OLYMPIA -- Gov. Jay Inslee voiced his commitment to legislation helping Washington Latinos during Monday's "Latino Legislative Day" in Olympia.
Inslee gave the keynote address at the event, held annually by the Latino Civic Alliance. "Change does not happen by accident," he said.
Inslee mentioned the Washington Voting Rights Act, which promotes equal voting opportunities, and the state's implementation of Obamacare, which he said has provided at least 300,000 new people with health care, including thousands of Latinos.
More than a dozen state legislators -- including Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima -- also spoke to a crowd of more than 200 people filling the capitol building rotunda.
Many of them shouted "S se puede," a Spanish phrase loosely translating to "yes we can." It was the motto of the United Farm Workers and is a common rallying cry at immigration reform protests.
Other legislators spoke of the fight against human trafficking, closing the educational opportunity gap, and immigration reform.
Diego Enriquez, a freshman student at Everett Community College, said hearing legislators voice their support of Latino students and their goals is appreciated.
Sen. King spoke of the Real Hope Act -- the state Senate's version of the federal Dream Act -- which provides an additional $5 million in funding for college financial aid, including to students who aren't currently eligible because they aren't legal U.S. residents.
The legislation only provides the chance for dreams to take place, King said. The decision to achieve them rests upon the individual.
"It's up to you," King told the crowd. "Do you really want an education, and are you willing to work for it?"
Reforms like the Real Hope Act, he said, are part of the goal of removing roadblocks to success.
-- Tri-City Herald intern Matt Benoit is a Washington State University student: 509-947-9277, firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Matt_Benoit_