Important Note: My campaign is about realizing that no matter where we stand on the political spectrum, we all ultimately want a fair, prosperous state where everyone's rights are upheld. It is not about pushing a specific agenda. Nevertheless, of course I have my own opinions on issues and I am happy to share them here.

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I am grateful for the excellent education I had growing up, but much of it was in private schools and I am saddened that these opportunities are out of reach to large portions of the population. Great schools should not be a privilege of the rich. If we believe that anyone who works hard should be able to succeed, then we cannot accept some lucky children getting a head start simply because their parents are wealthy.

I'm astonished that fully-funding education is not among the highest priorities of our legislature. Washington's constitution calls it a "paramount duty" and even if it didn't, making sure that everyone has access to top-quality education is an obvious necessity for any state that wants to endure. What investment in our future could be more important than ensuring our next generation is well-educated? Don't we want them to be able to live happy, productive lives? Don't we want our state's future leaders to be able to make informed decisions? Don't we want Washington to continue to prosper?

Without assurance that public schools will be fully and consistently funded, it's no wonder we have a shortage of desperately needed teachers. Reducing class size is a central part of improving the quality of our education system. Initiative 1351, passed in 2014, placed limits on class sizes and it's an embarrassment for our state that the legislature has yet to provide the funding needed to implement it. This should be of the highest priority. We need to reduce class size, attract more teachers to Washington, and reduce the burden on students and teachers of standardized testing. I believe we will not have a truly fair or truly great education system until our public schools are of such high quality that the market for private schools in our state is substatially reduced.

    

The state tax system we currently have provides a shrinking revenue stream for Washington and disproportionately taxes the poor, and it's getting worse. Unlike most states, we have no income tax and the state relies heavily on our high sales tax. Since the tax on essentials is the same no matter who buys them, it's a significantly larger portion of lower-income workers' pay. The bottom fifth of Washington's workforce pays about 17% of their income as tax, while some of the highest paid residents pay less than 3%. In addition, stores in Washington face stiff competition from Oregon, which has no sales tax, and also from the rapidly growing online retail industry. As our state has grown, the retail industry has not kept pace, and the revenue from sales tax is no longer enough to support Washington.

All the new taxes that have cropped up recently including school levies, car tabs, and rising property tax are attempts to make up for the lack of revenue from sales tax. I do not believe we should raise taxes, but we are in desperate need of reforming how we tax. I would support tax reform that repeals sales tax entirely and replaces it with an across-the-board, low-rate income tax. This would be significantly less regressive, provide much-needed relief to Washington stores, and create a consistent, stable revenue stream for the state. In addition, I believe we should encourage the growth of small businesses by lowering or repealing the business and occupation tax of companies under a certain size.

    

Everyone knows that healthcare in our country is a fiasco. We're supposedly guaranteed healthcare from our employers, but even then deductibles and co-pays often make going to the doctor a financial decision. Losing a job is also losing health insurance. Individuals, busineses, and medical facilities are burdened not only financially, but also by tedious record-keeping requirements. Overall, we spend about twice as much per capita on healthcare in this country than any other. Believe it or not, even though private insurance companies pay for most healthcare, per capita public expenditure on healthcare in the US is greater than any other country, even countries that provide public healthcare to everyone.

Obamacare has succeeded in getting more Americans health insurance, but it has done nothing to lower the cost of healthcare and the underlying problems are still unaddressed. Health insurance is expensive, record-keeping is tedious, co-pays and deductibles place financial burdens on patients at the worst time, and the bundling of coverage with employment traps employees.

A single-payer system is the only way forward that makes sense to me. Critics may dislike the idea on principle, but since it would eliminate the roughly 20% profit that insurances companies make, even the most hardened conservative must understand how much money would be saved overall. Allowing the state to negotiate large contracts with providers as well as not having to track every visit and procedure for billing would bring additional savings.

Implementation of a Washington state single-payer system is ambitious, but it's the only option that makes sense. There's no help likely to come from the federal level anytime soon, and we owe it to Washington residents to do whatever we can. I believe the system could be financed with a payroll tax that would replace what employers currently pay for healthcare. Employers currently must pay for employees' health insurance, and most insurance in Washington either comes from employers or is already publicly funded. The payroll tax would replace that expense for employers. With the savings attached to eliminating insurance companies' profit, it's likely this tax will be a smaller financial burden than the insurance premiums they are currently required to pay.

    

We desperately need to reduce the influence of money in politics. A wealthy citizen should not be able to buy elections by pouring money into a campaign, and poorer citizens and candidates should be able to make their voices heard. It is understandable to see donation limits as a violation of free speech and, like any law that might infringe rights for practical reasons, we must find a balance between upholding rights and maintaining free, open elections. We are nowhere near that balance right now, after the US Supreme Court's ruling on Citizens United, which almost eliminates donation limits entirely. It also makes zero sense that official campaigns are limited but a Super-PAC can form for a campaign and spend limitless money. I hope that Citizens United is reversed soon. I also applaud Seattle's efforts to give every citizen an equal opportunity to support candidates by issuing vouchers that can be donated but not redeemed for cash.

    

Our planet is a precious, delicate resource that must be protected and preserved for future generations. Not only must we protect our forests, waterways, and wetlands, it is also important to continue transitioning toward green practices in transportation, industry, and farming. Our district is booming in development; almost everywhere you look there is new construction. It is important to make sure that as we develop new land we limit the impact on our environment. We should incentivize new constuction at sites that do not require clearing of land, and we need to make sure that no construction alters natural water flow or adversely affects our wetlands.

Global warming is also a serious problem and we must address it head-on. We need to reduce emissions fast by transitioning our energy industry away from fossil fuels, improving efficiency in transportation, including public transportation, and by carefully planning the overall use of land. Since we are already seeing some effects of global warming, in particular the rise of sea levels and stronger storms, we must also improve safety and disaster response plans.

    

There is no simple fix to our gridlocked roads. The greater Seattle area is growing at an astonishing rate, and infrastructure development has not kept pace. Various ideas have come and gone, but traffic -like our legislature- remains gridlocked. To fix our transportation problem, we need to apply exactly the process I participated in as an engineer: Fully define the problem, assemble a team of experts, weigh different ideas against each other based on their merits, and settle on a practical, effective, and affordable design.

ST3 is a huge, expensive project that will take decades to complete. It would be wonderful to have light rail link all over the Eastside, but we're already wary of the high car tabs levied to pay for it and no one is excited about spending the 20 years of construction time sitting in traffic. Rapid transit busses with few stops and their own dedicated lanes are almost as efficient as light rail at a tiny fraction of the cost and could be implemented in just a few weeks. I believe that we could create a transportation system with rapid transit busses as its core with a support system of park-and-rides coupled with incentives for efficient development around transit hubs. I will push for this approach in the legislature.





more coming soon

Candidate Statement

As a math teacher, I work every day to build lifelong positive outcomes for children. As an engineer, I have honed my skills as a problem solver and an independent thinker.

We live in bitterly divided times, yet I have faith that we all share the same goal of a prosperous, fair state, where our children are well educated and everyone's rights are upheld. We don't have to settle for perpetual gridlock. I've heard from so many of you around the district and, overwhelmingly, the message is clear: We need effective, practical, fiscally responsible solutions. And we need them now.

As a senator, I will bring the compassion and understanding of a teacher and the logical, analytical mind of an engineer. I will seek out good ideas no matter where they come from, and I don't care who gets the credit.

I pledge to work hard with the rest of the legislature to help design the lasting solutions we so desperately need. I will never cater to big donors or special interests. I will represent only you - the sensible majority. I will always listen, and I will make sure your voice is heard.

Thank you for taking the time to read my message. I humbly ask for your vote.


Parker Harris