Our economy is facing the most severe crisis in a generation. We are struggling to come to grips with the perfect economic storm of rising costs, growing unemployment, stagnant wages and drastic market reductions in the value of savings and investments.
The challenge of state government today is how best to rapidly adapt to a shifting economic infrastructure to build a 21st Century economy.
Transformational financial disruption is happening all around us as evidenced by the devastating collapse of Washington Mutual. Yet Seattle is a home to ecommerce, aerospace, wireless, software, fishing, boat building and repair, higher education research and trade-related economic activity. In today’s reality we must provide the workforce development infrastructure to unleash the market opportunities in biotechnology and biomedical fields, clean energy, philanthropy and trade even further.
Reuven’s professional background in clean energy will enable him to focus on job growth and economic infrastructure in clean energy in ways that can help our economy rebuild and emerge from this recession even stronger.
In state government, we must protect vital services for education, low income, children, elderly, foster children and other vulnerable groups. Yet, it’s time to recognize that a relentless march of increasing taxes at the city, county and state level is not sustainable. Different levels of government simply must coordinate and work together more closely instead of racing to the ballot for each new program. It’s a radical concept to ask different levels of government to coordinate, but there is little choice in today’s difficult economic times.
The central role of state government is to ensure a world-class, educated community to access and create family wage jobs. Reuven is a member of the State Board for Community and TechnicalColleges, the $2 billion agency that oversees 34 colleges and that handles workforce training in our state. He actively supports workforce development programs, job training, lifelong learning, distance learning and more. As chairman of the Technology Transformation Task Force, Reuven is leading a major initiative to dramatically expand the state’s distance learning programs (the area of highest growth from students in higher education in our state) that now serve nearly 1000,000 students.
Small business is the economic engine of Washington. It is our number one employer and most accurate reflection of the entrepreneurial spirit that built our state. As an entrepreneur, Reuven will be a voice and champion for small business in Olympia.
Next year’s legislature will face very tough financial decisions. Reuven will bring progressive values—a commitment to those most vulnerable in our society—along with strong business, policy, and financial and technical skills to the task.
We can emerge from today’s perfect storm stronger and more adaptable to a 21st Century economy, but only by working together toward a real strategic action plan.
Education is the paramount duty of state government. Reuven supports increased funding and expanding the very definition of 'basic education' to include at least one year of additional education, training or certification beyond high school. We must bring down the institutional silos of education between early learning through K-12 and higher education. We must recognize that great teachers and principals-with accountability, authority and resources-make a fundamental difference in the lives of children and give parents the confidence they deserve.
As a high tech entrepreneur in the wireless and software industries, Reuven is supportive of high standards and improved math and science. Yet the WASL itself has also become an easy excuse to narrow the curriculum. Society depends upon educated young people to learn how to think critically about issues and ideas. Reuven is a passionate advocate for art, music, civics and humanities and he will work hard to give voice to those essential ingredients of public education.
As a member of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Reuven is intimately familiar with the fact that forty-one percent of bachelor's degrees earned in Washington begin at the community college level. Seventy-two thousand people benefit from the convenience of eLearning. We need to recognize that young people learn in new and different ways, and many of the old fashioned institutional structures are hurting the ability of students to reach their potential.
We need to recognize the profound importance of adequately funding the University of Washington, one of our most important economic and research engines. Reuven will make improving education-from finance and governance to capital facilities and financial aid-the very foundation of his work in Olympia. As the father of four children, Reuven is actively engaged in John Hay Elementary School on Queen Anne. He is painfully familiar with the struggles of the Seattle Public School District and hopes to make a difference for the 36th and the City of Seattle as an engaged, proactive and progressive voice for education in Olympia.
The issue of Global Warming will define how today's public leadership will be judged for generations.
As a Legislator, Reuven will be so much more than a back bench 'green vote' for the environment—he will be a fully engaged and proactive champion of 21st Century environmental legislation as a member of the Seattle delegation in Olympia.
He will give voice to complex issues and ideas that require a genuine knowledge of clean technology, jobs and ecosystems. He has the management and relationship skills to work with local, county and state officials on tough environmental issues—salmon, Puget Sound cleanup funding, density, 'concurrence in Growth Management Act policy' and more—without being marginalized as a "Seattle liberal" disconnected from millions living outside our city's borders. Reuven will be effective in his first term by immediately supporting the prioritized strategic initiatives of top environmental champions including Rep. Hans Dunshee and others.
It is time for government to reflect the core environmental values of the people of our state, and to stand for clear and consistent regulatory guidelines combined with common sense and well-designed market incentives for stakeholders. Both approaches are necessary and valuable when backed by quality data and attention to the laws of unintended consequences.
Some of the fundamental policy questions government must answer include: Will local government land-use policies be directly tied to global warming issues? Will the state quickly engage in meaningful action to build the infrastructure of Clean Technology jobs, training and systems, or will the state be paralyzed by years of analysis and study?
State government must directly engage in linking advanced environmental technologies with transportation. Mass transit must become the very foundation of our public infrastructure and transportation policies. Every major and minor public issue from trade, Viaduct replacement and fish and wildlife policies must begin to actively incorporate the impact of global environmental issues.
On a professional level, Reuven is active in helping early stage Clean Technology companies to explore new approaches to plug-in electric hybrids and smart electrical utility grids. Reuven believes that plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles offer one of the most promising approaches to long-term structural transportation and environmental improvements.
Children and Families
One of Reuven's deepest and most personal public policy passions is helping to improve the lives and education of foster children. The state is the legal guardian for more than 12,000 young people, approximately 5,000 in our K-12 system, yet the state's oversight and management of their educational needs is a moral outrage. Less than 2% of foster children ever achieve the dream of a college education while more than 10 times that number will go to prison soon after leaving the state's care.
We are too moral of a society to allow this injustice.
As a volunteer citizen activist, Reuven wrote "Passport to College Promise," a bill with $2.7M in funding designed to help foster youth in Washington go to college. Gov. Gregoire proudly signed the bill in 2007. As a Legislator, Reuven will continue to stand for foster youth and to work for meaningful improvement in their lives through access to education.
Helping to improve the lives of all children and families goes to the core of Reuven's passion for public service, and will be a central part of his work for the people of the 36th District.
Reuven's professional career has been based in part upon a theme of providing advanced technology solutions to local police, fire and EMS officials. Helping our public safety professionals save lives and property is important not only to enhancing our quality of life, but to our ability to accomodate the additional 1.7 million new residents projected in the Seattle area in the next two decades.
Reuven is a genuine and proven supporter of our nation's public safety community. In his role as a senior business development and public policy executive, he helped build a company, Xypoint, from a small start up company to the largest provider of wireless E911 services in the nation. He is co-founder of a systems integration firm providing virtual reality simulation training products and services to local public safety and educational agencies. Reuven developed a program to create a virtual reality simulation computer game for Native American and Alaska Native children at risk of death and injury by fires, one of this vulnerable group's leading causes of harm in Indian Country throughout the United States.
Previously, when he was with McCaw Cellular Communications, Reuven was lead on a number of emergency preparedness initiatives and helped facilitate the company's response to Hurricane Andrew in Florida. He also served as chairman of the board of directors of the nation's premier software company providing communications interoperability technology.
Reuven is particularly supportive of adopting proven commercial and military technologies to local public safety needs including: virtual reality simulation training, shoot/don't shoot training programs, prevention and education projects, radio communications interoperability and more.
Reuven is deeply honored to have the enthusiastic support of Seattle Fire Fighters Local 27. He will be a strong champion for the men and women who protect our communities and public safety programs, resources, infrastructure and benefits in the Legislature.
Transportation, Public Infrastructure & New Generation Waterfront
We have a once in a lifetime chance to mold our regional transportation and public infrastructure into an integrated and coordinated system where mass transit, surface streets, I-5, SR 99, 520 Bridge, and I-90 work together in concert. The Viaduct has forced the issue, and given us a fundamental public policy choice. Either we can keep muddling along with separate projects, drawn out timelines, confusing ballot initiatives and let Seattle grind to a halt, or we can learn from other cities worldwide and transform our transportation network for a 21st Century community.
Mass transit is critical; we need buses that connect to trolleys that connect to trains in an efficient and seamless system that lets us go where we need to go, when we need to go there. We need mass transit that plays well with private cars and trucks: that means park and rides, carpool lanes, and van shares along with bicycle and walking paths. Today's governance confusion between Sound Transit, Metro, Washington DOT and other layers makes it difficult to coordinate an integrated transportation strategic plan.
We have a once in a 200 year opportunity to recapture the very soul of our city—an extraordinary waterfront. We must recognize the importance of this community asset as a social, economic, cultural and transportation driver of our region. We all share the deep concerns about construction and logistics, and the central importance of commercial and airport traffic, but we also appreciate the reality that we are finally seeing technically and operationally feasible design options.
Specifically, commercial traffic needs efficient routes to keep industry and jobs within Seattle and the 36th District. This means replacing the structurally broken Viaduct with a modified surface solution incorporating a tunnel that helps capture the DNA of the waterfront while keeping Seattle's major west-side artery open for business. This means reengineering the exits, entrances and connections to I-5 as we build a surface and tunnel (grade separation) approach to SR99. We must not rebuild the Viaduct and divorce the waterfront from the heartbeat of our city for another 200 years.
We need public/private partnerships where employers work in concert with government so their employees can get to work, get home and run errands in a way that is efficient and friendly to the environment. We must encourage technological innovations like plug-in hybrids to enable the electrification of the vehicle.
Building and maintaining a first-class transportation infrastructure is not free. We need an intelligent and well-designed system of variable user tolls that simultaneously helps the economics, environment and social aspects of transportation on all levels. We need to empower Sound Transit to do their job while holding the institutional bureaucracy of the divergent local, regional and state agencies accountable for a clearer and more coordinated strategic direction and system of governance.
The long-term capital infrastructure of our region requires long-term investment. It's time to move forward.
Quality, Affordable Health Care for All
The raging national battle over how to provide affordable, high quality access to health care will not be solved in Olympia. Yet there are profoundly important steps the Legislature must take as health care consumes increasing amounts of precious state resources. Federal reform may happen, but we need to develop an effective and efficient health care system in Washington whether or not they act.
Health care costs are the fastest growing portion of the state budget and are virtually out of control. Reuven believes the central philosophical underpinning of Washington's health care system must move from an 'illness' oriented system to a 'prevention' and 'healthy living' oriented approach. Currently, financial incentives to industry unwisely support increased specialization in health care that is proven to increase costs and lower outcomes at the expense of primary care-based health management that is proven to increase people's quality of health outcomes and to lower costs. We must provide clear, compelling incentives to reward prevention and health enhancement at all levels.
Small business, our state's number one employer, is being crushed under the cost of our current system. It is an unacceptable financial disaster that 30% of the health care dollar is, in effect, wasted on administrative overhead, bureaucratic inefficiency, efforts to prevent payments, expensive proprietary technology and more. Each institutional player seeks its little slice of the health care dollar while the patient and providers are pushed further down the food chain. We need systems of care that unleash nurses, physicians and other care providers to focus on health outcomes, cut unneeded systems and structures, and give them the additional training and support they need.
As our population ages, we need home health care, nursing training initiatives including better pay and real recruitment and retention support—like free tuition—at our two and four year colleges.
Specifically, Reuven's background in technology and public policy will allow him to focus on developing effective systems of care for the state and assist providers where public policy can be brought to bear. He will reject expensive, proprietary technology systems that prevent primary care physicians and health care providers from accessing important information to better serve patients. These steps will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and enable the state to use those resources for improved health care services for everyone.