Maralyn on the Issues

 

SOLVING INCOME & PROPERTY TAX INEQUALITY

A successful society is one that works for all. No one who works 40-hours a week should live in poverty. We must tackle wealth and income inequality as the gap between the very rich and everyone else is now wider than at any time since the 1920s.

Washington State's tax system is the most regressive in the entire United States. Low-income people pay almost 20% of their income in taxes while wealthy people pay about 2%.

High property taxes are pricing people out and pushing people out of their homes and communities. B&O taxes drain local and small businesses of growth potential. There are currently $50.3 billion in tax exemptions at the state level and $55.5 billion at the local level. Therefore our state’s total tax exemptions are $105.9 billion.

Taxes could be restructured on homes such that they would only increase at a certain rate while the owner occupies the home. Then the property tax could be reset when the house is sold to reflect the appreciated value.

We should forbid taxing utilities such as water, sewer and lights, which are infrastructure that everyone needs and are necessary for survival. Currently there is no cap on what municipalities can charge for water and sewer utility taxes.

Intangible property, meaning stocks and bonds, should be included in the tax base as intended by the Washington State Constitution. This would not directly reduce taxes but rather increase the size of the tax base. When tax funds are needed in order to fund the budgets of various elected bodies that amount would then be spread over a larger base. This would result in lower taxes for some and a new tax on those who previously were exempted from paying taxes on stocks and bonds. Retirement funds would be excluded.

The solution is fair taxes for all.  

CONTINUE TO STRENGTHEN PUBLIC EDUCATION

High quality public education is critical to the well being of Washington students as a key component of equity and vital for our shared future. It is crucial to keep class sizes small, use standardized testing sparingly and to support the teaching of critical thinking skills. Public education is a cornerstone of democracy, and this is why I have been a staunch supporter of keeping public schools public and preventing for-profit charter schools from diverting public school funds to charter schools. In 2004, I provided leadership to help overturn a charter school bill passed by the legislature. There was a referendum process and the voters turned down charters with 57% of the vote.  

In 2017 I organized a bipartisan hearing on Common Core standards to ask the difficult questions about a costly and undemocratically imposed initiative on K-12 education.

I continue to expose powerful organizations that stealthily support for-profit charter schools, such as Stand for Children which funds pro-charter candidates like my opponent. In Illinois, Stand for Children pushed hard to pass a measure restricting collective bargaining rights for teachers' unions. Look at what they do, not at what they say.

Stand for Children has targeted teachers and developed some of the most sophisticated union-busting campaigns in the country. It aims to diminish the role of accredited teachers in curriculum and reduce their job security. It promotes expensive and burdensome standardized testing and promotes putting students in front of computers instead of a rich classroom experience.

I'm sorry to tell you that the 2018 legislature has not, in truth, fully funded McCleary. Projections show that within two to four years, schools in my district will be operating with significant deficits. Also, the legislature did not fund special education, which has contributed to district shortfalls. Some schools were allocated funds for teachers’ raises but some school administrators diverted those funds to other uses. In order to fully fund schools in the long term, we need to reduce property tax exemptions for the wealthy which shifts the tax burden to middle and low income homeowners. While wealthy Washingtonians pay 2% in taxes on their income and enjoy generous tax exemptions, the lower and middle-income homeowners pay almost 20% of their income in taxes.

It makes sense to invest in the best-educated workforce in the world. All qualified college students should be able to go to college and graduate without decades of burdensome debt. The Washington State public has built and funded public colleges for decades. I think that for students who are residents of Washington State, tuition should be free at colleges in their service areas, meaning their states or cities. We can pay for this by taxing stocks and bonds and closing tax exemptions for the wealthiest Washingtonians.

I am honored to have earned the sole endorsement of the Washington Education Association (WEA).

Senator Chase’s Statement on Supreme Court Decision on Charter Schools (10/30/18)

I want to respond to the Washington State Supreme Court decision on charter schools made last Thursday (10/25/18).

I disagree with the Court’s slim majority decision to allow charter schools to continue to receive funding from the state lottery. As a state we have battled for years to meet our constitutional mandated paramount duty to amply fund our public schools. This court decision in favor of charter schools will make that responsibility that much harder to achieve.

I concur with the statement from the League of Women Voters of Washington:

The League of Women Voters of WA is disappointed in the state Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Washington’s charter school law. We agree with Justice Madsen who wrote in her dissent, charter schools "lack any direct accountability to the communities they purport to serve and are exempt from many of the requirements of our state public school system.

The League of Women Voters has always worked to promote the values and processes of representative government and believes in an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive – one that assures opportunities for citizen participation in government decision-making. Because private boards selected by non-profit corporations rather than publicly elected by citizens will govern charter schools, voters lose their right to elect representatives to oversee the spending of public money.

Furthermore, allowing privately charter schools to tap public money will drain resources from public schools. This has already happened in other cities where charter schools operate, such as Chicago, and Los Angeles. Many of the same people who push to privatize schools by promoting and funding charter schools are also working to defund our existing public schools, drain their resources, and reduce the ability of public schools to meet the needs of all children.

It’s important to remember that our existing public schools serve the vast majority of students in Washington State. This includes multiple alternative programs, English Language Learners, Gifted programs, Advanced Placements courses, Vocational Learning, Special Education.

I applaud the court determination in favor of collective bargaining and teachers' unions. I will continue to support the rights of teachers to collective bargaining. I will work to ensure that there is no creep of funding charter schools by pretending to use other accounts for education, health and human services.

This Supreme Court decision ultimately undermines the public, democratic values and the best interest of our children.

UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE

Single payer healthcare has always been one of my top legislative priorities. In 2018, I co-sponsored Senator Frockt’s bill, 'Washington Applecare Trust,’ S.B. 5701. I also co-sponsored the bill that preceded it, by then Senator Jeannie Kohl-Wells. I supported single-payer bills when I served in the House, as well.

In the 2018 session I introduced a bill, 'Healthy Washington,' which is based on the California healthcare bill that passed in their State Senate. Healthcare activists on the West Coast are working to get Washington, Oregon and California to come together to create a tri-state system. We have to move away from a for-profit healthcare model, which disregards the most vulnerable and diverts healthcare funds to private insurance companies. Single payer healthcare would provide better health outcomes at a lower cost, including comprehensive prenatal, maternal and well baby checks. A single payer system would be better equipped than a private system to meet the public health challenges of treating mental illness and substance abuse. Everybody in, nobody out.

For years, I have fought for reproductive rights and women’s rights. In the 2018 session we passed the Reproductive Parity Act, which requires that employer's insurance cover women's reproductive healthcare, including contraception and abortion, and allows women to make their own choices about reproductive health.

REVERSING THE OPIOD CRISIS

Opioids are now the leading cause of accidental deaths in Washington State. Snohomish is one of the counties hit hardest and it grows worse. However, Snohomish County's program of providing Naloxone to first responders is effectively preventing overdose deaths.

Our families and communities continue to be devastated by the consequences of addiction and preventable opioid deaths. It is crucial that city, county, and state agencies coordinate and recognize the opioid crisis as a health problem and treat it as a medical condition rather than a crime.

In 2018, I co-sponsored a bill to addressing this crisis. The Supplemental Budget passed by the 2018 Legislature funds treatment programs, distribution of Naloxone, development of an overdose monitoring system, and increased treatment programs.

I applaud Snohomish County's excellent Opioid Project, the City of Everett's lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, and the City of Seattle and King County's effort to provide a safe injection sites.


PROGRESS FOR WOMEN

I should remind you that, until recently, women had many barriers to employment and business opportunities that fundamentally put them under the jurisdiction of men. When I was first married, I was turned down for employment at a bank because “you will probably get pregnant and leave the job.” There were separate ads in the newspapers, “Employment for Men” and “Employment for Women.” When I was a young widow, I started my own business in the construction trades. Since I had no man to co-sign on my business license or bond, my brother had to co-sign for me because women were not considered “financially responsible.” I was considered sufficiently responsible to raise a child by myself but not to operate a business.  

I was one of the first Women and Minority Business Enterprises (WMBE) certified businesses, which made it possible to participate in government contracting and in the bank loan programs. I was the first woman business owner in this state to get a loan on my own, and African American business owners were also able to do the same. These loans were instrumental to my being able to invest in equipment to build my business, to train women for good paying jobs in the trades, and to offer opportunities and training for advancement. This also meant that I could then support my young family.

In the 2018 legislative session, I was approached to write a bill to reinstate affirmative action in Washington State. Many people don’t remember that we lost affirmative action in 1998. Women and especially women of color were heavily impacted. I am prepared to re-introduce the bill in the 2019 session. We can't go back to those bad old days!

In the 2018 session my colleagues and I passed the revision to the 1943 Equal Pay Act, which requires employers to provide equal pay and career opportunities to their employees regardless of gender. It took 75 years to pass an improvement in equal pay for women and we are not done yet?

I've done a lot of work on human trafficking. In 2001, I attended the first anti-trafficking event in Washington State in response to the killing of mail order brides. This event was organized by my future legislative colleagues: Jeanne Kohl Wells, Phyllis Gutierrez Kenny and Velma Veloria.

In 2015, I hosted a bi-partisan panel on Human Trafficking to highlight the need for continued engagement and problem solving, particularly involving minors. We learned that most women are lured into trafficking between the ages of 12-14, often times at the bus stop where they are tired and hungry and vulnerable. Our communities are teeming with human trafficking and it occurs at an alarming rate. There were three first person accounts from trafficking survivors which absolutely affirmed my resolve to find a way to curtail trafficking.

I now serve on the State Anti-Trafficking Task Force and expect to collaborate on legislation in 2019 session.

Initiative 1433 to increase the minimum wage was approved by the voters of Washington State in 2016. It also requires employers to provide sick leave to most of their employees and protects employees from retaliation when exercising their rights. This made Washington State the fifth state to offer paid family and medical leave. I was so proud of the efforts of my constituents, in the 32nd Legislative District, who collected signatures and so proud to be able to represent their demand to pass this initiative into law.

It’s time for sexual harassment in the workplace to end. Professional women, women in service jobs and technology, domestic workers and agricultural workers endure harassment and assault, and their claims are often overlooked. I support Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s work to support the hitherto neglected claims by women working in Eastern Washington’s agricultural industry. Following the momentum of legislation made possible by a Democratic majority, I am looking forward to legislation that supports the rights of all women to work unencumbered by sexual or gender-based harassment and violence.

We need to prioritize funding to analyze the backlog of more than 6,000 untested rape kits reported by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, which he reports are "sitting in the evidence rooms of local law enforcement agencies." Ferguson continues, “Each sexual assault kit tells a story from a survivor that must be heard.” I am committed to funding the office of our Attorney General so that analysis of these rape kits can be finalize.



ECONOMIC GROWTH & PROSPERITY

Our state needs a well-developed growth strategy in which businesses can compete in both domestic and international markets while at the same time increasing the standard of living of the great majority of citizens. In our state, 86% of businesses have fewer than four employees, while 13% of businesses have 5 to 250 employees. A small number of global corporations have many thousands of employees, such as Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.

Two-thirds of all business research and development in the U.S. comes from the largest companies, those with more than 25,000 employees. Washington State attracts $15.3 billion in R and D, making it second only to California in this sector, which engages $85.7 Billion in R and D. So, we can see that Washington is competitive in this sector.

Middle market businesses frequently represent the supply chains of larger companies and can most nimbly adapt to new technology. This middle market segment of our economy should be targeted for state resources for economic growth, education, infrastructure, social safety net and tax reform. It deserves government support because they are ready and sufficiently grounded to grow and adapt quickly to global market and technology changes. This middle sector will continue to create jobs as technology rapidly changes the workplace and can help shape a more humane future in which these new developments can serve everyone.

We must not be deceived by claims of only 3.9% unemployment in our state. In reality, the only people who are counted in that claim are those who are active in the workforce. But, the labor force, those who are between the ages of 25 and 55 and not institutionalized, has declined from about 85% participation to around 62.3 percent. Labor economists are not able to identify to where these workers have gone or provide reliable statistics.

We have to acknowledge that many new jobs in our state are contract work rather than full employment with benefits. I believe that we have to move toward an understanding that there will be changes to employment availability as well as a changing technology that will demand new skills and also reduce the quality of work available. Our goals should include policies that allow democratic participation in economies of the future and also continue to provide a social safety net for those who may find themselves without regular full time employment.

Another issue we must acknowledge is that the global economy operates on the Internet but vast areas of our state do not have fiber or Internet service. Without access, these areas are excluded from participation in the global economy. I am proud to work closely the Washington State tribes, and rural populations, to include all areas of the state in our broadband outreach program.

Washington State currently pays over $4 billion of our operating budget annually to service principal and interest on our Wall Street debt. Instead we should harness our own revenue stream by establishing a public infrastructure bank to invest in infrastructure and economic development and keep our tax dollars working for the people of our state. In this way we can be more independent from Wall Street, borrow from ourselves at reasonable interest rates and return the profit back to ourselves. In Senator Hasegawa's words, "a bank that makes money for the people of the state." This bank would be governed by an independent public commission and would be both accountable and transparent to the public. In the 2018 legislative session a budget proviso allocated funds to hire banking consultants to recommend a plan for the creation of our state's public infrastructure bank.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND EQUITY

In the past, women and minority owned businesses were not allowed to participate in government contracting and in state bank loan programs. This meant that these groups could not take out loans to grow their businesses and could not apply for government contracting work. In the early 1980’s affirmative action legislation established the “Women and Minority Business Enterprises (WMBE)” to certify businesses, which enabled them to participate in government contracting and in the bank loan programs.

Prior to the passage of I-200 by the voters in 1998, the state had made progress towards equality. I-200 stopped all that progress and businesses owned by people of color and women lost over $3 billion in revenue.

A 2018 Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) study, presented in the Transportation Committee, clearly demonstrated discrimination against African Americans in our state as well as a changing sentiment in the general public in favor of fairness and inclusion. This indicates that now is the time for us to encourage progress in reducing discrimination by re-establishing Affirmative Action in our state.

In 2018, I worked with Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos to introduce the first bill in the Senate to reinstate affirmative action. This bill, SB 6406, repeals the 20-year old voter initiative meant to outlaw quotas on race, creed, color or national origin. While I-200 was suppose to level the playing field for college admissions and state employment, it ended up having the opposite effect. The bill did not pass in 2018 and citizens are now collecting signatures for I-1000. I am prepared to introduce another bill for Affirmative Action in 2019.


My bill did not pass in 2018 and citizens are now collecting signatures for I-1000. I am prepared to introduce another bill for Affirmative Action in 2019.

Also, in the 2018 legislative session, my colleagues and I passed the revision to the 1943 Equal Pay Act, which requires employers to provide equal pay and career opportunities to their employees regardless of gender. It took 75 years to pass an improvement in equal pay for women and we are not done yet.

However, equality is not just represented by dollars. Communities of color deserve accountability for police involved shootings and equal justice in the courts. I-940 has been a long time coming and is essential legislation for the rights and well being of communities of color.

ENERGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

Our recent experiences with the negative health impacts and loss of habitat from raging wildfires, the devastation of our shellfish industry due to ocean acidification, and the collapse of salmon runs, demands that we face facts, apply science, and follow through with immediate action.

Since the president abandoned the Paris Climate accords our state needs to lead by supporting carbon free solar and non-fossil fuel energy development. We must act now to support sustainable development to protect agriculture, natural resources, local marine industries and biodiversity. Future generations deserve our commitment to protecting their wellbeing and aspirations. This is the urgent threat and defining challenge of our time.

The plight of the salmon and the starving orcas touch all of our hearts. Puget Soundkeepers Alliance reports that the declining populations of Chinook and Coho are the major issue impacting the survival of our endangered orcas. Pollution issues plague the entire Puget Sound watershed and storm water runoff is one of the worst sources of toxic contamination to our local waterways. Their findings show that over 90% of returning fish die before they can spawn.

In order to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and preserve precious life in the Puget Sound these are some of the environmental initiatives I support:

• a commitment to lowering carbon pollution as outlined in the Paris Accords

• support for state measures to reduce carbon pollution, such as Initiative-1631 that could save lives and improve health

• investments in sustainable infrastructure, including public transit and green building technology

• development of clean energy technology, education and job training

• preservation and restoration of forests, including the urban canopy

• reduce toxic storm drain runoff into the Puget Sound

• preserve existing farmlands for the future, support family farmers by offering low interest loans, reduce pesticides, herbicides, prevent runoff, protect pollinators, label genetically modified food

• protect environmental whistle-blowers

• protect native forests and support public initiatives to plant trees, restore waterways, and support environmental youth jobs

In 2015, I was co-chair of the I-522 campaign to label genetically modified foods. The initiative did not pass but by a narrow margin. However, it contributed to the growing awareness of the dangers of genetically modified organisms to people, the environment and pollinators. I think people should know that my opponent has taken money from the agro-chemical conglomerate Monsanto, an act that does not demonstrate that he is a friend of the environment. In 2015, the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides Awarded me the Rachel Carson Award for my work in reducing cancer- causing pesticides such as Roundup in our food chain. 

I am proud to also have the sole endorsement of the Sierra Club, Washington Conservation Voters and the Environment & Climate Caucus of the Washington State Democratic Party.


STATE BANK: KEEPING OUR TAX DOLLARS WORKING IN OUR STATE

Washington State currently pays over $1 billion of our operating budget annually to service Wall Street debt. Instead, we should harness our own revenue stream by establishing a public infrastructure bank to invest in infrastructure and economic development, and keep our tax dollars working for the people of our state. In this way we can be more independent from Wall Street, borrow from ourselves at reasonable interest rates and return the profit back to ourselves.

A state bank can put our tax dollars to work for the people of our state to provide crucial funds for infrastructure, student loans, and building schools and roads with no or low interest charges. Also, student loans could be renegotiated. A state bank could offer funding for schools and roads at near zero percent interest instead of paying 4-5% interest to Wall Street banks. A state bank could drastically lower local property taxes and create thousands of good paying jobs.

In Senator Hasegawa's words, "a bank that makes money for the people of the state." This bank would be governed by an independent public commission and would be both accountable and transparent to the public. In the 2018 legislative session a budget proviso allocated funds to hire professional banking consultants to recommend a plan for the creation of our state's public infrastructure bank.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

We need more affordable and equitable housing in Washington to meet the current housing crisis.

The first thing is to keep people who are housed in their homes. We can’t keep pushing people out of their homes with higher taxes and up-zones. Higher taxes make it harder for young families and seniors to stay in their homes.  

Rents have gotten so high in our region that a person making minimum wage needs two jobs to pay rent. That’s why I support raising the minimum wage, living wage jobs, and jobs training. We can boost support for the small and medium sized businesses that create so many jobs in our region.

Housing first. Unsheltered people need to get into housing before they can address other problems like unemployment, chronic illness, school truancy, trauma and substance abuse. In a housing crisis, incremental steps can save lives. Help people on the streets get into shelter, then into low-income housing, then regular housing when people’s lives are stabilized.

I am proud that in the 2018 session my colleagues and I increased funding for affordable housing and assistance for homelessness. This provided $107 million for the Housing Trust Fund in the Biennial Capitol Budget. The Housing Trust preserves and builds affordable housing for those at the lowest income levels. This includes youth and young adults, special needs, homeless families and children, seniors, and veterans. The Housing Trust Fund will create about 3,500 affordable homes.

My colleagues and I also passed 7 bills that increased funding for building and preserving affordable homes, increased housing stability for low-income people and removed barriers to finding and keeping a home. All of these prevent homelessness. The legislature needs to invest much more in these funds.

I'm proud to join my legislative colleagues to provide state funding for low-income housing projects such as the one Ronald Methodist Church and Compass Housing Alliance built on property donated by the church in Shoreline. I want to see more state support for community-organized solutions to housing which are conceived of and completed through the cooperation of resourceful people, churches, communities and governmental agencies.

My colleagues and I will fight to maintain state funding through it's various housing agencies, including through Veterans' Services. These funds are essential for projects like Compass Housing Alliance’s, which has built 20 low-income housing projects across our state.

I will continue to be an unwavering voice for affordable housing, minimum wage and fair taxes for working families.

COMMON SENSE GUN LEGISLATION

Gun violence is a heartbreaking epidemic in Washington State and our country. We have fallen down on our responsibility to keep people and especially our children safe.

In the 2018 legislative session we have taken steps, such as banning bump stocks, but we can and must do more. I support raising the age to purchase a semi-automatic assault rifle to 21 and requiring that people go through expanded background checks already required for handgun buyers. Gun operation licenses should require renewals just like drivers licenses. People with criminal backgrounds and those who have been involved in domestic abuse should not receive gun operation licenses.

We need Congress to renew the assault weapons ban, end the sale of high capacity magazines, and make gun trafficking a federal crime. Types of guns exclusively used to kill people, not for hunting, should not be sold in the U.S.

I commend the Edmonds City Council who boldly passed ordinances requiring lock boxes for firearms and dealing with lost and stolen firearms. This is especially important because suicides make up 75% of firearm deaths in Washington State.

I support Initiative 1639, “Safe Schools, Safe Communities.”

I'm proud to have the sole endorsement of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.


FIXING TRANSPORTATION

With Washington State's burgeoning population we need long-term funding and planning to keep people and the economy moving. Though I support rail transit, it’s obvious that Sound Transit 3 will not get people moving in the near term.

Sound Transit 3 admits that their plan will not solve our I-5 congestion problem. According to Sound Transit 3’s own estimates, there will be only a 4.5% increase of riders choosing Sound Transit 3 instead of buses.

My constituents need to get moving now and simply cannot wait years for transit.

The sensible solution would be to call for an immediate increase of bus based rapid transit, coupled with north/south and east/west lines, including bus only lanes, and added connector vans.  Bus lines are flexible and can rapidly respond to demands for new destinations. Make transit go door to door fast, without lengthy transfers, and more people will be glad to get out of their cars.


METROPOLITAN AND RURAL BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE

The global economy operates on the Internet but vast areas of our state do not have fiber or Internet service. Access to high speed broadband is as crucial to communities as roads and bridges. Without it, communities are not able to participate in the global economy, run online businesses, take classes available on the Internet, or apply online for jobs. I support expanded government support for broadband infrastructure and am proud to work closely with Washington State tribes, and rural populations, to include all areas of the state in our broadband outreach program.


CITIZENS' RIGHTS

My record is deep on the defense of civil rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Given the current erosion of citizens’ rights and our public safety net, we depend on our state to defend its citizens, economy and environment. I am committed to single-payer healthcare, quality public education and affordable housing as human rights. Washington State provides leadership by asserting its authority to protect our precious resources, immigration rights, net neutrality, free speech, and amendment rights.

Kudos go to State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and other state AG’s, for leadership on net neutrality and the related legal challenge to the FCC’s decision to diminish net neutrality. Also, for AG Ferguson's and Governor Inslee’s legal challenge to the Trump administration's prohibition on travelers from seven Middle Eastern countries.  

WASHINGTON PRIVACY LEGISLATION

The Seattle Times and my opponents have singled me out for attacks based on my vote to support increased public disclosure. The claim that I am against public disclosure is patently false and is not borne out in my record. I serve with Attorney General Bob Ferguson on The Sunshine Committee to analyze legislation pertaining to public disclosure. Understand that almost every member of the legislature voted for the bill because it clarified broad areas of governmental documents that are open to disclosure but not previously articulated.

It is my opinion that almost everything should be subject to public disclosure — except certain private information of individuals who contact their legislators for help regarding: domestic abuse, workplace disputes and identifying information from whistleblowers.

I am pleased that the Governor vetoed the bill. It is now in the hands of the task force on disclosure. The public deserves ample time to be fully informed and to provide to comments on this legislation.