Since I was elected two years ago, Washington has been subjected to the deepest budget cuts – going to the heart of what I care about most: education. After brutal cuts in 2011, we still ended up with more to cut to balance the existing budget. This year, we faced cuts that put more of our education budget on the table. Yes, it required special sessions, but we prevented further education cuts.
I remain committed to better schools and finding a secure source of funds for future school needs. I am actively engaged and interested in identifying reforms to education that go beyond simple clichés. My goals are the same as the day you elected me – only now I have some solutions which have been voted into law.
- Every student deserves a quality teacher in the classroom. State-wide implementation of new teacher/principal evaluation system to ensure there is a great teacher in front of every student and a great principal in every building. This pilot implementation to all schools in our state focuses on student growth and teacher growth to ensure every student has a quality teacher in the classroom.
- Education for jobs of the future. STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics grants that will help students train for the future manufacturing skills programs for skill centers, and specialized STEM courses for high schools.
- Increased technology to save money spent on textbooks. Open source textbooks aligned with the new Common Core education standards. Cutting costs and providing the most current text books for K-12 students by using on-line technology.
- Building collaborative relationships between colleges of education and struggling schools. Collaborative Schools for Innovation and Success (CSIS) will help turn around struggling public schools by creating pilot programs that encourages colleges to partner with underachieving elementary schools.
- Long-term student success begins with quality early learning. We continue to make investments that increase the number of educational opportunities for children. This session we passed legislation that requires the Department of Early Learning to adopt core competency standards to serve as a foundation for what early care and education professionals and child and youth development professionals need to know and do to provide quality care for children.
Why is it that we all talk about the economy as recovering but never recovered? We are all under the stress of this seemingly endless recession: there are still too many of our friends unemployed, kids home for the summer have little chance of a job, and there are businesses newly boarded up and buildings sitting empty. But, in Olympia, the economy never left our sights. Our job was to do more to encourage more jobs … and that’s what we did.
- Economic recovery through the creation of jobs. The JOBS Now Act puts 22,000 people back to work around the state and maintains critical state infrastructure.
- Supplying businesses with a skilled workforce. Washington’s aerospace businesses are having difficulty finding skilled workers. We are improving our alignment between aerospace industry needs and training programs, getting more information and evaluation of existing training programs, and updating them so the trainings lead to the kind of jobs we need.
- Maintaining a strong infrastructure. The Transportation budget supports over 43,000 jobs throughout our state. In order for our economy to thrive, businesses need a vibrant infrastructure that moves people and goods efficiently.
Our ferries – our marine highways, are key to our economic viability not only to our local communities but our entire state. As a member of the bipartisan, bicameral Ferry Caucus, finding funding for maintenance and operations, and funding for updating the fleet, continues to be a challenge. Short-term, the good news is another new ferry will be built.
- Ferries are integral to our economic infrastructure. Funding for the 2nd 144-car capacity vessel is included in the Transportation budget.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
As someone elected with the strong support of the environmental community, I continue to be a solid vote for a clean and progressive environment, with a policy engagement that can be counted upon when the going gets tough and the budgets get cut. I believe in doing better when it comes to keeping faith with the generations who came before us and are depending on us for the future. My focus has never been more clear:
- Saving our farmland heritage. Agricultural lands are put on the same level as other natural resource lands for protection, making farmland protection a priority in our state.
- A safer marine environment. Better communication and coordination of reporting of derelict nets and fishing gear lost over time in our marine waters that pose serious harm to fish, marine mammals and birds.
- Cleaner, healthier air for all. Brings all counties into compliance with federal clean air standards by addressing pollution from wood stoves, without harming those who rely on wood stoves as their sole source of heat.
- Keeping pollutants out of our waterways. Streamlines the permitting process for installation of water filters for storm-water treatment of our boatyards.