You deserve nothing less than Nordstrom-style customer service and accessibility from government and your elected officials. I've been working hard on many of the key issues facing South King County, but I want to hear how I can better serve you!
For a more complete list of Joe's priorities and his work in the Washington State Legislature, click the "issue" link below.
The economic crisis has hurt thousands of families in South King County and throughout Washington state. While many large companies have found their way out of the financial mess, many families and small businesses are still hurting. We must work together now to do all that we can to help businesses create jobs and build a prosperous future here in our community.
Investments in education at every level – from kindergarten to community colleges and universities – help grow our economy, providing workers the new skills they need to make our area a magnet for new businesses and top-paying jobs.
Our outdated transportation grid must be revamped to correct bottlenecks so that commuters and freight move through the state efficiently. Our state’s tax and worker’s compensation systems must be reformed to encourage businesses to hire and retain employees.
By taking the right steps now, we can emerge from this recession, stronger and better able to meet the challenges of the decades ahead. Our current budget crisis should push state leaders to make long-term changes that will encourage job growth, help employers, and keep future budgets balanced.
Education is the paramount duty of state government. Every problem we face from crime, the economy, jobs, healthcare, even the environment, can be improved by a properly funded and professional public education system.
This is very personal issue to me. Both my parents were educators who gave over 80 years of their lives to public education in South King County. I attended public school and coached in the Renton and Highline districts. There are incredible success stories coming out of our public schools each and every day, but we must continue to be open to new ideas and willing to embrace reform.
After decades of underfunding our schools, the state is starting to turn the corner but the future is still uncertain. I helped lead the successful charge for an additional $1 billion in school funding in the most recent budget all while holding tuition flat at our community colleges and universities for the first time in nearly three decades.
Some in Olympia would like to leverage funding for schools with new taxes. But holding back on funding education unless there are massive tax increases is not only bad for education, it's unconstitutional. Kids deserve our first dollar, not our last dime.
The most important thing for an elected leader to do is set clear priorities. When I took office in 2010, the state faced a $2.6 billion deficit. Year-after-year legislators would return to Olympia in special sessions to address budgets that were out of balance. More often than not, they would slash higher education and K-12 to make up the difference.
We changed all that. After forcing passage of a first-of-its-kind reform, the four year balanced budget, we have been able to wrangle deficits into surpluses, and turn education cuts into cuts in tuition. Now, the impacts of each budget decision must be viewed over a four-year period of time. This all but eliminated the frequent gimmicks and felony accounting practices that have been responsible for so many deficits over time. As a result, the share of the budget that goes towards education has grown from 42% in 2010, to almost 46% in 2014.
In 2012, I helped push for passage of the four-year balanced budget statute. This law, now in effect, requires our state's budget to be balanced over four years. In the past, budgets had been adopted that pushed liabilities out into future bienniums, or adopted legislation and failed to pay for it. This led to the never-ending cycle of budget deficits. The four-year balanced budget prevents the use of these gimmicks by keeping state spending under control and its budgets balanced.
Following the Legislature’s progress on DUI-related legislation in 2013, I began work as a prosecutor in the King County Prosecutor’s office to learn the system and its needs from the inside. Following that experience I introduced two proposals ahead of the 2014 session.
The first measure adds to the types of prior DUI offenses that can be considered during sentencing, providing a more comprehensive look at the offender’s criminal past. It also requires repeat offenders to appear before a judge prior to their release from jail after an arrest. The second successful piece of legislation increases the required time served for those who circumvent ignition interlock devices or operate a vehicle without one. Both allow prosecutors to seek more appropriate sentences given the offender’s previous actions and disregard for public safety.
Many lives are needlessly lost each year to DUI. These measures are just another important step towards addressing this crime.
Unfortunately, Washington is still one of the only states in the United States where an offender needs five DUI convictions within 10 years before they are charged with a felony. This must change.
- Led the charge to restore cuts to State Food Assistance for families with young children.
- Worked with the Attorney General to champion open government training for elected officials to preserve the public's access to their records.
- Ensured passage of the Real Hope Act (Dream Act) to provide education opportunities to all children in Washington.
- Gained tougher protections for courthouse employees against physical abuse.
- Fought the extension of "temporary" taxes that hurt small businesses.
- Held tuition flat at Washington State colleges and universities for the first time since 1986.
- Secured needed levee funding for flood protection in the Green River Valley.
- Co-sponsored legislation that moved 5,000 individuals with developmental disabilities off of a wait list and into needed services.
- Secured funding to build additional youth baseball and soccer facilities in our community.
- Prioritized funding for the Renton Aerospace Training Center to provide training for family-wage jobs.