Our schools, especially in Spokane, are successful in many ways but they can and should be better.
To improve educational success for all students, we must increase investments throughout the educational system including early learning, K-12, and higher education. As we make these investments, improved student success should be our overriding aim and closing the opportunity gap is the biggest challenge we face as we work toward that goal.
The data have shown that best way to close the opportunity gap and increase overall student performance is through high-quality early learning and preventing summer learning loss. Andy has been a leader in these areas as well as in other innovative and proven strategies to increase opportunity for all students.
As we work to invest more in education and to meet our constitutional duty to fully fund basic education, we must ensure that those investments do not come at the expense of cuts to vital social service programs. If we cut housing, food or health care assistance for children to pay for education, we will actually be undermining educational success. Instead, we must focus on the whole child by employing strategies that will be successful in the classroom and ensure that every child arrives at school ready to learn.
Another K-12 challenge that is directly related to student success and deserves attention is teacher recruitment and retention. We have a teacher shortage, which will only grow worse if we do not take further action. Andy has been a leader in this area and will continue to work to make sure that we have the best possible educator for every student.
In higher education, Andy was a strong supporter of cutting tuition but that is only part of the solution. We must continue to invest in State Need Grants and ensure that our state universities and community colleges have the resources necessary to meet the needs for our modern society and economy, particularly for STEM careers.
In our community and throughout the state, we need good, living-wage jobs that allow people to work with dignity and support their families. Andy will continue to support programs and policies that provide opportunities for start-ups and small businesses to thrive. We must leverage Spokane's great quality of life to recruit new companies and keep the talented young people graduating from our excellent two and four year institutions in our community.
There are proven economic development opportunities happening in the City, particularly with the health care sector in the University District, manufacturing in Hillyard and aerospace and aviation focused industry around Spokane International Airport. Andy will continue to work with local and state partners to ensure our entrepreneurs have the support they need and workers have the opportunity for fulfilling jobs.
Protecting our environment
The Spokane-Rathdrum aquifer is the single source of drinking water for over 500,000 people - including everyone in the 3rd Legislative District. We need to focus on preserving this indispensible and unique resource so it is safe and plentiful now and for future generations.
Andy will continue to sponsor and support legislation that removes and prevents pollution in our environment and addresses the causes and impacts of our changing climate.
As tax revenue continues to decline relative to population and the demand for citizen services continue to rise, the long-term sustainability of the state operating budget remains a pressing concern.
Andy believes there are three pieces of the budget solution puzzle:
1) Continue to improve efficiency in state government, but we also must realize that many of these efficiency measures, particularly those employing new technology, may require an additional investment in the short-term so we can benefit in the long-term.
2) Reform our tax system so it is more fair and produces revenue adequate to fund the state’s core responsibilities.
3) Grow our state and local economy, which will improve the lives of our citizens, reduce demand for services, and increase tax revenue to the state.eurs have the support they need and workers have the opportunity for fulfilling jobs.
Healthcare and Seniors
We need a health care system that is effective, affordable, and accessible.
A focus on wellness has to be at the center of any successful health care system. Our country's obesity epidemic is a direct result of inactivity and poor nutrition. Improved school nutrition and a transportation system that accommodates walking and biking are two key elements to making our community healthier and, as a result, lowering health care costs for all of us.
Spokane is ready to play a pivotal role in developing a well-trained workforce to meet the growing local demand for health care services.
Andy will continue to support programs and projects that improve accessibility, lower costs, and help train a 21st century health care workforce dedicated to improving outcomes.
When it comes to woman’s reproductive health rights, we must be steadfast in defense of the progress that has been made. Andy will continue to be a leader in advocating for the right of women to be able to make their own decisions about their bodies.
Andy will also continue to promote policies and programs that help seniors age in place. By keeping seniors living safely and comfortably in their current homes, we increase their quality of life and save money for both the seniors and the state.
The future success of our regional economy requires us to focus on improving the quality and efficiency of our local and regional transportation system. We must continue our focus on complete streets that allow for safe and efficient use by motor vehicles, mass transit, bikes and pedestrians.
Andy will continue to advocate for transportation projects that value all modes and serve the dual purpose of creating short-term construction jobs.
Andy will continue to work on legislation that supports the implementation of Smart Justice programs in Spokane and around the state.
Property crimes remain a concern in Spokane and Andy is committed to focusing on budgetary as well as policy steps that will help address this pressing problem for our community.
Another area of concern are Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs), which are burdening low-income folks, with unfairly high interest rates on fines and restitution that sometimes make it impossible for an offender to ever catch up. Andy believes the criminal justice system should help those previously incarcerated to re-enter society in a way that gives them the best chance to become successful, productive members of the community.
Andy has fought for funding to support the Spokane Family Justice Center, a domestic violence prevention collaborative made up of police, prosecutors and domestic violence prevention advocates. The Family Justice Center is located at the YWCA in Downtown Spokane. Andy will continue to advocate for domestic violence victims and work to ensure the Family Justice Center has the resources necessary to continue its effective work.
Campaign Finance & Voter Access
Andy is the legislative leader on campaign finance reform and will continue to propose and fight for legislation that will make our elections more fair and transparent. In addition, Andy has been active on voter access initiatives, including voter pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds, same-day voter registration, and automatic voter registration. Andy will continue to work on these issues as long as he is in the Legislature.
Andy welcomes your feedback on the topics listed above or any other issue. You can reach him by at firstname.lastname@example.org
To view Andy's remarks from his 2010 Campaign Kick-Off Event on November 12, 2009, please click on this link.