As a special education teacher and teacher union representative, Ellen understands the importance of a quality public education system that puts students first, and she will continue to fight for it in Tallahassee. Ellen is a passionate advocate for replacing counterproductive high-stakes standardized testing and implementing standards which produce equitable access to quality education. Ellen understands that there is a place for innovative charter schools and also advocates for fully funded traditional public schools. Ellen will introduce bills that would study best practices for recruiting and retaining quality educators, in part by paying them a nationally competitive wage so that they will be equipped to best help our students to be work or college ready.
Education is key to achievement in an economy which increasingly requires a highly trained workforce. In Tallahassee, Ellen will ensure that students access the support they need to garner skills at Florida’s colleges, universities, and vocational schools to prepare them for the economy they will inherit. Ellen believes in a living wage for all, and she believes that in a state as diverse as Florida, local jurisdictions should be empowered to choose their own living wages to reflect local costs of living and popular preference. By repealing oppressive preemption laws, Ellen will restore home rule so local jurisdictions may choose to raise the minimum wage in jurisdictions where such change makes sense.
Quality healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and Florida’s families deserve the peace of mind that a child’s hospital visit won’t break the bank. That is why Ellen believes in joining 31 other states – both red and blue – in expanding Medicaid. Florida taxpayers pay into Medicaid, but do not benefit from its expansion because our sadistic state legislature has refused to accept billions of dollars of increased federal assistance for Florida families, reprehensibly putting petty politics before Floridians’ healthcare and the state’s pocketbook. With so many facing the impossible choice of paying for a medical bill or putting food on the table, Ellen will support legislation that would expand Medicaid for our state and close the shameful coverage gap for up to 900,000 residents of the Sunshine State.
Climate change is real, it is largely caused by humans, and without state action, it will literally reshape our South Florida communities. To combat climate change, Ellen supports a multi-faceted approach that bans fracking to keep our water safe, extends a ban on offshore drilling to protect our coastline, boosts natural disaster preparedness for high risk neighborhoods, and incentivizes increased use of green energy in the Sunshine State. To restore our precious Everglades and other critical natural treasures, Ellen supports redirecting contaminated Lake Okeechobee water away from our estuaries and waterways to an appropriately designed reservoir and stormwater treatment area south of the Lake, from which Lake water will be treated and allowed to flow south to the Everglades for further filtration, as nature intended. No new taxes will be required for this generation-defining environmental conservation project, as Florida voters already secured the necessary monies through the 2014 Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative. Additionally, the state legislature has imposed preemption laws which prevent local jurisdictions from limiting access to wasteful single use plastic bags and Styrofoam products and from keeping bio-medical waste out of county dumps. Ellen will work to repeal such preemption laws so local jurisdictions may choose to adopt environmentally friendly policies.
Ellen has long been an advocate for sensible legislation that will keep our communities safe, and she applauds much of the Florida legislature's recent actions to address gun violence in the wake of the tragedy. However, like the vast majority of her fellow educators, Ellen does not want armed non-police faculty endangering themselves and students in our schools. Ellen supports closing the gun show loophole, requiring universal background checks, a ban on assault rifles, and a ban on high capacity magazines. We need to do more than send our thoughts and prayers to today’s victims only to see the carnage repeated tomorrow: we must take legislative action to keep all Floridians safe. Ellen recognizes that each community has its own preferences: long police response times often necessitate gun ownership in rural areas, while gun violence plagues some urban areas. Because different communities have different needs, each should have the freedom to decide its own gun laws beyond a statewide baseline. Further legislative action to provide safety to our western and northern Palm Beach County communities will most effectively be accomplished by repealing preemption laws, which prevent local jurisdictions from imposing further gun restrictions in communities which want them.
As part of a dignified life, all residents of District 85 deserve affordable housing. This year Florida will spend less on affordable housing programs than in 1996, even as the state’s population has exploded over the last two decades and housing costs have increased significantly in many areas. In Tallahassee, Ellen will work to make affordable housing more readily available to all, without raising taxes. The State Housing Trust Fund and the Local Housing Trust Fund have been raided by state legislators in recent years, as less than half of the money raised by each has been used for their intended purpose of funding affordable housing. By restoring these funds to their intended purpose, Ellen will allocate much needed funds to provide affordable housing for Florida’s working class.