Governor Chris Gregoire’s revenue proposals are a step in the right direction. If passed by voters in March, a half-penny sales tax increase would help protect children from further harm. Closing tax loopholes makes our state government more accountable and makes sure wealthy interests do their part to build a healthy future.
Still, even if all of the tax changes Gov. Gregoire is advocating are enacted, they would still fall short of protecting crucial education, health care and public safety programs. And that would put children at risk.
More kids will be hungry if State Food Assistance (SFA) is eliminated, as the Governor’s budget proposes. SFA helps thousands of children get the food they need to grow up healthy and strong. Food stamps for many lawfully residing immigrant families would disappear – at a time when hunger has nearly doubled. That means more immigrant families will fall back on a private charitable network that’s already reeling from overwhelming demand.
Working Connections and Seasonal Child Care keep parents at work in a time of persistently high unemployment. The Governor on Monday proposed to again restrict access to these programs. That would be a counterproductive decision, since working parents can’t earn a living without child care they can afford. Working Connections keeps children learning in one place, with the same licensed caregiver: a crucial form of stability for kids in uncertain times.
Gov. Gregoire also proposed harmful changes to the state’s income support program for low-income families, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which would force more households off their only source of income. The proposed budget would also completely eliminate State Family Assistance; like SFA, it assists immigrant families and others who are ineligible for federal help. This is yet another example of how budget proposals disproportionately hurt low-income families and children of color.
The Governor chose to fully protect Apple Health for Kids, a nationally recognized health coverage program that is helping 4 out of 10 Washington children see a doctor or dentist when they need one. All kids deserve a chance to be healthy.
We’ll be working to help lawmakers make the right choices in coming weeks. Please join us in this effort at Have a Heart for Kids Day for Special Session on Friday, Dec. 2, where children will issue a proclamation on behalf of their peers in every corner of our state. There will be special opportunities to speak with legislators afterward.
Photo above right by Tegra Stone Nuess.