In this edition, you'll find stories and editorials about continued efforts to balance the state budget, including how Oregon voters’ approval of a tax hike has given some Washington lawmakers hope that they’ll be able to raise new revenue to protect vital state services. You'll also read about the rise in the number of Washington families struggling to put food on the table and efforts to unionize certain child care workers.
Gov. Chris Gregoire and top Democrats in the Legislature
warmly welcomed Oregon's vote Tuesday that upheld more than $700
million in tax increases on high earners and businesses, while
Republicans discounted it. Leaders of the two parties at the Washington
state Capitol differed on the significance of a pro-tax public vote as
they look to close a $2.6 billion budget gap.
As state lawmakers search for ways to fill a $2.6 billion
budget hole, environmentalists are dangling what they hope will be a
tempting new tax idea. They're pushing to as much as triple the state's
"hazardous-substance tax" on petroleum, pesticides and other chemicals
— an increase that could bring in an extra $250 million a year.
It would be a palatable idea even in good times: Remove the
exemption to the state sales tax from candy and gum, and dedicate the
proceeds to critical public health programs that have been decimated in
recent years. Creating a dedicated funding stream, even a relatively
modest one, is a good idea — especially one with such a rational link.
Almost one in five households in Washington State, including
those with children, reported they didn’t have enough money to buy the
food they needed in 2009. According to a new report released by the
Food Research and Action Center, an average of 23 percent of families
across the state are having difficulties feeding their families and
those with children, the report stated, are harder hit.
The House has re-passed a bill that would allow certain child
care workers the right to unionize. Reps. Pettigrew and Goodman (and
others) said allowing child care workers to unionize will increase the
reimbursement rate so that it more closely reflects the costs of
providing child care. They each said that would, in turn, improve the
level of care and, for that reason, the bill is an important part of
early childhood education and closing the achievement gap before it
Can something as simple as the timing of recess make a
difference in a child’s health and behavior? Some experts think it can,
and now some schools are rescheduling recess — sending students out to
play before they sit down for lunch. The switch appears to have led to
some surprising changes in both cafeteria and classroom.
On the day she gave birth, Kimberly Hays was shackled to a bed
with a nurse's hand over her mouth to muffle her screams of pain, the
former inmate told state lawmakers Tuesday. Hays, who was serving time
at the Washington Corrections Center for Women on drug charges,
testified Tuesday before the state Senate Human Services and
Corrections Committee. The panel is considering a measure that would
restrict the use of restraints, including handcuffs and leg shackles,
on pregnant inmates.