As we face a global pandemic and record levels of unemployment, it is unconscionable that we still have a healthcare and insurance system that is predicated on people’s jobs. We need a universal, single-payer healthcare that will ensure that a situation like this will never happen again. Access to quality care is a human right and should not be treated as a luxury.
I am the only candidate in this race who has endorsed the Whole Washington initiative that seeks to get us to that universal healthcare goal. I am also proud to have been a cosponsor of legislation in the Senate to chart the path to universal single-payer healthcare in our state. I have supported and voted for a state public option, one of the strongest prescription drug transparency laws in the nation, as well as urgent action to bring down insulin costs for those who rely on life-saving medication so we can bridge the gap while health officials in our state make the road map to stronger universal access.
As Lt. Governor, I will use my platform and position as Chair of the Senate Rules Committee to move progressive, accessible healthcare legislation, bring stakeholders from across the state to the table to make actionable plans for reform, and ensure universal healthcare becomes a major priority of the legislature. We cannot wait any longer for reform of our healthcare system – we need institutional change that gives everyone equitable access to affordable care.
I have been proud to push for the largest expansion in mass transit in our state’s history by sponsoring legislation for ST3. That is a critical step to connect our region and economy, keep up with growth, and provide a more sustainable transit options, but we have more work to do. We must look to the future and how we can best invest in multimodal transportation that connects job centers to neighborhoods.
There is a direct correlation to wage growth and access to increased transit options – expanding multimodal transit of the future will have the added benefit of building the middle class while also slashing our greenhouse gas emissions. As Lt. Governor I am looking forward to being a continued advocate and liaison for local governments looking to be connected for transportations systems of the future that keep Washington working.
Homelessness and housing have been a persistent issue all across Washington. COVID- 19 has laid bare the inequity that many of us already saw in our economy and it has deepened the impact on people experiencing homelessness. As a member of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, I am proud of the investments that we have made in recent years to help communities across Washington fight homelessness and build more housing, but there is much more to be done.
As Lt. Governor, I will prioritize more wrap-around services including supportive housing, and additional investments in a multitude of housing options and additional density near transit. I have been part of that effort already with legislation to mandate more backyard cottages and mother-in-law apartments (accessible dwelling units) in Washington.
This should be paired with a doubled effort on tenant protections, keeping people in their homes, and providing support when they are a paycheck or less from homelessness. Housing first policies are the next step to give folks the resources and help they need to stay on their feet and build a better life for themselves and their families.
Homelessness is a multifaceted issue, I look forward to continuing these conversations and progressive policy changes as Lt. Governor.
I was a very proud supporter of passing the nation’s first Long-Term Care Trust Act here in Washington. As we approach the “gray wave,” we know our overburdened system of benefits for the elderly is going to be stretched thin, but as a result of our state’s Long-Term Care Trust Act, we are starting to set aside funds now, before it’s too late. I will never support capping pensions and I have proudly supported cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for our retired public employees so that they can live with dignity.
I also worked with my Senate colleagues to pass a Secure Choice retirement plan in Washington, giving every worker in our state access to a state sponsored retirement plan modeled on similar plans in Oregon and California. This opt out retirement plan creates a low-cost, well-run choice for workers who don’t have options from their employer and it creates a savings plan for retirement that can also be tapped if low-wage workers face family emergencies. Everyone in our society deserves retirement security, and we must ensure that every worker has access to the tools they need to plan ahead.
I am proud to have helped secure billions in the Legislature for Washington’s public schools, complying with the McCleary Decision. However, this additional funding got us to a base level – our schools are still in need of additional funding for smaller classes, more counselors, and special education services, especially in rural areas where resources are tight. We know that increased investments in k-12 and higher education are the best avenues for recovering from an economic crisis — we must redouble our commitment to our schools and our kids and resolve to not cut education funding going forward.
This should also be combined with increased higher education opportunities that are available to all. I’m proud to have been part of historic investments in higher education so now Washington students in low and middle income families can go to college for free or reduced tuition. I’ve also worked to make financial aid available to more students, including undocumented learners and Dreamers.
The Lt. Governor’s office has become a champion of higher education access and opportunity, leading a series of programs for youth leadership and college prep, and pioneering a program that creates pathways for folks in the trades to earn a college degree. As Lt. Governor, I am looking forward to expanding these programs and continuing to be an advocate for education funding.
Our state has the most regressive tax system in the country, with lower and middle income families paying disproportionately more of their income in taxes than Washington’s millionaires and billionaires.
In the State Senate, I have been an advocate for a more equitable tax structure and have consistently voted for progressive tax reform in order to right side up our tax code and ensure that all are paying their fair share. In the State Senate’s 2019 finance package, we took important steps to close loopholes on corporate taxes and lower real estate taxes for low and middle income families, while raising it for the multibillion dollar corporations. While we did not get every win needed to achieve more balanced tax structures, it has set a precedent that we must make progress on including closing the loophole on a capital gains tax, an excessive compensation tax so executives of major corporations pay their fair share, and doubling the estate tax which was slashed by the Trump administration.
We need to generate sustainable and progressive revenue now more than ever as work to recover from COVID-19. We cannot return to the austerity budgets of the Gregoire era. As Lt. Governor, I will be a loud and clear voice that austerity doesn’t work and new progressive revenue must be identified to continue critical state services as we recover.
Climate change poses an existential threat to our continued survival on this planet. I completely agree with Governor Inslee that climate inaction is the same as climate denial — we cannot shirk our responsibilities in this critical moment. I will use my leadership role in the Senate to insist on bold climate action that recognizes the magnitude of the crisis we face. This is a moment for our innovative Washington spirit to help lead the world and find solutions that can grow our economy, create jobs throughout our state, and address this pressing threat.
We must place a price on carbon emissions in order to create the market pressure required to reduce our investments. I support many possible mechanisms to achieve this, from a clean fuels standard to a cap and invest program to a carbon tax. Whichever pathway we select, we must ensure that there are strong worker protections, like those included in the Clean Energy Transformation Act in 2019.
As Lt. Governor, I will focus on identifying win-win opportunities to create jobs with just transitions in new industries like pumped hydro storage, creation of new clean hydrogen fuel manufacturing, and expansion of our use of sustainable mass timber products. The more we innovate, the better equipped we will be to reach our goals and create jobs in communities all over our state.
Like far too many, as someone who identifies as LGBTQ, I have personally felt the sting of discrimination – I know what it feels like to be marginalized. I also know that as a white man, I have had many opportunities that have been denied to others. That is why as a state lawmaker, I have used my privilege, as well as my experiences of discrimination, to focus on advancing social justice for every community that faces systemic barriers in our state. One of my proudest accomplishments was banning so-called conversion therapy. I am so grateful that our LGBTQ youth will never face that kind of treatment again. I know that all Washingtonians are united by our commitment to making this state a safe and welcoming place for everyone. And that is why we must all redouble our commitment to equity in all we do. As we expand education and opportunity, as we grow jobs and new industries, we must ensure that every Washingtonian has the chance to share in the success that lies ahead.
As Lt. Governor, I will work with the new state Office of Equity, with legislators and leaders of color, and with our state’s ethnic, women’s and LGBTQ commissions to place an equity and social justice lens on all the work we do in state government.
I unequivocally support a woman’s right to choose and access to comprehensive and affordable reproductive healthcare. I am thrilled to have consistently earned an A rating from NARAL/Pro-Choice WA and to have been part of landmark legislation in Washington to not only create reproductive parity laws, but expand reproductive health access to be inclusive to marginalized populations that get left behind, including immigrants regardless of documentation status, transgender, and gender non-conforming individuals. As we work for universal, single-payer healthcare, it must include reproductive health access for women.
Today, yesterday, and everyday: Black lives matter.
Our society is faced too often with the grave injustices being done to our Black and brown communities by those who are to function as the guardians of justice and law in our country. The fact that black and brown folks are being incarcerated at significantly higher rates than their white peers, often for similar crimes, is a continued scar on our nation and a holdover from centuries of systemic racial abuse and prejudice. The work ahead of us to curb this injustice is immense and we must take actionable steps to create a just system that works for everyone.
There are measurable steps we can and must take to end systems of abuse and ensure our justice system works for all. This cannot be done overnight, but here are places we can start and should put into action now:
- Demilitarize police – including prohibiting any Washington law enforcement agency from accepting or using surplus military equipment
- Put stronger limitations on the use of force – ban the use of chokeholds and require statewide reporting of police violence that is transparent and reported to the public, agency by agency.
- More accountability – require body cameras statewide, prohibit officers from covering their badge numbers while on duty, and require more transparency and oversight of police union contracts.
- Redirect funds from mass incarceration and excessive policing to community-based alternatives, ending the “3-strikes” policy and enact comprehensive sentencing overhaul that is evidence-based. From those reforms, we can use the savings for more funding for violence prevention, reconciliation, and more funding for critical human services that lift up people who are struggling, not putting them under more surveillance.