One of the primary responsibilities of the State is to provide K-12 education. Much has been done to fund our schools, but we need to ensure there is support staff and resources to effectively offer equitable education programs across the State.
Washington is blessed to have multiple water resource areas, abundant snowfall and rainfall. Respecting established surface and ground water rights of those who are putting water to beneficial use while addressing instream flows and environmental changes, will continue to be a challenge. As we deal with the growth in the District, it is important for us to keep water available for use in its original basin to accommodate demands on existing water allocations.
Washington State, especially the 12th District, is fortunate to benefit from the vision and commitment of those who capitalized on opportunities for hydroelectric power generation. Hydro continues to be our primary source of energy but solar and wind have begun to play a larger role in power production. The abundance of power has created economic opportunities by attracting development and keeping energy rates some of the lowest in the country. We need to recognize the significance of this renewable energy source and its contribution to the success of the State.
This is the level of government that delivers the most basic and essential public services and is most responsive to the people. The State has been reluctant to fully fund the services that have been required of local governments. I will continue to advocate for local control and respect for the authority of local governments.
We have access to the best health care system in the world in our state. The commitment of the health care providers is outstanding but some of the residents in the State and the 12th District are living in remote and difficult to access locations. Rural access hospitals and clinics provide primary care and emergency services for these people and the many visitors to our area. We must ensure these facilities are given support for the vital service they provide. The State has committed to fund Medicaid but has failed to budget for reimbursement at a level that will keep the providers solvent.
The production of food for the residents of the State and world is one of the key economic drivers of our District and State. The Ag economy is multi-faceted and provides employment, goods and services which benefit us all. We must acknowledge the commitment of those in these industries and encourage their future involvement. In addition to the obvious value of the food produced, our farmers, ranchers, timber managers and others working the landscape enhance our natural environment.
The 12th District has abundant natural resources. Fertile soil, mountainous landscapes, natural bodies of water, and many other natural features provide multiple benefits. Economic opportunities, recreation and environmental benefits all stem from the natural resources we have. Stewardship of these natural resources is critical. A healthy forest management plan results in an environment that produces positive results to all. Wildlife habitat, forest products industries, water storage, recreational opportunities and cleaner basic elements of air and water are just a few of the benefits.
The size and rate of growth of our Washington State government are major concerns. There are basic government services that should be delivered for public benefit. These services should be done well and funded in a manner that is sustainable before we create new programs and services.
Our budget has continued to rise as tax revenues have increased. We have been fortunate to have experienced a prosperous economy, but we have not been able to restrain our spending. Having a reserve is a higher priority than creating additional government obligations without a predictable revenue source.
Balancing individual property rights with public benefit considerations continues to be a source of controversy. We have been granted constitutional assurances which have been taken for granted and has led to an erosion of these rights in recent legislation.
The U.S. Constitution and the Washington State Constitution are very clear on the rights granted to its citizens relating to firearms possession. Although many safeguards have been put in place, the ultimate responsibility rests with the individual to be responsible for the use and possession of any firearm.
This is one of the core functions of government. Future funding will be a major focus for the legislature. The dependence on a fuel tax is less predictable as vehicles become more efficient and alternative fuels become more prevalent. Much of the State’s infrastructure is in a need of repair with aging bridges and roadways at design capacity. Construction costs continue to escalate and the demand for additional roads, bridges and ferry service add greater challenges. I do not support a road use tax and believe efficiencies can be achieved in streamlining regulations, prioritizing projects and being more systematic in replacement. Maintenance and preservation must be our top priority.
Economy/ Business Environment
Our government is dependent on a prosperous economy to fund itself by generating tax revenue. It is imperative that regulations not stifle business opportunities and are adopted in a manner that is beneficial to employers and employees alike. Businesses that are profitable are better positioned to provide a work environment that brings more fulfillment to its workforce.