It’s the worst we’ve seen.
That’s our assessment of new cuts to state services. The across-the-board budget reductions are more severe than anything we’ve experienced recently. They’re also being made in an extremely challenging context.
The budget that was finalized this spring, during the last legislative session, did not anticipate the persistently slow economy. And, rather than our elected representatives deliberating in public over cuts, these decisions are being made by the Governor in consultation with agency secretaries and assistant secretaries. They are decisions as momentous as any made during the last legislative session, only without legislators convening to hear and represent their constituents’ concerns.
The federal government has finally released the guidelines states need to apply for their slice of $1.5 billion in new grant funding for home visiting programs, which connect new and expectant parents with trained nursing and early learning professionals.
The new guidelines issued late last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will allow Washington to apply for up to $1.3 million this year.
The first wave of these grants, part of federal health care reform that became law in March, will go to states this summer.
Over the next few weeks and months, we and our allies on the Washington Home Visiting Coalition will be working with state agencies and stakeholders on a plan for how Washington will use these home visiting funds.
Late last week, the regular legislative session ended, and Governor Jay Inslee called legislators back to work, starting this Wednesday, to accomplish the critical task of writing the next two-year operating budget.
State legislators and engaged Washingtonians have made tremendous progress over the past four months in building the kind of future Washington’s kids deserve. Both chambers of the Legislature passed their respective versions of the Early Start Act, which makes historic investments in the first five years of life.
From the Children's Alliance news page:
Advocates for children and families in Washington applauded the U.S. Senate for passing a bill yesterday that extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years.
The vote follows passage of identical legislation in the House. It demonstrates that members of Congress overwhelmingly support the CHIP program and understand it is vital to keeping kids across the country healthy.
“This vote demonstrates the overwhelming popularity of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and for getting kids the health coverage they need to succeed,” said Jon Gould, deputy director of the Children’s Alliance.
All children deserve a great start in life. But our state’s tax system puts too many of them in harm’s way. Our tax system is:
Inequitable. Washington’s tax system is the most regressive in the nation: Low-income families pay a much higher proportion of their income than do wealthy families. The racial wealth gap means that children of color are also more likely to live in households that bear a disproportionate share of responsibility for our state’s basic services.
Regressive taxation hurts kids of all racial/ethnic backgrounds, because 4 out of 10 Washington children live in a disproportionately tax-burdened low- or moderate-income home.
All children deserve a great start in life. But our state’s tax system puts too many of them in harm’s way.
Revenues as a proportion of the economy have shrunk over the past 15 years, resulting in cuts to basic services. Children in communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by these cuts.
Ending these cuts boosts our economy. Ending the 25 percent cut to State Food Assistance would generate more than $17 million in economic activity through June 2017.
House and Senate budget leaders have each released their guiding documents for state spending over the next two years. Here’s a summary of how they address priorities for Washington’s kids:
Resolving that no child’s future should be hindered by inadequate nutrition, the House would restore full funding to food assistance for qualified immigrant families. The Senate maintains funding at current levels, 25 percent less than federal food stamps.
Our public policies—the laws, budgets, rules and other decisions of elected representatives—can either help kids succeed or put obstacles in their path. Racial equity assessment tools can shape our public choices so that they enhance every child’s access to opportunity.
Home visiting helps parents get their children off to the best possible start in life. But right now, this highly needed service needs your support.
At the end of March, federal funding for home visiting is set to expire without congressional action to extend the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. MIECHV has allowed an additional 1,300 Washington families to receive home visiting services.
We support the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act in the 2015 Washington State Legislative Session. It is a double win for kids.
Climate stability is good for kids. A warming planet, and related environmental changes, negatively impacts all life and particularly children and families with the fewest resources.