overcome historic institutional barriers. Raising the minimum wage and paid family and medical leave is a definite start. We must also support community-controlled economic development programs, prevent income discrimination for housing, and support “fair chance” employment and contracting policies.
We need to improve our community policing programs. Police must be better trained to avoid racial profiling. We also need to set priorities for the police based on community needs. Everyone in Washington should feel safe and protected.
A high-quality public education is the best way to prepare our kids for the careers of the future. This means ensuring that we fund a public education system that works for all children. Regardless of their starting place in society, our educational system should cultivate our children’s unique strengths. It must address the negative impacts of institutional racism so that education can create opportunities for every child to be successful in our community and our economy. That is why I will work with my colleagues and community advocates to advance legislation recommended by the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight & Accountability Committee.
In 2017, the Washington State Legislature demonstrated a commitment to fully fund education in our state. However, I- along with many of us - do not support our over-reliance on regressive property taxes to fund education. I support closing the corporate tax loopholes and a progressive tax on capital gains, to ensure the wealthiest among us pay their fair share.
In addition fully and fairly funding education, we also need to address other impediments to a high-quality education. This includes access to transit and transportation, affordable and nutritious meals and medical care.
On the higher education front, we need to fully fund the State Needs Grant program so that all Washington residents can have the promise of education without debt. We need to make sure that Washington GET is a savings program that works for families like mine who are still expecting to put three more children through higher education. I also support continuing the tuition freeze and capping university operating fee increases to the average annual growth of the Washington State median hourly wage.
ENVIRONMENT & ENERGY
We have a responsibility to leave things better than we found them. As your State Senator, I will work to advance policies and investments in a clean energy economy, fight for a fair transportation system, and work to strengthen our protections for clean air and water.
We must also defend against proposals to transport more oil and coal through Washington. These transports open us to risks of oil derailments, congestion from rail traffic and oil or coal spills going directly into our waterways.
We also need to invest in protecting our communities against climate change. This means tackling the climate gap - lower-income people of color do the least to cause climate change but experience the worst impacts from current pollution and future impacts. Our state will successfully and sustainably reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by centering our policy on the leadership of communities impacted most and ensuring investments are made equitably.
Much of my career has been focused on improving access for immigrants, people of color, and low-wage workers to the health care system. We need to continue to invest in the workers and infrastructure in our healthcare system to ensure patients receive the best possible care. As your State Senator, I have focused on working with unionized medical interpreters, and community health clinics to improve access to quality, affordable, and timely medical interpreters for our providers and patients. Every Washingtonian should be able to communicate with their healthcare provider.
We also need to act now to ensure we have access to affordable health insurance. I am supportive of efforts like we have seen in California and Nevada to implement more progressive single-payer healthcare systems. Along with Senators Chase and Hasegawa, I co-sponsored Senate Bill 5957 in 2017 which would establish comprehensive single-payer health care coverage for all Washingtonians.
As a former union organizer, I’ve worked hard to protect the rights of workers throughout our region. I am dedicated to ensuring a thriving local economy. We should incentivize businesses to grow with good paying, permanent jobs. As your State Senator, I fight to keep “right to work” policies out of our state.
I will work with local businesses and worker advocates to ensure fair implementation of our statewide minimum wage and paid leave laws. Raising labor standards is essential to allow historically low-wage workforces more stability and autonomy to provide for their families and reinvest earnings in our local businesses. It is imperative to hold businesses accountable for new labor standards and protections. I support funding for enforcement programs that proactively monitor compliance. Businesses that treat their workers fairly and pay them a living wage should not have to compete against bad actors.
In addition, we know that communities of color face the biggest barriers when it comes to access to good jobs. I will work on increasing apprenticeship utilization and funding for pre-apprenticeship programs proven to get women and people of color into good construction careers. We must close the gender wage gap and ensure that women of color - who are the most impacted by the gender wage gap - are at the front and center of passing this policy.
Every Washingtonian deserves to live with dignity and our respect. I believe that access to public and private services should never be denied because of someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. I will fight any legislation that takes away the ability of transgender people to use single-sex facilities according to their gender identity.
We must also ensure that no child is bullied because of who they are and that our LGBTQ elders have access to the support they need as they age. Finally, we need to provide healthcare services in a culturally appropriate way for our transgender citizens and ensure that “conversion therapy” has no place in our state.
I draw strength from the pride my daughter feels in me as her State Senator. Working together we will build a Washington where our daughters have more opportunities. We took an important step forward this year when we passed one of the most progressive family and medical leave laws in the country. It's not nearly over. I'm fighting every day for equal pay for equal work. And I will never accept any infringement on a woman's right to choose the medical care she needs. That's why I supported legislation that requires private insurers to give women the right to access a 12 month prescription for contraceptives.
I'm proud of my work to improve the care that pregnant women and their children receive in our healthcare facilities. I sponsored bipartisan legislation that requires hospitals to allow mothers to have their babies on their chest immediately after birth and keep their new baby in the room with them. It also requires the Department of Labor and Industries to provide education to employers on their responsibilities to pregnant women. It requires the Attorney General to investigate any complaints if these responsibilities aren't met. This bill was signed into law by Governor Inslee on May 16, 2017.
Too much of our tax burden rests on those least able to afford it. We know that we have the most regressive tax structure in the country. We need to stop relying on taxes that put a larger burden on low income and working families and fight to ensure the wealthiest among us pay their fair share to fund the services we all depend on.
That's why I voted against the Legislature's property tax increases in 2017. We must introduce progressive taxation in order to fund our social, educational, health and public safety needs. I support a capital gains tax and a progressive Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) to hold those at the top accountable for paying their fair share. In addition, I support sunsetting corporate tax breaks that serve to only line the pockets of large, multi-national corporations rather than investing those dollars in our community. I also support an equitable carbon revenue policy and the creation of a public infrastructure investment bank.
Equitable transportation is a priority for me. I sought out a place on the Senate’s Transportation Committee as soon as I got to Olympia. New transportation investments must directly address the historic segregation and unequal opportunities caused by our past transportation and development policies. Our region is growing and lower income people are being pushed further out of central Seattle. It is critical that we have a transportation system that serves all communities in our region - regardless of income level. I have fought for transportation equity in the 37th district and will continue to do this work as your State Senator.
We also need to look at additional funding options for transportation. I support an equitable carbon policy that would generate new revenues. Some of these should be invested to advance carbon neutral transportation choices. Working together we need to create a state-owned infrastructure bank so that we can leverage more revenue out of our bonded projects. Instead of sending our taxpayer dollars to Wall Street to service debt, we can keep that money in Washington to invest in our communities.