FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (3/3/10)--Washington State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-37) has been awarded the national credit union system's Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award.
The award recognizes her seven years of legislative leadership and innovation in financial literacy. Santos is the only state lawmaker in the nation to receive the 2009 award, which will be presented to her at an upcoming banquet. Santos, a member of the state Insurance, Financial Services and Consumer Protection Committee, first sponsored legislation in 2003 (HB 2009) requiring that financial education be added to the Washington schools' curriculum. It was an uphill battle, with few colleagues understanding the importance of financial literacy education in public schools. The bill failed, but during the next five years, Santos worked to educate lawmakers. The 2003 bill was followed in 2004 with HB 2455, which created the Financial Literacy Public Private Partnership (FLPPP)--now called the Financial Education Public Private Partnership (FEPPP). In 2006, SB 6386 provided the FLPPP with $50,000 in funding. "Without Rep. Santos' unwavering leadership, the public-private partnership would never have gotten off the ground in such a timely fashion, much less received state funding," said Washington Credit Union League President/CEO John Annaloro. "Washington can be proud of this state legislator." In 2007, Gov. Chris Gregoire included the $50,000 appropriation in her budget. Santos sponsored further legislation that expanded the partnership's responsibilities. "2007 was a milestone year for financial education in Washington thanks to the efforts of Rep. Santos," said Stacy Augustine, league senior vice president and a member of FEPPP. "It really shouldn't come as a surprise that as the economy declined, public interest and recognition of the importance of financial literacy have increased." In 2008, as the national economy began wavering, the legislature and educators looked to FEPPP for leadership. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction began working with FEPPP to officially make financial education part of the state social studies standards in seventh grade. FLPPP, chaired by Santos, adopted content standards for personal finance for the state and developed a communication plan to reach teachers, parents, legislators and the media. Its professional development plan created a five-day teacher training workshop and specialist designation for teachers in financial education. Also in 2008, the state legislature passed SB 6272, expanding financial literacy through education and counseling to promote greater homeownership security. Santos served on a new financial literacy workgroup which made recommendations to the governor for legislative enactment in 2009. The group recommended a wide reaching, comprehensive approach to promote and education the public about financial literacy issues. Santos remains chairman of the FEPPP, which is creating a financial education specialist designation for Washington teachers.