Dawn on the Issues
The recent McCleary decision by the Supreme Court made it clear that we are not meeting our Constitutional obligation to fully fund education. The spouse of a teacher, I hear about the challenges every day and share the concerns that I have heard throughout our community over the years.
I am passionate about making state budgets live up to our paramount duty to provide a good education for children. It is the key to our success as a state – and as a country. We need to continue our tradition of leading the world through innovation and need to provide great trade and technical schools so that students are prepared to enter our workforce.
Our class sizes are too large, post secondary options are getting too expensive and we aren’t getting teachers the resources they need to be successful. This is unacceptable and must change.
- I have fought to uphold the voter-approved initiatives to lower class sizes and increase teacher pay.
- I support proposals to fund early learning and all day kindergarten to make sure our children get an early boost in this vital period of development and that has been proven to save money long term within our educational system.
- I worked to expand college opportunities at Pierce College at Puyallup helping to secure funding for the college's new Arts and Allied Health building and expanded college and career-training opportunities at UW Tacoma.
Together we can make sure education is priority one.
Working for Affordable Health Coverage
A critical care nurse at our own Good Samaritan Hospital I see the impacts of our health care crisis every day. I believe that health care is not a partisan issue. Cancer doesn't care if you are a Republican or a Democrat or if you, or your company, can't buy affordable health insurance. Every day at work I see the unfairness of the health care system and know that each one of us is just a diagnosis away from disaster.
Locally, people are losing their homes, their futures and even their lives to diseases that strike them or their loved ones. No one deserves to carry the fear of, “What this may cost?” into their battle with a life-threatening illness. I come home motivated to make a change and right these injustices. In Olympia I was able to pass some bi-partisan proposals to help lower costs long-term. Some of these included:
- Authored Washington's new Small Business Health Insurance Partnership to help small businesses insure lower-wage employees.
- Helped craft a bi-partisan coalition to pass "Health Coverage For All Kids By 2010" that expanded health coverage for more than 30,000 children.
- Worked to pass the Prescription Drug Purchasing Consortium, where citizens, businesses and Washington governments can pool their buying power to get lower prices and stood up to drug manufacturers to support the right of Washingtonians to buy affordable prescription drugs from Canada.
Providing for Veterans and Military Families
The men and women of our armed forces and their families make incredible sacrifices every day. My husband Jim retired from the Air Force many years ago and we were fortunate to receive the support of our government so that we could successfully start our family.
Pierce County is proud to be home to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Madigan Army Medical Center, and Camp Murray National Guard post. These installations and the people they bring to Pierce County are vital to our local character and economy. This is why everyone in our area has a stake in the future of our veterans and military families and why we need to continue to support them as they return home from their service.
In Olympia I was honored to serve as Co-chair of the Legislature's Joint Select Committee on Veterans & Military Affairs and to receive the 2007 Legislator of the Year for Outstanding Service to Veterans. Through this post I was able to work on some key pieces of legislation to help Veterans and their families.
- The Veterans' Innovations Program to help provide emergency relief, education, training, and employment services for veterans of recent military action and the Defenders Fund to help provide a smooth transition home from service overseas.
- Expanded college tuition waivers for veterans and National Guard members
- Financial protections for National Guard members, a Veteran Down Payment Assistance Program to speed home ownership, and Civil protections for families of active-duty National Guard members.
- Granting property-tax relief for low-income widows and widowers of veterans.
We will continue to have many troops returning home as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and making sure they can successfully enter into civilian life will be instrumental to the success of our economy. Olympia needs to be proactive in their approach and I hope to continue to work on this important issue.
Budget Reform & Tax Relief
Consecutive years of state budget shortfalls have highlighted the need to make some fundamental reforms to our budgeting process. It is clear that we cannot continue to place a financial burden low and middle class families and that we need to take a tough look at every department to make sure they are accountable and efficient with taxpayer dollars.
While in the legislature I worked to pass bi-partisan proposals to increase budget efficiency and accountability, such as the Priorities of Government and zero-based budgeting strategies. We need to take a tough look at the numerous corporate tax loopholes to see if they are still warranted and sunset those that are no longer serving their purpose. No brainers like the tax break for out of state banks need to end. Our priority needs to be our local Main St. not Wall St.
In my time in the Legislature I worked with colleagues to:
- Reinstate Initiative I-747, the 1% cap on property taxes, after the courts ruled the measure unconstitutional.
- Expand property-tax deferrals to help more Washington families including the low-income senior-citizen property-tax exemption, property-tax relief for disabled veterans
- Boosted the "head of family" Personal Property Tax Exemption from $3,000 to $15,000 to better help small business.
I believe that we can work together and come to some common sense reforms to make our government more efficient and fair.
Helping out those who helped build our great community has always been a priority and I have fought to provide options for our seniors to stay in their homes and enjoy their retirement years. I have worked to provide property tax relief and long-term care options that help to keep all of our health care costs low.
As the chair of the Long Term care task force I worked with the Senior Citizens Lobby, AARP Washington, the State Council on Aging and Eldercare Alliance to implement much needed reforms to prevent disease and harmful injuries that lead to hospitalizations and subsequent nursing home admissions. I also worked to end the Nursing Home Bed Tax, which adds up to over $1,900 a year per bed and hurts many private-paying nursing home residents.
Keeping our Communities Safe
I will always fight to keep our communities safe and will be an advocate for protecting victims. After the brutal and cowardly murders of our four Lakewood police officers I helped pass a State Constitutional Amendment to allow judges to deny bail high-risk cases and passed a new law that ended other bail loopholes.
I have also worked with the Puyallup Police Department to write laws to crack down on metal theft and to restrict access to the "precursor drugs" used to cook meth. I will work to preserve local funding for police & fire and will make sure they have the tools they need to keep your communities safe.