Island Forum | State Legislature 2009: Tough times call for bold action
February 11, 2009 · Updated 9:52 AM
Tough times call for bold action and a rethinking of “business as usual.” With the challenges we face, we cannot simply float by with more stop-gap measures or quick fixes. Just look around: our state and national economies are faltering, our schools are underfunded, our transportation networks are congested and our beautiful environment is at risk from pollutants.
Solving these problems requires a concerted, thoughtful effort among citizens, organizations and elected officials. As I promised before, for me it’s not about the party line, it’s about your bottom line — the things that touch our lives every day: schools, jobs, health care, transportation, public safety, housing availability. We should also lead in new areas of promise, such as our emerging “green” economy that will create jobs and promote sustainability.
In January, I began my work in Olympia to represent our great district and advocate for practical, common-sense policies that improve our quality of life now and lay the foundation for a strong future.
The major issue facing us is the tough budget situation. Like many other states and our nation as a whole, Washington has not been immune to the worldwide economic downturn. Projections show a significant shortfall over the two-year budget cycle that begins in July, meaning that we will need to make some difficult cuts in order to close the gap.
As we consider cuts, however, we must maintain our core values and our vision for where we want Washington headed in the future. Let’s put first things first: fulfilling our educational commitment to children, protecting the vulnerable and stimulating the economy. We must focus on the most essential of state government duties and services — something that is always important, but especially so now.
As we discuss the economy and budget in Olympia, our state’s education system will play a major part. As a two-term Renton School Board director, I know firsthand the issues facing our schools. Despite our budget woes, this is not an area to shortchange. We have an obligation, as the state constitution explicitly affirms: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children…”
I am excited to serve on the House Education Committee and will be a vocal proponent in Olympia for schools. Not only must they be funded adequately, but they also need to be equipped for 21st century skills in technology, career paths and global competition. We need to match our children’s vast potential with an equally strong commitment of support.
One of my first priorities is a comprehensive bill designed to change how we fund education and improve education programs, so we can address the achievement gap, ensure teacher quality and assure accountability. I intend to vigorously support the passage of this critical legislation for our children and our public schools.
It is an honor to join the distinguished 41st District team of Sen. Fred Jarrett and Rep. Judy Clibborn. I look forward to working with them on your behalf. But I also need your help as an active citizen in this process. Please reach out to me to voice your comments, questions or concerns. Together, we can chart a future that is bright, with opportunity for all.
Marcie Maxwell (D-Renton) represents the 41st Legislative District, including Mercer Island, in the Washington State House of Representatives. She is vice chair of the Community, Economic Development & Trade Committee, and also serves on the Education and Capital Budget Committees.