IMPROVING OUR SCHOOLS
During Mark’s time in the Senate our local public schools have fared better than any other time in recent history. We have been able to raise average teacher pay from $64,000 to $90,000. We finally funded full day kindergarten, and we lowered class sizes in in the early grades of elementary school. Because our school districts were being short changed in the old funding formula, Mark fought to make sure the new funding formula gave our local schools their fair share of state tax revenue.
Mark also realizes that schools often need help when it comes to construction costs and finding a good piece of land to locate a new school. Mark played the critical role in helping the Tahoma School District obtain land for their high school, which is now one of the best new schools in our State. Mark also helped Black Diamond Elementary School during their school remodel two years ago.
Going forward, Mark’s focus is on getting our kids safely back into the classroom during this school year. Mark’s plan is to start with our youngest students and those that need the most help. Mark wants to get all special education students and English language learners into our schools immediately, along with kindergartners and first graders as these students do not thrive in an on-line learning environment. Mark would like to see all of elementary school students back into the classroom full-time, and all middle and high school students on a hybrid schedule where they fluctuate between in-school and at home learning. Mark strongly believes that the legislature needs to pass new bills to provide extra support and flexibility for school districts so we can make this happen.
REDUCING TRAFFIC CONGESTION
Mark championed the project to add an extra lane on I-90 between Issaquah and Bellevue that is currently under construction and will open later this year.
Mark played the critical role in securing funding to widen Highway 18 and fix the interchange in Snoqualmie, which goes out to bid this fall so construction can begin next year.
But this is only half the battle, as Mark will need your help to get re-elected so he can fight to make sure the remaining section of Highway 18 is expanded to four lanes, which will cost $300m. If we don’t get this project into the transportation investment package next year we may have to wait another decade to make progress.
HELPING OUR ENVIRONMENT
Mark was proud to support the 100% clean energy passed in Olympia last year. This puts our State on a path to cleaner energy for the next generation.
Mark has also been proud to work on the State’s capital budget that funds projects to help restore important salmon habitat around the Puget Sound.
One of the key priorities for Mark when he first became State Senator was revitalizing Lake Sammamish State Park. This project has been successful, as Lake Sammamish State Park is once again the best State park in the region, with a new playground and improved beach access.
Going forward, Mark wants to continue investments to make the 5th Legislative District the best place for outdoor recreation in the State. This not only enables our residents to have easy access to enjoy the natural beauty of our district, but also helps business owners as more people from Seattle and Bellevue will come our direction for hiking and bike riding.
During the final week of session in 2020 Mark helped support a $175m bill that took money from our State’s rainy day fund and moved it into a bucket to make sure we would have the healthcare supplies necessary to fight this pandemic.
Mark was the prime sponsor of legislation to make insurance companies help their customers understand how much different medical procedures will cost based on where the work is performed. Price transparency was sorely missing in our state, but it is one of the best ways to help reduce health care inflation.
Mark played an important role in the bill last session to address prescription drug costs. This will help lower prescription drug costs for Washington residents for decades to come.
Mark was proud to co-sponsor the insulin bill this year to make sure the monthly co-pay is affordable. This was important to Mark because his younger brother is a Type 1 diabetic.
Going forward, we need to make sure our State has the resources necessary to administer the COVID-19 vaccine on a wide scale as quickly as possible. It will be essential that we not let this process get caught up in bureaucratic misery. The state needs to provide resources and flexibility to help immunize our population as safely and quickly as technology will allow.
ENSURING FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY
As a small business owner, Mark knows the importance of making sure we are accountable with our tax dollars. Mark also appreciates that extra tax revenue doesn’t always have to create new government programs, but can sometimes provide tax relief.
Mark was the prime sponsor SB 6641, the largest property tax reduction bill ever passed in our State. This bill reduced property taxes by $400 million. 5th District voters saw this savings in their 2019 property tax bills.
Going forward, Mark’s focus is on fixing the headaches at the Employment Security Department. Too many constituents have been waiting too long to have their unemployment claims processed. This needs to be a priority at the start of the session to make sure claims are being processed accurately and in a timely manner.
Mark knows it's your money. He knows his top priority is to ensure that every dollar is spent wisely.