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K-12 Education

Washington school funding is based on a 1970s definition of “basic education.” One obvious change is what is now everyday use of computers in classrooms. The drafters of the definitions had no reason to predict the changes technology would bring, let alone other ways that technology would impact learning. What is now everyday routine component of education has no funding source. The new Core 24 proposed requirements--increasing credits for graduation to 24--would require that the state to fund six high school periods a day instead of the current five. The legislature created a select committee on education funding, and its recommendations will be presented later this year. One thing is for certain, we need to modernize and adjust the way the state funds its schools. Yes, it will take more money, but the Constitution establishes education as the state’s “paramount duty,” and we must recognize and fulfill that duty.

The Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) should be used as a measure of a student’s performance in priority subjects; however, it should not be used as a sole determinant of whether or not a student is eligible to graduate from high school. We need strong accountability in our schools, but we should not let a single high stakes test dominate. It can be a part of a series of requirements--grades, attendance, portfolios of student work, senior projects, etc. Our goal is to build well rounded students; not just students who can pass a test.

We need to restore emphasis on career and technical education (vocational education). Since a majority of our high school graduates do not graduate from college, we must have educational opportunities for all students not just the ones bound for college.

Health Care

A priority of House Democrats is to make sure that all Washington children have health care by 2010. We are well on our way to that goal. At the same time, we must work to make quality health care more accessible to everybody. We have suffered because the Bush Administration has ignored the nation’s health care needs. What we really need is a national solution. It is my hope that in 2009 the federal and state governments will once again become partners in addressing our country’s pressing health care needs.

I support Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s proposal to provide catastrophic health care insurance everybody in the state. Such a program would reduce individual health insurance costs while increasing access to health insurance and quality health care.

The Environment

Sam knows having clean air, water, and removing toxics from our environment is essential. Sam’s a strong advocate for protecting Puget Sound. That’s why he sponsored the law that targets and will clean up old and failing septic systems along the sound.

He is also the sponsor of the the state’s mercury reduction law which is taking thousands of pounds of dangerous mercury out of products sold in our state and providing for proper disposal of mercury containing products. Sam will continue this effort by working to provide incentives to increase recycling of florescent lamps containing mercury.

Maintaining the views of the capitol and Puget Sound as envisioned by Wilder and White, the designers of the Capitol Campus helps preserve our environment. That is why Sam opposes construction of any buildings on the istmus that would block this majestic view. Further, he strongly supports removing the “mistake by the lake,” the Capitol Center Building.

It is an honor to be named a Washington Environmental Champion for the second consecutive year by the Washington Conservation Voters. As part of his commitment to the environment, Sam proudly serves on the board of directors of the Washington chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

Transportation

The interstate highway system was built primarily with federal funds, 90 % federal and 10% state funds. However, in recent years the federal government has provided very little funding for the interstate and other so-called federal highways, leaving the states to pick up the tab. Expansion, operation, and maintenance of these highways became a state responsibility without much federal government financial support.

For many years, the Legislature failed to address the increasing needs of the state’s transportation infrastructure. That changed with the recent legislative approval of new revenues for transportation. The latest increase was strongly upheld by a statewide vote. Hundreds of projects are underway, like adding lanes to Interstate 5 between Littlerock and Centralia. And so far 95% of the projects are being built within budget and 93% are built on time. We are making progress, but years of growing population and rapidly disappearing federal funds can’t be overcome all at once.

While I have a strong personal dislike for tolls, it appears that is one of the few remaining options we have if we are to continue to maintain and improve our transportation system.

While the Bush Administration quietly and meekly looked on, gasoline prices have skyrocketed. With no federal action or leadership, the oil companies and oil speculators have been reaping huge profits. And we are the victims. Unfortunately, there is little the state legislature can do to directly address this runaway profit-taking.

However, we can, and have passed legislation to reduce our dependency on foreign oil by supporting alternative fuels research and production. One result is the country’s largest bio fuel plant recently opened in Grays Harbor County.



Paid for by Sam Hunt for State Representative. PO Box 2573, Olympia, WA 98507. Steven Drew, Treasurer.