1. Innovation and the Economy.
Science and technology have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII, when the federal government first prioritized peacetime science mobilization. But several recent reports question America’s continued leadership in these vital areas. What policies will best ensure that Washington State remains a world leader in innovation?
Innovation is a cornerstone of our state. Washington led a technological revolution in aerospace, another technological revolution in aerospace and we can lead new technological revolutions in industries such as life sciences and clean energy. These are industries that can unite both sides of our state, from welders and truckers to engineers and scientists.
My jobs plan includes specific proposals to help start-ups find capital, to spur commercialization of R&D from our state research institutions, and encourage growth in our promising biofuels industry with a new Biofuels Center of Excellence.
As importantly, we have to prioritize new STEM degree and training in our universities and technical colleges. We are importing skilled workers from out of state to fill empty jobs and risk losing our competitive advantage if we don’t build a pipeline of skilled, knowledgeable workers in high-demand STEM fields.
2. Climate Change.
The Earth’s climate is changing and there is concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet. What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other policies proposed to address global climate change—and what steps can we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges like climate change that cross state and national boundaries?
I’m proud of the leadership role I took in Congress on issues of climate change and conservation. I co-authored a book titled Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy about how we can move away from a fossil-fuel based economy towards a clean energy future. The League of Conservation Voters endorsed my race for governor, their first gubernatorial endorsement in three decades.
As governor, I will make Washington a leader in the clean energy industry, and I will promote policies to electrify our transportation system and allow people to bike, walk or use transit.
Increasingly, the global economy is driven by science, technology, engineering and math, but a recent comparison of 15-year-olds in 65 countries found that average science scores among U.S. students ranked 23rd, while average U.S. math scores ranked 31st. In your view, why have our students fallen behind over the last three decades, and what role should the Washington State government play to better prepare students of all ages for the science and technology-driven global economy?
STEM education is, without question, increasingly important to maintaining our competitive advantage in the industries of the future. There are steps we can take at all levels of our education system to improve prospects for our children.
First, we haven’t done enough to provide quality early learning to children. The research is unequivocal – early childhood education is the most proven way to ensure students are ready to learn. It’s why I am committed to working towards all-day kindergarten and universal pre-K for Washington’s children.
In our K-12 system, we need to do a better job teaching our teachers in the subjects of math and science. Improved mentoring and professional development is key to not only boosting teacher proficiency in STEM subjects, but also in providing them with effective teaching methods. My education plan also includes a proposal for an Innovative Schools grant program so we can incentivize more public schools to adopt the kinds of innovative programs that we’re seeing at places like Delta High School in the Tri-Cities or the TAF Academy in Federal Way.
In our colleges and universities, as we restore funding, we need to incentivize and prioritize production of STEM degrees. We know these are more costly, but we also know that we are currently importing workers to fill jobs that should be going to Washington graduates. In 2011, for example, we needed about 5,100 computer science graduates to fill open positions, but only graduated 2000 students. We can, and must, do better.
4. Ocean Health.
Scientists estimate that 75 percent of the world’s fisheries are in serious decline, habitats like coral reefs are threatened, and large areas of ocean and coastlines are polluted. What role should the Washington State government play in protecting the environmental health and economic vitality of the oceans?
While in Congress, I worked to secure funding to clean up Washington’s coasts and the Puget Sound, and as governor I will continue to do so. As we pursue efforts to clean up our waters, which is an economic and environmental imperative, we must ensure that polluters carry an appropriate level of responsibility and that taxpayers are not unfairly burdened by these costs.
I will also use the governor’s bully pulpit to raise the profile of this important effort, taking the case to Washingtonians of the importance of a healthy Ocean and Sound to a healthy economy and healthy children.
5. Vaccination and public health.
Vaccination campaigns against preventable diseases such as measles, polio and whooping cough depend on widespread participation to be effective, but in some communities vaccination rates have fallen off sharply. What actions would you support to enforce vaccinations in the interest of public health, and in what circumstances should exemptions be allowed?
I believe in evidence-based public policy and public health decisions. Only 75% of our state’s toddlers received their recommended vaccinations in 2011. While this is an improvement from previous years, we must do all we can to effectively communicate the importance of immunization in order to prevent outbreaks like the recent pertussis crisis in our state.
6. Science in Public Policy.
We live in an era when science and technology affect every aspect of life and society, and so must be included in well informed public policy decisions. How will you ensure that policy and regulatory decisions are fully informed by the best available scientific and technical information, and that the public is able to evaluate the basis of these policy decisions?
Unfortunately, there are too many public leaders today who discount science for the sake of ideology. Whether it’s research into climate change or research into what’s most proven to incentivize quality teaching, it’s essential that we base decisions on the best available information and research. I believe strongly in transparency in government and will work hard to ensure that the public has ready access to the reports and research used by the leaders of Washington’s state agencies.