by Jennifer Tran and Misha Werschkul, Washington State Budget & Policy Center
(This piece was originally published in longer form on the Washington State Budget & Policy Center blog.)
Since the first U.S. COVID-19 case was confirmed in Washington State in January, the public health crisis has rapidly evolved into an economic crisis. In recent weeks, we have spoken with many nonprofit and community leaders in our region to find out more about the specific economic needs emerging from this crisis. And we’ve heard the same sentiment over and over: We can’t make the same mistakes of the Great Recession. At that time, lawmakers made deep cuts to public services and community investments, and they increased our state’s reliance on regressive sources of tax revenue. This created continued hardship and growing inequalities for countless people in our communities.
Continue reading OPINION: Lawmakers Must Focus on Building a Just and Inclusive Economy for Our State
by Reneeka Massey-Jones
In Washington State, we like to think we’re progressive, but I’m not convinced we know what that means. Washington State has some of the most backward, upside down systems in place that do an injustice to low-income folks and people of color: like our regressive tax code, over-policing students of colors in our schools, the ever-growing homeless population, and child hunger, to name a few.
Continue reading Why I Rally For Equity
by Laura Van Tosh and Janine Bertram
State lawmakers in Olympia are debating House Bill 1394 (and its companion bill, Senate Bill 5431), an expensive proposal to build more hospitals with inpatient beds for people suffering from mental health or substance use challenges. This bill has gained wide appeal, and yet it takes a very awkward and giant step backward in terms of reforming what has been called, “a broken system.” We don’t believe our system is “broken” but we do believe Washington State policy makers are on the wrong path, thinking that more inpatient beds are the answer.
Continue reading OPINION: State Lawmakers Seek the Wrong Answer by Demanding More Mental Health Beds
by Rep. Debra Entenman
I remember growing up in a housing project in Seattle and my mother having to make choices. Choices like which of my siblings got to go on the field trip or which store to shop at to get the cheapest groceries to stretch her teacher’s paycheck just a little bit further.
Continue reading OPINION: I Grew Up Witnessing How Washington’s Tax Code Hurts Families — Let’s Fix It
Program cuts have stark racist impacts
(This article originally appeared on budgetandpolicy.org and has been republished with permission.)
by Liz Olson
As the Washington State Budget & Policy Center has previously written, Washington has made deep cuts to its WorkFirst program, our state version of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), in the last decade. New data reveal that these cuts have disproportionately harmed Black and American Indian families, who — under the harsh, inflexible time limit policy — are more likely to be cut off WorkFirst/TANF than their white counterparts. So although the WorkFirst program is intended to provide critical support to families who are excluded from opportunity, punitive policy decisions have instead further marginalized people of color from basic resources — threatening to deepen racial income and wealth disparity.
Continue reading OPINION: Punitive WorkFirst Policies Disproportionately Harm Families of Color
by Virginia Parham
Last year my son, Willie Nobles, got the chance I want for every family in Washington state. Having served 22 years in prison of a 96-year-sentence, a compassionate judge reviewed Willie’s case and said he couldn’t, in good conscience, keep him in prison.
Continue reading OPINION: Senate Bill 5819 Offers a Second Chance to Inmates
by Mia Gregerson and Manka Dhingra
Ensuring mother and child thrive in childbirth and beyond are among the highest on our list of American values. However, the United States remains only one of eight nations in the world with a rising maternal mortality rate — and black mothers are dying at 1.5 to two times the rate of white mothers in childbirth.
Continue reading OPINION: Statewide Office of Equity Can Reduce Systemic Racial Inequalities
by Sumayyah Waheed
Washington State: We’re known for our natural beauty, tech innovations, agriculture, and bold spirit. But we’ve fallen behind in one place: our upside-down, regressive tax code. In a state with so much spirit and potential, no one should be in last place. But our terrible tax code stands in the way of that.
Continue reading Washington is in Last Place — Again. Here’s How We Fix It.
by Marilyn Watkins
Washington’s legislature launches a 60-day session January 11. As in the past several years, their biggest challenge will be money – how to adequately fund schools without slashing the other services necessary to protect the health and safety of our state’s people. Continue reading Fully Funding Washington’s Education System Means Legislators Must Find Their Backbones
by John Stafford
The 2015 Washington State Legislative Session promises to be one of the most contentious and momentous in recent state history. The following is a brief summary of ten of the most critical issues (not ranked by importance) that will be addressed in Olympia over the next several months. Continue reading Primer for the 2015 Washington State Legislative Session