As a mother of four, two of which face mental health challenges, Elizabeth knows the struggle parents face when ensuring that their children are getting a quality education - particularly for those that need additional mental health or disability services. As Delegate for the 31st district, Elizabeth will work to expand funding and opportunities for early childhood education, and will collaborate to foster strategic partnerships with organizations to bring in more programs like Head Start and Early Head Start to the community.
Elizabeth is also committed to working to restore funding for public schools, and to find funding and innovative solutions to deal with the challenge of growing class sizes, high teacher turnover rates, and teacher pay. She strongly supports State Senator Jeremy McPike's initiative to end the stringent SOL requirements the Commonwealth is putting on our students in the public schools.
We need to have more counselors and or licensed social workers in schools. My oldest child is 25 and my youngest is 7. I remember having at least three counselors per school. Nowadays, this field has been affected by school budget reductions sacrificing the opportunity to diagnose students and provide them with the support they need in a timely manner. By increasing the amount of counselors, schools could prepare an assessment on students and refer them to the rights services. Not only that, counselors could also educate their families about the need and importance of treating their children when they are diagnosed early on. Currently, in PWCS the ratio is 1 counselor to 500 students and it is unacceptable.
Partisan decision-making has left 400,000 Virginians without access to critical healthcare services that would have been provided under Medicaid expansion in Virginia. As Delegate, Elizabeth will push for the General Assembly to accept funding for the Medicaid expansion initiative - money that hard-working Virginians have already paid into with their federal tax dollars, that is currently being sent out of state - to offer those critical services to Virginians that are uninsured or underinsured. As a dedicated public servant in the field of human services, Elizabeth has witnessed firsthand the struggles many of these hundreds of thousands of Virginians face because of their inability to access or afford health care services.
Elizabeth believes that no hard-working Virginian should struggle with putting food on the table for their families due to low wages or a lack of economic opportunity. Elizabeth is a strong believer in raising the minimum wage, so that families in the 31st district and across the Commonwealth aren't working 50, 60 hours weeks and still having to choose between paying their bills and feeding their families. For Elizabeth establishing a living wage and promoting economic development is a family issue, because if individuals are making higher wages this will allow them the opportunity to spend more time with their families.
In addition to advocating for an increase in the minimum wage, Elizabeth will work to promote economic development opportunities in Prince William and Fauquier County, so that more residents will be able to work rewarding, high-paying jobs closer to home. Each day Elizabeth commutes more than 45 miles to work, due to the lack of high-paying jobs in Prince William and Fauquier that are competitive with the wages and opportunities of surrounding localities. Along with working to bring quality jobs to the district, Elizabeth will advocate for transportation options and instituting a flat fee for the area's EZ-Pass lanes, to make the lanes more affordable for commuters.
One of Elizabeth's top priorities as Delegate would be protecting Virginia's many beautiful landmarks, natural spaces, and farmland areas. Elizabeth's grandparents were farmers, and this background gives her strong insight on the growing importance of protecting area farmland, and ensuring it will be there for generations to come by promoting agribusiness and agricultural opportunities in the 31st district, and supporting small family farms.
Elizabeth Guzman supports legislation that will issue driver's licenses for all Virginia residents regardless of their Immigration status. This legislation will not only increase Virginia Revenue in the form of property tax, but will also make our roads safer because everyone will have Auto insurance and no one will need to use their Uninsured Motorist coverage. Most importantly, all Virginians will feel that they are part of the community. It is important to mention that all Virginians used to have driver's licenses back in 2001. That privilege was removed after 9/11 attacks.
According to the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans, there are more than 1 million of veterans currently facing homelessness due to many reasons, including shortage of affordable housing in the Northern Virginia, and in some cases veterans are not receiving the support they need to transfer their learned skills during service in the civilian world, pushing them into low-paying jobs that do not pay enough to take care of themselves and their families. Many of them also leave without access to health care and aside from physical ailments and injuries, money of them face struggles post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse. We need to create programs and fund existing efforts to help these veterans who performed a great service for our country. They should not be left behind.
Elizabeth will join the fight of reproductive freedom. She believes that women should be presented with choices. If women are ready to become parents, they should be supported, but if they are not, they should have support systems as well. As a social worker, Elizabeth has seen how many unloved children end up in foster care and adoption. Elizabeth believes that if women are presented with options and support systems those numbers could change and we will more happy families and more happy children.