The economic recession has been hard for too many of us. In spite of significant population growth in Washington State, we have been forced to cut over $10 billion in just three years. These cuts have impacted programs that support the neediest in our communities - from seniors, to children to the poor - at the very time when those programs are most needed. I believe we must ask ourselves: in what kind of state do we want to live?
Our expectations are high, but our revenues are low. The equation is simple: we can decrease our expectations or increase our revenues. But to make more cuts while demanding more of government is not realistic, and will not protect the Washington we love. As your senator, my focus has been to balance necessary cuts with the protection of our shared priorities. I believe we must make government more efficient, but we must also increase revenues, close tax loopholes and put people back to work.
I have focused on the priorities most relevant to the people of our district: creating jobs, protecting and advancing women's reproductive rights and equality, prioritizing K-12 and higher education, reforming taxes to aid small business and the middle class, and environmental protection and restoration.
With your support, I am looking forward to another term in the State Senate and the opportunity to work together to build a better future. While there are a number of issues that I care deeply about, I am prioritizing four that I hear about most from voters:
Continued economic recovery and job creation;
Fully supporting and funding education;
Protecting and advancing women's reproductive rights and equality;
Advancing environmental protection, restoration and creating green jobs.
To accelerate the state's recovery from the Great Recession we passed significant legislation to create new jobs, preserve existing jobs, spur the creation of new businesses and help workers in acquire training for high-demand fields. In the past two years, we have put more than 100,000 Washingtonians back to work, with nearly 1,000 in the 40th District, including critical environmental restoration jobs such as those right here in Bellingham. We must stay laser focused on positioning Washington's economy for robust economic growth.
A strong education system is the foundation of our future, and in order to remain competitive in a growing global marketplace we must remain committed to a strong public school system. Every dollar we invest in education pays enormous dividends down the road. It is crucial that we allow no further erosion of the education budgets and support an exception educational system in Washington State.
Next, we must protect and advance women's reproductive rights and equality. I am currently focused on advancement of the Reproductive Parity Act, which would require insurance in the state that covers maternity care to cover all reproductive choices. On a broader scale, I will continue to serve as a tireless advocate for women's reproductive rights, equality, family planning and the protection of the social safety net in the budget.
Lastly, I have spent my career working to protect what's best about our region: our air, water, forests, watersheds, farms and open space. During the last four years as your senator, I have championed key environmental legislation. We now have the strongest oils spills protection program in the country and are cleaning up dozens of toxic sites, making our communities safer and environment healthier, while building green jobs in restoration and an expanded renewable energy sector.
I have also led efforts in Olympia to demand the tough questions be asked, and answered, regarding any coal export proposals and have secured over $200,000 for Lake Whatcom clean up.
I am rooted in our region and committed to improving our quality of life, for your family and for mine. I am a husband and father; my son is in the U.S. Navy and my daughter lives in the same Orcas Island home that my grandmother lived while teaching elementary school. This region is my home, and I am passionate about protecting the Washington you and I both love.
With your support, I will continue focusing on these important issues and working to improve our quality of life.
Sen. Kevin Ranker is a candidate for the Washington State Senate, District 40. The primary election is Aug. 7, with the top two candidates moving on to the Nov. 6 general election. For more information go online to bellinghamherald.com/election-news. Our online Voter Guide allows you to see candidate responses side by side, prepare your own sample ballot and share your endorsements on social media.