The election last week effectively shut the door on advancing economic opportunity and security for families and workers at the federal level. But that is not the end of the story.
The focus for progress now turns from Washington DC to Washington state. We must continue to weave the blanket of economic opportunity which we have together created in our state over the past two decades.
The good news is that the people in our state resoundingly passed the Raise Up Washington initiative. This increases the statewide minimum wage to $11 in 2017 and $13.50 in 2020. It provides paid sick and safe days to all workers starting in 2018. Our state will have the most comprehensive and universal labor standards in the nation, covering all workers, leaving no one out. That is real progress for workers, especially low income workers, who are disproportionately women and people of color.
We made progress in the City of Olympia, where voters weighed in on a local income tax to fund higher education. Even while this initiative was impacted by the depressed voter turnout, it did receive over 47% support. And while 47% is not enough to win, it is the best showing, by far, for an income tax at the ballot box since 1932. It enables us to ramp up our efforts in 2017 for ensuring that the affluent contribute equitably, through fair taxation, to public services for all Washingtonians.
The project of building an economy that works for everyone in our state is far from finished. Washington’s strong track record on bread-and-butter economic policy issues means progressive advocates and organizers across the country will be looking to us in the years ahead. It also means our opponents will refocus and redouble their efforts to undo our work and block further progress.
For nearly two decades, EOI has worked to craft public policies that promote both opportunity and security for all Washingtonians. Now we must renew our work for social justice and economic equity,
Together we can realize the evolution of progress we all desire, caring for each other, in solidarity, with respect, and with love.
Nothing is certain; but I believe that in the long run, together we will prevail.