Political Progress for Women Being Made in Washington State

December 30, 2008

Governor Chris Gregoire has made remarkable progress in involving women in the political process in Washington (state).  And the results are there to show that her policy and personnel decisions are making a positive impact on Washington’s economy and overall well-being of its citizens.  Read this post from the Washington Women’s Political Caucus Website:

Through the Eyes of Women: Governor Gregoire’s Top 20 August 27, 2008

1) Leading with Women
51% of Governor Gregoire’s Cabinet members are women- the highest percentage ever recorded by a United States Governor. Indeed, if we were a country, Washington State would be third in the world in terms of its representation of appointed women.   

2) Making Women’s Voices Heard
46% of the Board and Commission members appointed by Governor Gregoire are women.

3) Putting Women at the Policy Table 
50% of Governor Gregoire’s policy staff are women.

4) Putting Our Young Children First 
Governor Gregoire’s top priority is that all children arrive at school ready to learn. Indeed, her focus on early learning led her to consolidate Washington’s scattered early learning and child care programs into one cabinet-level agency, the Department of Early Learning, led by Director Jone Bosworth. The Governor also convened Thrive by Five, a public-private partnership to distribute millions in grants that promote literacy and early reading skills of children ages birth-to-five in diverse communities across Washington. 

5) Investing the Most in Students 
Governor Gregoire’s 2007-2009 budget includes an increase of nearly $900 per student in Kindergarten through 12th grade funding and a $2.5 billion overall increase in education funding – the most dramatic increase in education funding in Washington history. The Governor’s goal: change educational expectations, delivery and results from early learning through K-12 to insure higher education and job training.

6) Helping Developmentally Disabled Family Members Live at Home 
Governor Gregoire expanded funding for families to help them get the respite care, specialized equipment or other services that enable their developmentally disabled family member to live at home. Her 2007-2009 budget also helps people with developmental disabilities find jobs so that they are more self-sufficient and expands supports to people caring for their elderly family members.

7) Providing Health Coverage for Uninsured Children 
Her first move in taking office was to place more children on health insurance plans. Governor Gregoire has now provided health insurance access to 84,000 Washington children.

8) Ensuring Medicaid Coverage for Our Babies – Regardless of Immigration Status
When nearly 8,000 infant citizens in Washington faced the prospect of being denied health coverage because of their parents’ immigration status, Governor Gregoire filed suit against the federal government to protect the constitutional rights of newborn citizens to health care coverage under Medicaid. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services soon relented, and Governor Gregoire earned a victory for newborns and their families across the country.

9) Helping Us Pay for Prescription Drugs
At the request of Governor Gregoire, the Legislature created the Washington Prescription Drug Program, a new, free prescription drug discount program open to all Washington residents who do not have prescription drug coverage or whose insurance does not cover all their prescription drug needs. 

10) Providing Information to Parents about the HPV Vaccine
Last May, Governor Gregoire signed legislation that requires public schools to give parents and guardian’s information about the vaccine and human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, and its vaccine. The bill also requires private schools in Washington to inform parents that HPV information is available from the Washington Department of Health. 

11) Guaranteeing Accurate Sex Education
Public schools will now be required to teach medically accurate sex education. The program must be age appropriate for students regardless of gender, race, disability status or sexual orientation. It must also include information about abstinence and other methods of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, specifically contraceptives. 

12) Ensuring Access to Emergency Contraception
When the State Board of Pharmacy determined that Pharmacists could choose not to offer emergency contraception, Governor Gregoire refused to accept it. She worked with the state Board of Pharmacy until they ensured that all women would have access to legal prescriptions, including emergency contraception, as long as the prescriptions are in stock.

13) Giving Parents the Best Advice in Choosing Child Care Programs
Governor Gregoire wants parents to have the best information available when choosing child care programs, so she has asked the Department of Early Learning to develop a quality rating and improvement system for child care programs. She has also increased pay for child care workers and improved the regulation of child care by focusing on keeping children safe and raising early learning outcomes.

14) Making Education a National Agenda for Change
Among the most coveted of all National Governor’s Association posts is the Chair of the Education Committee which Governor Gregoire now chairs. She is dedicated to bringing a sane national voice to education. Governor Gregoire is one of nine women governors in the country. 

15) Getting More Students into College
The Governor succeeded in increasing access to state colleges and universities by nearly 10,000 slots, establishing the GET Ready for Math and Science and Washington College Bound scholarship programs, providing Opportunity Grants to educate students for local jobs, expanding eligibility for State Need Grants, and capping tuition increases at colleges and universities.

16) Making Communities Safer 
Governor Gregoire supported and signed into law a measure to make communities safer by requiring that each offender have a plan for employment and treatment prior to their release from Washington prisons and be held accountable to those plans and community supervision. 

17) Increasing Women’s Business Opportunities
Despite the many leads Washington has in women’s equality, we still lag behind in terms of women’s opportunities in business, especially small business. Governor Gregoire has extended opportunities to women through her Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises and her Supplier Diversity initiative as well as prioritizing investments in women through the state’s network of Small Business Development Centers. 

18) Cleaning up Puget Sound
Governor Gregoire wants Puget Sound waters to be clean so that families can swim in it, fish in it and dig shellfish from it. This year, she signed legislation to protect and restore the Puget Sound, creating the Puget Sound Partnership to oversee the restoration of the environmental health of the Puget Sound by 2020.

19) Supporting Foster Parents
In what was billed as one of the most important years for foster kids, Governor Gregoire this past year took aim at helping foster kids and foster parents. Parents in child welfare cases will now have priority in receiving services necessary to provide a safe home for their children. Foster parents will now be given a right to be heard in dependency proceedings and regular meetings with child welfare agency managers. And more qualifying foster kids will receive scholarships for college education.

20) Ensuring Mental Health Parity
In 1999, the Surgeon General estimated our businesses lose $70 million a year because their employees do not have mental health coverage through their insurance. So, Governor Gregoire signed into law a measure that will treat mental illnesses with the same attention of other ailments of the body

And here’s an extra bonus for all the women in business. 

BONUS REASON: Since Governor Gregoire has been in office, no state has attracted more new business per capita than Washington State. Forbes Magazine just rated us the fifth best place for business in the country, noting a whopping $2.6 billion in venture capital investments. And don’t forget that this Governor is the one who talked the top leaders of both China and Mexico into coming here on her watch to open doors for new global trade.