Sen. McAuliffe speaks with constituents in Bothell
by Jeff Switzer
In anticipation of the upcoming legislative session, State Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe met locally Dec. 13 with constituents from her district to hear their concerns and desires for changes at the state and local levels.
The small group of community leaders primarily addressed the education needs of youth.
McAuliffe, chair of the senate's Education Committee, spoke of the lid on state spending imposed by I-601, noting the initiative takes state population growth into consideration, but not increases in the student populations.
According to McAuliffe, federal and state laws set mandatory levels of money to be spent per student, and education dollars will become a larger percentage of the state budget as a whole because of 601.
"Education is my passion," McAuliffe said. "We work very hard to be sure we have a long range plan in place. My job is to make sure the money is there to supplement educational reform, but we still need to be efficient."
McAuliffe added that she is staying on top of the U.W./Cascadia College project, which will serve the higher education needs of the area.
Six residents spoke about the needs of the youth in the area and the state. Shirley Anderson, who is involved with DWI victims panels for the area, spoke about making it mandatory throughout the state for drivers' education students to attend a DWI victims' panel.
Resident Richard Dandridge noted the opportunity the state legislature has with education reform to solve the problems of youth violence and crime within the school system.
Another area resident expressed concern about the efforts to create charter schools and voucher systems, stating that both eat into the fiber of public education.
"Public education allows for kids to be role models and teaches them how to live with differences," McAuliffe said. "It creates a common ground."
She said that during the last session, the House passed a charter bill, but she refused to hear it in the Senate.
The final speaker of the night spoke about the need for universal healthcare and daycare, noting that half of the country's workforce is made up of women.
He criticized the legislature's move to subsidize the future baseball stadium when the state would better increase statewide revenues by helping out small businesses.