In this edition, you'll read about federal health care reform's boost to home visiting programs, which pair nurses and early learning professionals with new parents. You’ll also catch a Learning for Life interview with Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar and Laura Wells – state director for Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and a 2009 recipient of our annual Voices for Children award. And you’ll read about legislative gains for early learning and analysis on the final state budget that awaits the governor’s signature.
Every year, there are more than 7,000 confirmed cases of child
abuse and neglect in Washington state. Many police agencies strongly
believe that if we focus more on toy blocks now, we won't need as many
cell blocks later.
While Washington State has a nearly $3 billion budget deficit,
policymakers delivered a decent early learning budget, with the final
plan preserving funding for child care subsidies and making a relatively
small cut in state-supported preschool, according to a new legislative
The Legislature has finally figured out a budget and closed up
shop. The headlines will be about new taxes. But the equation that taxes
are by nature bad doesn’t add up. What do taxes pay for? Schools,
roads, health care, public health, college education, community
colleges, police, firefighters, teachers, parks, recreation … In short,
taxes pay for all the things we depend on for a good quality of life,
family economic security and educational opportunity.
A year after making billions in cuts to state programs,
lawmakers returned to the state capital this year with another ugly
budget problem on their hands. The difference in 2010 was that the
Democratic majority could shake loose the constraints of tax-limiting
Initiative 960 and balance the budget with higher taxes along with
additional cuts, federal money, and accounting maneuvers.
Democratic governors of Massachusetts and Washington State both
have proposed extending their states’ sales taxes to both candy and
sugary drinks, joining the push to treat unhealthy foods in much the
same manner as tobacco and liquor — as vices to be discouraged through
the tax code. Another big area of activity revolves around candy.
Gov. Chris Gregoire vigorously defended the combination of
budget cuts and tax increases the Legislature approved early Tuesday
morning, saying the alternative — an all-cuts budget she presented and
immediately disavowed back in December — would have been far worse.
Lawmakers stood up for children, seniors and the most vulnerable,
Gregoire said at a late morning news conference 10 hours after the
special session adjourned.
Washington Democrats lurched into campaign season Tuesday,
defending key parts of their $800 million revenue package against a
rollback campaign that emerged just hours after the Legislature
adjourned its special session.
Gov. Chris Gregoire praised the Democrat-controlled Legislature
on Tuesday for passing a package of tax increases and budget cuts
before adjourning their special session at 1:10 a.m. Gregoire said the
tax increases assure funding for education and the safety net. “I don’t
want to see people without hospice care. I don’t want to fail to provide
the employees of tomorrow because we didn’t give a little one at 3
years of age preschool. I don’t want to say to the Microsoft and Boeing,
no you’re not going to have an engineer because that kid couldn’t
afford to go to college,” Gregoire said.
Throughout the debate on health reform, states have asked, "how
much will this cost us?" As some of the estimates that have been
publicized have serious flaws, it's even more important to know where
the numbers came from and how they were calculated. Here are a few key
questions to ask as state governments and other interested parties put
out their "official" numbers.