Coming from Washington's hi-tech sector, Maria knows the potential Washington businesses have to provide quality jobs and products, and what they need to thrive. In the Senate, she's helped Washington's small businesses weather tough economic times by championing increased lending, tax cuts, and opening new markets for Washington products.
Washington has been a global leader in aerospace for almost a century and it is one of the state's largest manufacturing industries, supporting thousands of working families. Maria is making sure it remains a leader by working to make Washington the nation's center of aerospace research. She helped create a Center of Excellence for research and training in the use of advanced materials for commercial airplanes at the University of Washington and she's promoted programs to prepare local workers to succeed in the industry. Her work to jumpstart the Washington biofuels industry has left the state poised to lead the world's aviation biofuels industry. Maria has also fought to end European Union (EU) government subsidies that have given the French company Airbus an unfair advantage in markets throughout the world, putting Washington jobs at risk.
Maria is also one of the strongest voices for small businesses in the Senate. When President Obama announced in his 2010 State of the Union his intention to unfreeze capital for community banks to help small businesses, she demanded the administration do it immediately by executive order. When her call went unanswered, Maria championed legislation to use repaid bailout funds to create a $30 billion lending fund to be tapped solely by the community banks small businesses rely on for loans to hire workers and grow. Maria, who opposed the Wall Street bailout, fought hard to dispel the false attacks made by Republicans that the plan was just another bailout by reaching out directly to the small business job creators across Washington state who needed the money the most. The bill was signed into law and in July, 2011 UniBank in Lynnwood became one of the first banks in the nation to benefit from this funding. Hailing the good news for UniBank, which loans to small businesses in King and Snohomish counties, Maria said "This recession began on Wall Street, but only Main Street can end it."
Maria supports the active labor groups and union members that build the foundation of Washington's work force. In 2006, she stood with labor groups in helping to defeat legislation that would override Washington state's minimum wage and slash earnings for wage workers who rely on tips. Then, she worked hard to pass the first federal minimum wage increase in ten years. Maria also helped pass bipartisan legislation to protect worker pensions and close loopholes to better ensure employees have access upon retirement to the pensions they were promised when they started their jobs. Finally, Maria is a strong voice for workers impacted by foreign competition and is standing against cuts to the Trade Adjustment Assistance program which helped over 5,000 Washington workers in 2010 retrain for jobs to thrive in the 21st century global economy.
Another key component to ensuring the success of Washington's economy is controlling our debt and making fiscal responsibility the norm in the other Washington. Maria supports restoring pay-as-you-go rules to require new spending and tax cuts be paid for instead of adding to the federal deficit.
While Maria has fought to create good-paying jobs and reduce the burden on future generations, she's also making sure working families have the help they need during the rough economy. She passed legislation to temporarily allow Washingtonians to deduct state sales taxes on their federal tax returns to keep more money in their pockets, and is working to make that deduction permanent. She's worked to lower energy bills for working families through clean energy advocacy and is fighting to crack down on oil market manipulation driving up prices at the gas pump. And, to make sure Washington's workers are the best in the world, Maria has pushed to make education affordable and provide working families with quality health care.