Artificial Intelligence

2024 Washington state legislative priorities

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A pivotal time

In step with our dedication to transparency relating to Microsoft’s public coverage priorities, we yearly share our legislative agenda for the approaching yr. This yr, that agenda is prefaced by two main milestones.

First, this would be the final legislative session of Jay Inslee’s tenure as Governor of Washington. Microsoft thanks him, his administration, and the legislators with whom he has partnered over the previous 12 years, for his or her many contributions to the well being and well-being, vitality, and future success of our state. Throughout Gov. Inslee’s administration, Washington confronted the unprecedented problem of a world pandemic, an occasion that modified all of us. However our state additionally made main investments in housing, infrastructure, schooling, and clear vitality – together with passing essentially the most complete local weather coverage of any state. These are investments that can profit generations to come back.

We have now one other main milestone on the horizon: Microsoft’s 50th anniversary as an organization, which we are going to have a good time in April 2025. Over its historical past, our firm advanced from promoting packaged software program to offering digital companies to making a related cloud computing atmosphere to now being a pacesetter in each the event of generative AI and in serving to to ascertain a basis for the accountable use of synthetic intelligence expertise.

Like every thing, we owe our means to develop to the atmosphere during which we sit. For Microsoft, our house is Washington state. It’s not an exaggeration to say that our success as we now have advanced over our historical past has relied on selections like these made by Gov. Inslee and present legislative leaders, and by those that have come earlier than them. These public leaders have labored to create an atmosphere centered on innovation, progress, and fairness. This strategy has helped place each Microsoft and the area as leaders in a spread of game-changing applied sciences like AI and cloud computing, quantum computing, and hydrogen vitality manufacturing and fusion. Collectively, we are actually on the forefront of the worldwide financial system.

Briefly, Microsoft has grown and thrived as a result of we’re situated in a state that has created the situations permitting our firm and lots of others to develop and thrive.

Bedrock commitments

Given this historical past, and with each our company and a few 50,000 of our workers calling Washington residence, we stay dedicated to seeing the Pacific Northwest preserve its aggressive financial place globally, guarantee equitable financial alternatives, and supply a top quality of life for everybody dwelling right here. These are the foundational targets we bear in mind as we proceed our long-standing coverage partnerships and investments in schooling, housing, transportation, and financial alternative.

Schooling and skilling

Each financial alternative and high quality of life start with job. Greater than ever, rewarding and satisfying job alternatives require abilities and credentials past a highschool diploma. This contains high-demand fields like computing and well being care. The truth is, the newest estimates are that 72% of the roles sooner or later would require some type of post-secondary credential, however solely 40% of Washington highschool college students earn such a credential by age 26.

In response to those tendencies, we now have two coverage priorities for the 2024 session: We should proceed to broaden rigorous laptop science schooling in any respect ranges – Okay-12, neighborhood and technical schools, and our four-year public universities; and we should improve enrollment in all method of post-secondary schooling for Washington college students in order that Washington college students are ready for Washington jobs.

For context, legislators have made important commitments to create pathways for all college students to pursue these credentials; we rank second within the nation in monetary help availability, with a broad vary of applications starting from the Washington Faculty Grant to the distinctive public-private partnership that funds the Washington State Alternative Scholarship. Sadly, these assets aren’t being totally utilized; we’re second-to-last within the nation for scholar completion of the FAFSA kind that’s required to safe many sources of help.

Thus, we encourage legislative and schooling leaders to:

  • Proceed investing funds from the lately created Workforce Schooling Funding Account in data-driven methods to extend post-high college credential attainment
  • Determine further methods to construct public consciousness and supply high quality counseling so college students and their households perceive the necessity for post-secondary credentials and the assorted pathways obtainable to earn them
  • Present wrap-around help companies, corresponding to these requested by the College of Washington of their legislative bundle, for all college students, and particularly grownup learners, to assist them full their applications of research and attain the credentials they should pursue rewarding careers
  • Broaden Profession Join Washington’s work-related studying experiences, which assist open college students’ eyes to the profession alternatives that lie forward of them
Housing for all

One other key part of high quality of life is protected and steady housing that’s reasonably priced and handy to jobs, companies, and neighborhood. Put merely, we’d like extra housing of every kind and for all earnings ranges, throughout Washington – and particularly within the Puget Sound area.

In its 2023 session, the legislature made substantial progress in help of that objective: A billion {dollars} in new housing investments had been made, together with the historic investments within the Housing Belief Fund and the growth of the Land Acquisition Program overseen by the Washington State Housing Finance Fee, a program that Microsoft was proud to help with three-to-one matching funds and that’s already producing outcomes. Further progress was made in eradicating zoning and different regulatory obstacles to the creation of recent housing choices. However a Division of Commerce evaluation reveals that Washington nonetheless wants a further a million housing models over the subsequent twenty years; this isn’t an issue that appeared in a single day, and it’s not an issue that may be solved in a single yr. So, lawmakers should proceed to pursue a variety of further housing methods to deal with the rising demand for and rising price of housing.

Along with spurring housing development and considerably growing the availability of housing, we should additionally take steps to deal with different impacts of the housing scarcity. Homelessness, coupled with the opioid disaster and different behavioral well being points, has led to unprecedented challenges for the state’s emergency rooms, that are being overrun. Problem Seattle has issued a report that features a collection of suggestions for responding to this emergency, and we’re asking the legislature to evaluation and undertake these methods.

Transferring folks and items

Transportation is vital to sustaining regional financial competitiveness, supporting sustainable progress, and preserving and enhancing our native high quality of life. The following main transportation funds will probably be developed in 2025. Prematurely of that, nonetheless, there are key selections to be made round current tasks, specifically making certain well timed completion of the 520 bridge hall venture.

We additionally made some progress shifting high-speed rail nearer to actuality after we acquired recognition and an preliminary grant from the Federal Hall Identification Program. This places us in line for extra federal funding and it’s vital that we protect the matching state {dollars} within the present transportation funds to leverage these federal investments.

Clear vitality

In 2020, when Microsoft introduced its dedication to grow to be carbon unfavorable by 2030, we pledged to additionally grow to be energetic members in public coverage discussions to emphasise the unbreakable hyperlink between electrical energy coverage and carbon coverage and assist advance international decarbonization efforts

We should work collectively to get as a lot agency, inexperienced energy onto the facility grid as shortly as potential. This can require taking a tough have a look at our allowing and siting processes and figuring out methods to make them extra environment friendly, in order that inexperienced assets might be introduced on line extra shortly. Use of digital instruments, together with synthetic intelligence, have to be thought of to additional enhance useful resource siting and allowing processes.

In the end, we can’t afford to give attention to a single resolution; we’d like an “all the above” strategy to plotting our clear vitality future. Along with hydro, photo voltaic, wind, and different vitality sources historically thought of renewable, the state should now flip its consideration to persevering with to meaningfully advancing analysis and growth of nuclear and fusion as potential sources of protected and plentiful vitality.

AI

Microsoft is a expertise firm and immediately, we’re collectively in a brand new age of motive, powered by expertise, led by folks, and fueled by innovation. We’re additionally at an inflection level and a singular AI second. How we handle and reply to fast advances in synthetic intelligence is vital to our collective future.

Simply as new applied sciences will redefine the transportation and vitality sectors, synthetic intelligence will redefine how expertise serves all of us, advancing humanity’s means to suppose, motive, and categorical ourselves. We’re impressed by the huge potential of AI growth to help public good; we’re equally life like concerning the threat of the expertise being utilized in dangerous methods. As such, Microsoft has been and can stay a pacesetter in advocating for the accountable use of AI. Our perspective on this subject, as an organization that has been engaged on these points straight for a lot of years, is contained in our most up-to-date Rules for Accountable AI. We are going to work with the governor, legislators, and different elected officers as they have interaction in coverage deliberations, and we are going to help accountable approaches that promote innovation and alternative for Washington state.

As we sit up for the 2024 legislative session, we’re energized by how lawmakers’ previous selections have positioned Washington state for fulfillment, and we’re much more optimistic concerning the alternatives that lie forward.

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