by John Stafford
“The Legislature has just wrapped up an historic and truly extraordinary session. It has been the most innovative, having produced unprecedented and legacy making advances as all-encompassing as any session in the last 25 years.”— Governor Jay Inslee, April 25, 2021
The Washington State Legislature has just completed its 2021 session — a 105-day event charged with passing three state budgets (operating, transportation and capital) and hundreds of policy bills, conducted exclusively online. From a liberal perspective, this has been an exciting and momentous session, with major legislative achievements in a wide range of areas.
I’ll evaluate the 2021 Legislative Session in 14 different areas: state budgets, tax reform, pandemic response, economic relief, housing and homelessness, K–12 education, health care, racial justice, criminal justice, gun control, labor, climate change, growth management act, and other, and give the session an overall grade.
Continue reading A Highly Compelling Session: An Evaluation of the 2021 Washington State Legislature
Why an economic recovery agenda shaped by those who have relied on government programs prioritizes investing in people
by Senator Joe Nguyen, 34th Legislative District
The headlines after several of us first-term legislators took office in 2019 proclaimed we were the “most diverse in state history,” and we should all be proud that we broke that record again after last year’s election. What hasn’t made the headlines, however, is the power of the advocacy we’ve witnessed from these legislators in conversations about how we should respond to the dire need felt by people in our communities.
That powerful advocacy is what’s responsible for the progress we’ve made this session in crafting a budget that reflects our values. Budget policy isn’t academic; the decisions we make about how to spend the state’s resources can be the difference between whether someone eats or starves, or whether they keep a roof over their head or end up homeless during a global pandemic.
Continue reading OPINION: Representation Matters
by Margaret Babayan and Emily Vyhnanek
Last week, in a historic win for Washingtonians, the legislature passed House Bill 1297, an updated version of our state’s long-unfunded Working Families Tax Credit, with overwhelming bipartisan support. This targeted tax credit, which will provide an annual cash rebate to nearly 1 in 6 households with low and moderate incomes, will soon be signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee.
An earlier version of the credit initially passed the legislature in 2008 thanks to the efforts of many anti-poverty advocates, but amid state budget cuts during the Great Recession, it was never funded.
In the past few years however, a statewide coalition of more than 45 organizations formed to rekindle and strengthen advocacy efforts to get direct, flexible cash to Washingtonians and to expand eligibility to include more immigrants. The diverse coalition represents economic and racial justice groups, immigrant rights advocates, small business incubators, labor organizations, direct service providers, domestic violence advocates, research organizations (like the one we work for: the Washington State Budget & Policy Center), and more.
Continue reading OPINION: Community Members and Advocates Achieved a Big Victory for Inclusive Cash Support
by Scarlett To
As the Washington State Legislature responds to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Washington families continue to struggle with multiple crises, and we need action from our leaders now. As a local mother and advocate, I am urging lawmakers to take bold and swift action to get immediate relief to communities and families.
Continue reading OPINION: A Mother’s Call to Action for State Lawmakers