There are countless issues in this state and all are a top priority to those who are near to them. It then becomes necessary to prioritize our needs to the benefit of the majority. Here a a few that rise to the top for me. This by no means a complete list, and most likely will grow in the next few weeks.
Mental Health and Suicide is probably the #1 issue not only in Washington State but in the nation as well. Our children are struggling with finding direction and purpose in their lives. They are constantly looking to medicate themselves with drugs and/or alcohol, combine this with excessive screen time and you have a recipe for disaster. Spend a little time with our homeless population and you will see that mental illness is rampant, We have cut back the financial support on our mental health facilities and support for educating mental health professionals. We have a shortage in the workforce, I have looked for and will continue to look to find ways to increase the funding needed to fill this gap.
Water will always be a major issue in Eastern Washington. I have lived in the Columbia Basin most of my life and I have truly watched the desert bloom. Thanks to the Columbia Basin Reclamation Project we are as close to being drought resistant as anywhere in the world, which allows us to be one of the major producers of the safest and most abundant food supply the world has ever known. But that being said we cannot do this without the water and it is vitally important that we protect and preserve this life giving resource, and not allow politics to destroy our ability to feed ourselves, provide recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat.
Catastrophic Wildfire and Forest Health, is has always seemed to me their is something inherently wrong with burning up our natural resources.To limit wildfires we must reduce the fuel load in the forest and range lands. We can do that by improving forest health, reducing the fuel loads using proven forest management, And the same on the range land by the prudent use of grazing and other management techniques. Limiting wildfires saves our natural resources but also improves air quality and human respiratory health issues. When we do have a wildfire and need fire suppression efforts initial attack is a valuable tool to keep these fires small. The use of air tankers has improved our initial attack capability thereby reducing the size of our wildfires. I will continue to work on these issues and further expand our efforts in forest and range land health.
Child Care and Early Learning will emerge as a top issue in the near future. We have lost approximately 30% of our providers due to the COVID crisis and we cannot afford to lose anymore. I believe it is imperative that we reduce the regulatory demands on our early learning centers to enable them to stay in business. Without quality childcare much of our workforce will not be able to return to the workplace. Our children our are legacy, I am committed to helping them get the best start they possibly can, and early learning is one of those ways we can give them a positive boost.
Transportation Infrastructure including Aviation Infrastructure continues to be a high priority. Although with the current crisis this may not seem to be so necessary but we will be back to high activity soon and we need not lose our sights on the needs and demands of our society. Aviation/Aerospace is a $108 billion dollar a year industry in Washington state and provides countless jobs. We need to preserve this valuable source of income not only to our friends and neighbors but to our state as well. We are poised to become the worldwide center of aviation/aerospace.
Governors State of Emergency Powers have many in the legislature concerned that it can continue without legislative approval. Look for legislation to include the legislature in this process. We have three branches of Government for a reason, lets keep all three branches engaged.