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May 13, 2014

Dear Friends, Once again it is campaign season, which provides an opportunity to report on what has been accomplished over the past two years, and to tell you my goals for the next two.

As I filed for office this morning, I reflected on the accomplishments and the challenges of the past two years. We were in Olympia until the end of July last year trying to come to agreement on a budget and several major policy bills. At the end of the day, we passed a budget that increased funding for K-12 schools by nearly a billion dollars, and restored some of the deep cuts we made during the recession to social service programs and higher education. Revenues are not rebounding as well as previous recessions, and the state does not have the capacity to fully fund education and support other functions of state government with our existing tax system. I am hopeful that, in the coming session, we will carefully look not only at budget expenditures, but at tax exemptions, and eliminate those that are not yielding a public benefit.

Much of my legislative work has been focused on reforming major systems in state government. This session, two of the reforms I have worked on for years finally are being implemented: performance based contracting for child welfare services, and integration of child care and pre-school programs to provide full-day, quality care for low income children in Washington.

Finally, after years of effort, the Youth Opportunity Act passed the legislature this year and was signed into law. Did you know that Washington is one of 8 states with open juvenile records? A teenager who makes a mistake, and pays for his crime, has carried that record into adulthood, often being unable to get a job or housing as a result. Now, most juveniles, when they turn 18, will have their records sealed unless their crimes were violent serious offenses or sex offenses. It truly will provide the opportunity to thousands of youth in Washington to build a future and become productive adults.

Fully funding K-12 education will be the primary goal of the next legislative session. In addition, I have two goals for the next two years: pass the Early Start bill, putting into law a quality improvement framework for our early learning programs and funding it. The research is irrefutable: quality early learning opportunities give children a strong start in school, and sustain over time. Investing in quality early learning is the most effective way to address the opportunity gap.

My second goal is to improve outcomes for foster children, with a focus on strengthening how the courts address the needs of these children and families.

Every one of my successes in the legislature is due to the tremendous support of the 32nd District, and of the many people across our state who fight for children and families. Without it, I could not be an effective champion for children and families.

Please contact me with any of your concerns and questions. My personal email is kagi@seanet.com

Best regards,

Ruth


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