As we rebuild our economy from the devastation of the pandemic, we must seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address the systemic inequities that left so many families vulnerable even before the pandemic. I understand the critical importance of strengthening our social safety net because my family would not have survived without it.
When I was seven, my father was in a terrible car accident that turned my world upside down. Like too many families are familiar with, the high cost of healthcare made it needlessly difficult on my family mentally, emotionally, and financially. But because that crisis happened before years of disinvestment in our social safety net, we were able to stay housed and fed through programs like TANF and local food banks.
That’s why I have fought so hard to protect and increase funding for these same programs this year in the state legislature, ensuring families like mine can depend on them during this crisis. Digging out from the pandemic is just the beginning though– we need to be investing in people so that they can thrive, not just survive.
We need to fix our upside down tax code that benefits the rich and holds working families back. We need to invest in our future by expanding access to apprenticeship programs and higher education so every child has an opportunity to earn more than a living wage. We must act with the fierce urgency of now to create a just economy so no future crisis, be it a pandemic or personal tragedy, deprives anyone in Martin Luther King, Jr. County of the chance to make something of themselves. Here’s how we make that happen:
1. Further address the unfairness in our tax code by building on the progress we made in the state legislature this year when we passed a capital gains tax. King County should pursue its own progressive revenue options to ensure the super-wealthy pay their fair share to fund investments in the well-being of working families.
2. Work with unions to expand apprenticeship programs and diversify our skilled workforce by connecting students who don’t want to pursue higher classroom education with opportunities to earn while they learn.
3. Make higher education more accessible to students from low-income families by increasing funding for schools in communities who have been excluded from public investments to provide services like college preparation and career counseling while subsidizing costs.
4. Work to guarantee every person in King County has their basic needs met by learning from the inequities in public health outcomes and vaccine distribution during the pandemic to identify communities that need urgent investments in essential infrastructure to deliver high-quality services to those in need.