We’re glad the Senate voted down House Resolution 1 (H.R. 1) on Wednesday — the first step in budget negotiations between the House and the Senate after it passed in House a few weeks ago.
Some senators, including Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell, recognized that the cuts outlined in H.R. 1 would compromise the health of millions, especially our youngest children.
But this is just the beginning.
The House and Senate have until March 18 to negotiate a budget that’s good for kids, and the ball is in the Senate’s court. Let’s hope the Senate’s new proposal reflects what Sen. Patty Murray said during her floor speech on Tuesday:
“Our nation’s budget is a statement of our values, our priorities and our vision for what kind of country we will be handing off to our children and our grandchildren.”
Without a balanced approach to the budget, here’s what’s at stake for kids.
H.R. 1 in Washington state
The H.R. 1 budget proposes eliminating more than $60 billion nationally and about $1 billion in Washington state through September 30. While this proposal was rejected by the Senate, advocates across the country predict these proposed cuts are what lawmakers will work from to form a new budget. Here’s what a $1 billion cut means for Washington’s kids:
Children’s health advances in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could be lost. H.R. 1 would prohibit the use of any appropriated funds for ACA. This could threaten protections for children and parents.
Prenatal care would also take a hit, with H.R. 1 reducing $8 million for newborn hearing screenings, children’s emergency medical services, and kids’ autism programs.
Together, these cuts are steps back from the progress we’ve made as a state for children’s health.
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) lose health and nutrition services. More than 43,000 women, infants and children in our state are served by WIC, which provides nutritious food, nutrition counseling, health assessment and referrals.
WIC has reduced the number of premature and low-birth weight babies in our state, improving children’s overall development, including vocabularies and memories. It also saves an average of $3 in Medicaid costs for every dollar invested.
H.R. 1 cuts $747.2 million from the current funding level of $6.5 billion, an 8.6 percent reduction leaving little room through the end of September to respond to an increase in needy families or larger-than-projected food prices.
This would deprive young children of sustenance at a time when hunger has spiked in Washington by 36 percent since 2009.
Early learners would lose opportunity. Head Start, Early Head Start and child care programs proven to build cognitive and character skills that drive success are on the chopping block, too. The cuts proposed would mean that 2,989 low-income children in Washington would be pulled out of Head Start and Early Head Start and 5,000 of them would lose child care.
Additionally, this would eliminate 1,009 positions for teachers and staff across the state, compounding the effects of the recession.
The cuts proposed in H.R. 1 could resurface in other budget proposals likely to roll out over the next few weeks. This would pose an immediate and long-term burden on already struggling children and families.
We urge our federal lawmakers to make balanced and careful budget choices that serve the needs of all children and families.