Independent Leadership for Washington
We need to focus on basic government, not bigger government
or right-wing extremism
Our communities face real challenges
Schools are still dependent on local levies; meaning schools here in Bonney Lake, Auburn and Enumclaw have far fewer resources than schools in Bellevue, Seattle, and Mercer Island. Our school funding system is unstable and unfair
Crime rates are increasing while local police, prosecutors, jails and courts are underfunded and understaffed.
There are major gaps in our transportation system. Our state highways and bridges are in need of repairs, local transit service, including in Pierce County, is often underfunded, and if you live outside a city, you have watched the arterials you drive on erode with no plans to fix them.
What we really need are major reforms, but we can’t keep waiting. We need to solve problems now.
For decades, state leaders have talked about the need for major tax and governance reform. The problem is not a lack of revenue. State revenue has doubled in the past ten years. And yet basic services like schools, criminal justice, and transportation face funding shortfalls. And, our tax system is the most unfair in the nation. In Washington, the less you make, the more you pay in terms of the percentage of your income.
We do not need to raise taxes. What we need is a redesigned system of state and local government to provide stable funding for basic services, and a tax system that is fairer and more equitable. Achieving that would require an agreement among business and labor, liberals and conservatives, and all major state stakeholders. In other words, a grand bargain.
In the State Senate I will work to start that dialogue. But as I said, we have been waiting for comprehensive reform for decades. We need to do what we can to solve problems now.
Fixing Our School Funding System
Under our state constitution it is the paramount duty of the state to amply fund a uniform system of public education. Relying on local levies is unfair and unconstitutional. The state needs to more accurately define what constitutes a basic education -including school construction - and then pay for it, while concurrently reducing local levy authority. The state has made progress towards this goal, but more needs to be done.
Finding more money for education without raising taxes is the key. The first source is the general fund. We should fully commit to funding education first, and put every available dollar, over and above what is necessary to maintain current programs, into our schools.
Second, we need to lower local levies while raising the statewide education levy; the so called “levy swap.” This will provide more even and uniform education funding across the state. Some progress has been made in terms of a levy swap, but we can do more.
The schools in Sumner and Bonney Lake should be funded at the same level as the schools in Seattle and Bellevue. It's time to fund our schools without over-relying on local levies so that students here get the same level of resources as wealthier communities
Helping Counties Fight Crime
"Crime has risen everywhere, the state has chronically underfunded law enforcement and our state senator has done nothing. It's time for us to feel safe in our neighborhoods again." - Chris Vance
Most criminal justice costs are borne by county governments, which are heavily reliant on property taxes. No one wants to raise property taxes, but there is something the state can do to help counties pay for more police, prosecutors, jails and courts.
The US Supreme Court has ruled that states are responsible for paying for public defenders. The State of Washington, however, requires counties to pay those costs. If the state would meet its obligation to pay for public defense, it would cost the state less than 1% of its budget, but would free up over $300 million in county funds, which the state could then require counties use to augment their criminal justice budgets. We don’t need tougher laws against crime. What we need are more police, prosecutors, corrections officers and courts, and state funding for public defense will give counties more funding to keep us safe.
Building a Stable Transportation System
Our state transportation system is mostly funded by the gas tax. As people use less gas, transportation revenues have declined, forcing the state to pass a series of ad hoc funding packages. The most recent package will provide adequate funding for eight years. We need to use this time to design a stable system to fund infrastructure.
The answer is an infrastructure bank that can use private investment funds to augment tax revenue. This is a creative idea that is used in many parts of America, and the world. A Washington state infrastructure bank can help us finance state highways, county and city roads, and transit, with public/private partnerships rather than continuing to raise the gas tax.
Respecting The Will Of Voters On Choice
The Supreme Court has chosen to ignore its own precedents in order to overturn Roe v Wade and give state legislatures authority to make abortion laws. Every candidate running for the legislature now needs to make it crystal clear where they stand on this issue.
My position has never changed: the people of Washington State have twice voted to give women the right to choose. The people made our state’s current abortion laws. In the State Senate I will vote to defend, and, if necessary, strengthen, our state’s current pro-choice laws.
In contrast, my opponent, Sen. Phil Fortunato, has every year sponsored bills to limit abortion rights. The people of the 31st district will have a clear choice this fall on this crucial issue.
Supporting Responsible Gun Ownership
I am a gun owner. I also support the common sense gun laws we have passed recently in this state, including comprehensive background checks.
My opponent is an extremist on this issue. If he had his way, anyone could own a rifle that could be converted to a machine gun that can hold an unlimited number of bullets and would be able to carry it into a school board meeting.
We can and must honor the 2nd Amendment while supporting common sense gun safety laws.
Ensuring Fiscal Accountability
State revenues are growing. We don’t need to raise taxes. Instead, we need leaders who will work together and creatively solve problems.
I’ll never forget it’s your money. Every tax dollar needs to be spent wisely with transparency and accountability.