Early learning advocates recognize lawmakers in Shelton and Anacortes for prioritizing early learning, and one Monroe resident says Head Start is key in building a strong foundation for success. In other state news, The Seattle Times endorses Initiative 502 to boost marijuana regulation and state revenue, one legislator says Initiative 1185 threatens a balanced approach to the state budget, and education advocates challenge the legislature’s supermajority vote on taxes in Supreme Court. As health care reform advances in Washington, candidates for Governor weigh in on whether extending health coverage helps or hurts our state.
The Grays Harbor Early Learning Coalition, the Mason County Early Learning Coalition and the Early Learning Action Alliance are proud to recognize Sen. Jim Hargrove (24th - Hoquiam), Sen. Derek Kilmer (26th - Gig Harbor) and Rep. Kathy Haigh (25th - Shelton) for their outstanding work in helping more children access early learning opportunities. This Friday, Sept. 21, each will be presented with a Crayon Award.
Unfortunately, there are many children in the state of Washington entering kindergarten completely unprepared. These at-risk children enter the public school system behind and most never catch up. Many end up dropping out, in prison or on public assistance. The lucky ones receive intervention and special services from the school district, which come at a heavy price to taxpayers. Thankfully, there is a program designed to help these children and their families to become successful in school and in life. Head Start gives children far more than an education. It is a comprehensive program that allows children an opportunity for emotional growth and social maturation. By reaching out to these children and their families at an early age, Head Start is able to give them the tools they need to build a strong foundation they can build on for the rest of their lives.
Parents may ask whether I-502 will make marijuana more available to their teenage children. The answer is to compare marijuana with beer. For teenagers, both are illegal — and available. But which is more easily available, the one that is banned or the one that is regulated? For more than 40 years, the one more easily available to teenagers has been the one that is banned. Marijuana prohibition does not work. The better policy is to legalize it, license it, regulate it and tax it.
State Legislators Debate Eyman’s 1185 | Publicola | 09-25-2012
In addition to getting theoretical (quoting Alexander Hamilton and the Federalist Papers, which asserted that ”the fundamental principle of free government is reversed under supermajority”), Seattle state Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36) also talked about the practical implications of the rule during the recession, a time when college “tuition has doubled” and social services are “imploding” because the legislature “has no flexibility whatsoever.” “Under two-thirds,” Carlyle argued, “the only modifications made to our budget are exclusively cuts. This is a radical, very aggressive move that shuts down the ability of the legislature to look in a thoughtful, measured way at a more balanced approach.” Another practical impact? A double standard for passing tax loopholes—more than 600 of them exist in the state—and repealing them. “It requires a simple majority to create a tax exemption, but two-thirds to eliminate that same tax exemption,” Carlyle said.
Court weighs constitutionality of Wash. tax rule | MyNorthwest.com | 09-25-2012
Advocates believe the state Constitution says lawmakers can pass taxes with a simple majority. They argue that the voter-approved rule has prevented the state from adequately funding education and other areas of government. … The arguments come as the Supreme Court has also told the Legislature that it is not adequately funding education. Observers believe the state needs between $3 billion and $4 billion to fulfill its constitutional promise to fully pay for basic education — and one solution on the table is to increase taxes. A lower court agreed with their assertion against the supermajority and the state Supreme Court has expedited its consideration of the two-thirds requirement.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee reinforced his support for the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid on Thursday as he released his health policy positions. Inslee said it's possible to provide better care to more people while still saving money. The state government can save between $667 million and $988 million between 2014 and 2019 through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he said. “Reining in health care costs is one of the most important tasks facing every government, every family and every business in this country,” said Inslee. “At the same time, I believe — and so do most Washingtonians — that people should be able to see a doctor no matter what their income. Making sure everyone can get the care they need is part of the social compact we make as citizens, and a crucial step to stemming spiraling costs.” The ACA will help families that currently have insurance, Inslee said, predicting it will eliminate the cost shift from the uninsured to the insured.
… [N]ot only can Washington State afford it but, according to the Urban Institute, Washington state will save almost a billion dollars by fully implementing the ACA and expanding Medicaid. Even former state Sen. Dino Rossi, in the very document used to support McKenna’s assertion, acknowledges at one point that Medicaid expansion will have a “direct cost relatively small to the state.” Second, the “private investments” referred to by McKenna generally aren’t being made in the first place. We’re talking about covering folks who aren’t receiving any medical insurance. And, if these low-income folks have employer coverage of some sort, the switch to Medicaid would help small businesses to redirect money previously spent on health insurance to hiring more employees.
At the Northwest’s three state capitals, just a handful of Latinos hold state office. That’s according to a database of the region’s elected officials we’ve assembled. But this year, Latino voters have an edge for the first time in one of the Northwest’s major Hispanic hubs. Redistricting gave them a majority. You might think the Latino candidate there would now be a shoo-in. Not so. The restaurant El Ranchito is a popular meeting place in Zillah, Wash. In the back, Ricardo Gonzalez pounds and twists dough into horn shaped pastries called “cuernitos” from his native Michoacan, Mexico. Gonzalez has lived here for the last 13 years. He’s part of a boom in the Yakima Valley’s Latino population. And though it’s visible in local food and music, Gonzalez says he hasn’t seen it in local politics. Ricardo Gonzalez: "It’s very important that we have voices in high places. People who can represent and support the Hispanic community."
Across the board, graduation rates are not where they should be. We should push for a graduation rate of at least 90 percent. But for kids of color, the low rates are devastating in terms of lost potential. A thoughtful approach to raising graduating rates would take a hard look at school discipline and suspension rates. Schools push out too many black and Latino boys and young men under the excuse of strict discipline. Too often the kids getting suspended are poor and facing huge challenges at home. They tend to be the ones who can least afford to miss school. It is not unreasonable to expect good behavior in class. Indeed it is the only way to ensure strong teaching and learning. But showing students the door is taking the easy way out. It locks those students out of an education system that is supposed to prepare them to compete in a 21st-century economy.
In Clark County, between 30 and 50 percent of kindergartners (it varies depending on the school) begin school without the skills they need, said Debbie Ham, executive director of SELF (Support for Early Learning & Families). They can identify letters and know their names, but they don't know how to listen or manage their behaviors. They aren't prepared to learn, she said. "It's really important that we lay that early foundation," Ham said.
We analyzed data from the nine California counties with the highest numbers of communities of color — Alameda, Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Santa Clara — to better understand how living with higher rates of poverty and unsafe school conditions may impact children’s health and academic achievement. Not surprisingly, we found that children in low-income areas, particularly in communities of color, experience higher drop-out rates and are more likely to be overweight or obese. The fact sheets include policy recommendations that focus on issues such as reducing violence, improving access to healthy foods, and enhancing mental health services in schools.
Limits Placed on Immigrants in Health Care Law | New York Times | 09-17-2012
The White House has ruled that young immigrants who will be allowed to stay in the United States as part of a new federal policy will not be eligible for health insurance coverage under President Obama’s health care overhaul. The decision — disclosed last month, to little notice — has infuriated many advocates for Hispanic Americans and immigrants. They say the restrictions are at odds with Mr. Obama’s recent praise of the young immigrants. In June, the president announced that hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children, attended school here and met other requirements would be allowed to remain in the country without fear of deportation. Immigrants granted such relief would ordinarily meet the definition of “lawfully present” residents, making them eligible for government subsidies to buy private insurance, a central part of the new health care law. But the administration issued a rule in late August that specifically excluded the young immigrants from the definition of “lawfully present.”
The Ryan budget passed by the House of Representatives not only would do nothing to help or decrease epidemic poverty, hunger and homelessness during this time of economic downturn and parental joblessness, it would increase their struggles by taking away food and other essential supports. Ryanomics is an all out assault on our poorest children while asking not a dime of sacrifice from the richest two percent of Americans or from wealthy corporations.