Making our tax system more fair
Representative Gerry Pollet is working to make our tax system more fair and to provide the revenue we need to provide for our children’s education, the opportunities of higher education, health and mental health care, and social services.
As your Representative, Gerry stands up against the special interests who have made our tax system the least fair in the entire nation, where retirees and poor pay more in taxes than if they lived anywhere else in the US, while the world’s wealthiest corporations pay less in taxes than in any other state.
Gerry serves on the House Finance Committee, responsible for tax and revenue policy, and the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee reviewing all tax breaks, but he doesn’t take campaign contributions from businesses seeking tax breaks.
We can’t have quality education for our children or improved access and quality for higher education without new revenue and a much more fair tax system.
It’s no accident that state investment in public schools and higher education began to drop after corporations succeeded in ending our state’s taxes on income from their investments in Wall Street. That’s why Gerry drafted and introduced legislation to close the loopholes for income from Wall Street investments; supports a capital gains tax; is a leader in requiring any business getting tax preferences to produce family wage jobs; and, leads efforts to eliminate massive tax loopholes (such as agribiz, which pays ZERO in state business taxes).
Protecting Consumers and Public Health
When Gerry Pollet saw a story about outrageous charges of up to $2,000 for towing cars just because someone parked in the wrong spot, he didn’t wait for someone else to speak up. Gerry’s first bill signed into law as a legislator ended predatory towing charges so that people don’t lose their cars or face choosing to pay rent or a mortgage because of predatory towing companies.
25% of high school seniors in King County used e-cigarettes or “vaped” last year – and, half of e-cigarette users end up also smoking regular cigarettes. But, there has been no state ban on sales to minors, enforcement, or disclosure of the toxic and cancer causing substances in e-cigarettes. Here in North Seattle, Lake Forest Park and Kenmore, I watched first hand as stores sold e-cigarettes to our kids.
Gerry’s first in the nation legislation to protect public health and prevent a new generation of kids from becoming addicted to nicotine via e-cigarettes passed this year! Gerry stood up to the lobbying campaigns mounted by the tobacco / e-cigarette companies to pass this ground breaking legislation. Like many important progressive bills, it took 3 years to pass the first regulation in the nation to disclose nicotine content of e-cigarettes and vapor products. Gerry’s bill became request legislation of our state AG, Bob Ferguson, who is also a 46th District resident and Governor Inslee.
E-cigarette and vaping stores tried tactics to defeat us which were downright dirty in addition to their campaign contributions: companies offered illegal discounts on e-cigarettes and vaping liquids if customers emailed or called legislators; and, posting pictures of Gerry on their “vaping” community websites with a large X over his face.
Championing public education and access to higher education
Gerry has been organizing for lower class sizes and to address the severe overcrowding in our local schools since 2007; and, has been active with PTSA and education for many years. Gerry’s a leader in the Legislature to provide the revenue we need to fund our schools and make our tax system more fair so our children’s constitutional rights to education aren’t put on hold for another generation.
Before Gerry represented the 46th District in the House, the state provided no support to address the overcrowded schools in north Seattle. Putting to work his years of organizing and knowledge about the severe overcrowding and lack of school capacity in north Seattle, Gerry developed and led successful efforts to provide Seattle and Northshore schools with tens of millions of dollars to reopen the Marshall School (housing Hazel Wolf K-8), Cedar Park Elementary and others.
150 special education students die every year across the US from use of restraints and isolation in schools. That won’t happen any longer in our state. Washington Autism Alliance and Advocacy recognized Gerry for his leadership in passing legislation ending the use of restraint and isolation on autistic and special education students in Washington in 2015. Gerry continues to lead efforts to improve outcomes, supports and opportunities for special needs and dyslexic students.
Gerry was responsible for developing the Legislature’s comprehensive plan to address the teacher shortage crisis in 2016. His innovative legislation, signed into law, includes a new grant program to pay for lower income college students’ junior and senior years’ tuition if they obtain their teaching certification and teach in shortage areas for five years.
Gerry’s work to improve access and support for higher education has been recognized as Legislator of the Year by The Washington Student Association an unprecedented two years in a row, and by the UW Graduate and Professional Student Senate.
As a faculty member at the UW School of Public Health and Vice-Chair of the House Higher Education Committee, Gerry sees the incredible burden of high student loan debts and high drop-out rates due to our still far too high tuition levels and lack of advising and other support for students. Gerry has led efforts to lower tuition, increase student aid and support for our colleges and universities. Working closely with AFT and WEA, Gerry developed legislation which passed the House this year to address the unfair low pay and working conditions faced by community college faculty.
The White House is looking to Rep. Pollet’s Free Community College proposed legislation – “The Washington Promise,” developed with seatmate Senator David Frockt and Senator Pramila Jayapal, as a national model.
In his first year in the Legislature, Gerry led the successful effort to save college work-study from being eliminated as proposed in Governor Gregoire’s budget. This year, the House passed Gerry’s legislation to protect students at for-profit colleges from outrageous loans, closing programs, and false claims made to entice students to enroll in programs with tuition that costs far more than similar programs at our state community and technical colleges. Gerry will be leading a facilitated dialogue on how to regulate the for-profit colleges during 2016.
Ensuring Clean Air and Water
Gerry Pollet is not afraid of tough challenges. In his first session, he immediately started working with environmental groups to pass the “Toxic Free Kids Act” leading the tough questioning in committee of the chemical industry’s claims that toxins were at safe levels in shampoos, bottles, bedding and other products. Gerry is a leader in the Legislature for our state to tackle climate change and invest in safe, renewable energy.
Gerry has developed first in the US legislation to enable you to know when untested, toxic or carcinogenic artificial food additives and packaging are used for the food you feed your family.
As Director of Heart of America Northwest, Gerry works year around to advocate for cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Here in the 46th, Gerry has led research and education efforts to ensure that radioactive contamination left by the Navy in Seattle’s Magnuson Park gets cleaned up; and, to protect swimmers and fishers from dioxin in north Lake Washington.