In this edition you'll find news stories and editorials about the push to balance new revenue sources with difficult cuts. You'll also read about the governor's "All Start" preschool proposal and a call to follow the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s advice on addressing racism and poverty.
At a news conference convened by the Rebuilding Our Economic
Future Coalition, the Children’s Alliance joined parents and teachers
in urging our state lawmakers to raise significant new revenue to
protect kids and schools. Children's Alliance board member Don
Scaramastra stressed the importance of early learning programs such as
Working Connections Child Care, which faces a nearly $50 million cut.
Without Working Connections, an estimated 7,000 families could lose or
be denied the child care they need to keep or find jobs.
Democrats are in a ticklish spot about the budget deficit. So
they will shy away from a general tax increase and instead focus on
"tax fairness," sticking it to out-of-state companies and airplane
Rep. Barbara Bailey asks, “What can lawmakers do to turn the
budget around and ensure economic prosperity?” The answer is to demand
what we have been seriously lacking: leadership to reform how state
Will Uncle Sam rescue Washington's budget? Having given
lawmakers enough political cover to openly pursue new revenue, Gov.
Chris Gregoire is now eager for another federal bailout to take the
place of a major tax hike. However, advocates for labor, the
environment and the poor are arguing loudly for new tax streams to pay
for ongoing state programs, arguing that any federal windfall that
Congress and President Obama might unleash this year is only good until
the money's gone. After that, you're still left with a mountain of
unpaid bills, on top of billions in stimulus aid and other one-time
money used to prop up the budget last year.
Arun Raha, Washington state’s economic and revenue forecaster,
reported the other day that tax receipts for October and November were
$51.8 million more than expected. Is real economic recovery about to
appear? Maybe, but it doesn’t begin to solve the immediate problem, a
$2.6 billion revenue pothole that the Legislature must patch to get
through the remaining 15 months of the 2009-11 biennium. How that’s
done will have a major impact on how solid a recovery we can expect.
Washington state needs more revenues to ensure it doesn't lose
ground in the areas most critical to its future, writes state Senate
Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane. Not to raise taxes would
jeopardize the investments that citizens value, including schools,
public safety and healthy citizens.
The all-cuts budget now under consideration in Olympia will
undermine the long-term future of Washington state. The governor was
required by law to issue a budget that relies only on cuts to close the
$2.6 billion shortfall for 2010-11, but the resulting document should
be read as more of a warning than a blueprint. After billions in cuts
in the last legislative session, the cuts now under discussion would
destroy our ability to make Washington state a place where our kids
receive a good education, where we have access to a dependable health
care system, where we support our elderly and people with disabilities,
and where we protect our quality of life. All of these are critical
components of our economic competitiveness. We sacrifice them at our
On a day when students around the state had the day off, state
lawmakers were the ones getting graded Monday. The first-ever report
card for assessing legislators on how their 2009 voting record affected
racial equity was issued on Martin Luther King Jr. Day by a coalition
of more than 20 groups working for racial and social justice. The
Legislature as a whole received a “D” with the House faring slightly
better than the Senate.
Today, more than 45 million Americans lack basic health
insurance, and the current health care reform bill does not guarantee
them comprehensive, affordable care. More than four decades after
King's death, we are still dealing with some of the basic problems he
addressed. We need to arrive at a post-racial and post-poverty America.
But we're not there yet. In the memory of Martin Luther King Jr., let
us strive to arrive there soon.
Gov. Chris Gregoire said Monday that she wants all preschools
for children ages 3 and 4 to be certified by the state. Gregoire said
that under her proposed "All Start" preschool program, certification
would ensure that all preschools would operate under the same standards
set by the Department of Early Learning.