The economic crisis has hurt thousands of families in Clark County and throughout Washington state. While many large companies have found their way out of the financial mess, many families and small businesses are still hurting. We must work together now to do all that we can to help businesses create jobs and build a prosperous future here in our community.
Investments in education at every level – from kindergarten to community colleges and universities – help grow our economy, providing workers the new skills they need to make our area a magnet for new businesses and top-paying jobs.
The Rivers Business Plan:
Provide business with undeniable reasons to want to come here to set up shop or expand current operations. That way, we can put people back to work and get our economy moving again.
Address the rules and regulations that strangle the business atmosphere of this state when we need that grip to loosen the most. Require the legislature to approve regulatory changes proposed by our state agencies.
Take action to speed up the process. I fully recognize the need for both safety and environmental concerns to be addressed as part of the process; but charging absurd amounts of money for parking permits that take months to provide is not conducive or cost efficient to business. It costs us jobs and time… and time? That’s money.
Of course, we cannot forget that “A deal is a deal” and therefore, keeping an eye on those we extend a deal to make sure they hold up their end of the bargain is key to the success of this plan. It is essential that if jobs are promised, they must be delivered.
Education is the paramount duty of state government. Every problem we face from crime, the economy, jobs, healthcare, even the environment, can be improved by a properly funded and professional public education system.
This is very personal issue to me having been a public school teacher (middle school math and science & substitute teacher). I attended public school and participated on many levels in the public school system from grant writing to volunteer “science mom”. There are incredible success stories coming out of our public schools each and every day; we have much to be proud of. We must not rest on our laurels – we must continue to be open to new ideas and willing to embrace reform to meet the needs of our changing world.
After decades of pillaging our education budgets to pay for non-essential government services, the state is turning the corner but the future is still uncertain. I helped lead the successful charge for an additional $2.6 billion in school funding in the most recent budget efforts all while reducing tuition at our community colleges and universities for the first time in the history of the United States. All of this without raising taxes. I serve on the Governor’s Task Force to address the comprehensive solution to meet the paramount duty of our state and remain fully committed to building on the work we have completed so far.
Some in Olympia would like to leverage funding for schools with new taxes. But holding back on funding education unless there are massive tax increases is not only bad for education, it’s unconstitutional. Kids deserve our first dollar, not budgetary leftovers.
The most important thing for an elected leader to do is set clear priorities. When I took office in 2010, the state faced a $2.6 billion deficit. Year-after-year legislators would return to Olympia in special sessions to address budgets that were out of balance. More often than not, they would slash higher education and K-12 to make up the difference.
We changed all that. After forcing passage of a first-of-its-kind reform, the four year balanced budget, we have been able to wrangle deficits into surpluses, and turn education cuts into cuts in tuition. Now, the impacts of each budget decision must be viewed over a four-year period of time. This all but eliminated the frequent gimmicks and felony accounting practices that have been responsible for so many deficits over time. As a result, the share of the budget that goes towards education has grown from 42% in 2010, to almost 47% in 2016.
In 2012, I helped push for passage of the four-year balanced budget statute. This law, now in effect, requires our state’s budget to be balanced over four years. In the past, budgets had been adopted that pushed liabilities out into future biennia, or adopted legislation and failed to pay for it. This led to the never-ending cycle of budget deficits. The four-year balanced budget prevents the use of these gimmicks by keeping state spending under control and its budgets balanced.
Feeling safe in your home and in your community is key to the great quality of life that we enjoy in our communities. By working with law enforcements, we have been able to address the Department of Corrections early release of criminals by giving law enforcement officers the ability to work with community corrections officers.
Following the Legislature’s progress on DUI-related legislation in 2013, I was pleased to support two proposals ahead of the 2014 session.
The first measure added to the types of prior DUI offenses that can be considered during sentencing, providing a more comprehensive look at the offender’s criminal past. It also requires repeat offenders to appear before a judge prior to their release from jail after an arrest. The second successful piece of legislation increased the required time served for those who circumvent ignition interlock devices or operate a vehicle without one. Both allow prosecutors to seek more appropriate sentences given the offender’s previous actions and disregard for public safety.
Many lives are needlessly lost each year to DUI. These measures are just another important step towards addressing this crime.
Unfortunately, Washington is still one of the only states in the United States where an offender needs five DUI convictions within 10 years before they are charged with a felony – though we’ve passed this legislation out of the senate each of the past three years, the bill dies in the House. This must change so I will not be deterred from making this and other incremental changes until we get where we need to be.
Our transportation system is the backbone of our economy and plays a critical role in our quality of life. Anyone who must travel our freeways to get to work knows that we have significant concerns that must be addressed.
Projects must be prioritized so that those that reduce congestion, increase freight mobility, increase safety, and support economic development are moved forward first.
Voters want assurances that major projects will not become “Christmas Tree Projects”, that pontoons will not sink; that Bertha can drill, and that we can hold government accountable for their actions. This knowledge guides my actions when it comes to transportation in Olympia.