In this edition, the effects of state budget cuts on critical family services are in the news on the eve of the election. One local mother’s struggle with a potential Working Connections Child Care program cut brought her to the state Capitol, which is featured in a King 5 TV report this week, while the Yakima-Herald Republic takes a look at the impact of losing the childcare subsidy on Yakima’s working families and childcare providers.
Clark County is taking hard hits, too, with one of the highest poverty rates in the state, as reported by The Columbian. Meanwhile, King 5 Ad Watch debunks the most recent misleading “Yes on I-1107” campaign ad.
Several low income families are making a last minute push to save a child care subsidy program. Many families are expecting to see theaid evaporate due to state budget cuts. April Ritter is a mother of three, struggling to make ends meet as a small-town child care worker... Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has ordered steep cuts after the last budget forecast. They include the trimming of Washington’s “Working Connections” program, which provides a child care subsidy for low-income families. Ritter says it’s been vital for her family, and her ability to continue her education.
Cuts in the state budget will harm working families' ability to pay for child care, which they need to stay on the job, day care providers said Saturday at a Yakima hearing. Ironically, the state has already withdrawn the proposed permanent rule for which the hearing was held. But a new proposal will likely be submitted later this year, requiring another round of hearings across the state. And the permanent reduction in child care funding for the Working Connections program could be worse than forecast if state and federal funding declines further, said Andy Fernando, rules coordinator for the state's Department of Early Learning.
An increasing number of Clark County residents are turning to food banks, as the county finds itself among state leaders in a dismal category: biggest increase of residents living in poverty. According to a study released this week by the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, Clark shares the unwanted distinction with Grays Harbor, Yakima and Snohomish counties. Food banks serve people who are at or below 185 percent of federal poverty guidelines ($40,793 for a family of four), and have seen a 25 percent increase in people asking for help, said Pete Munroe, Clark County’s housing and community development manager… From 2008 to ’09, the number of children living in poverty in Clark County increased by 4.4 percent, behind Grays Harbor County’s 7.6 percent and Yakima County’s 6.3 percent, according to the study.
You might get the impression from these ads that your grocery store is filled with new taxes. That's not the case. Virtually all the money for this campaign comes from the American Beverage Association, and there's a reason for that. The biggest impacts of the new taxes are on soda, bottled water, and candy - about $100 million a year. Only a very small part of the new taxes - about $4 million - involves some processed foods.
The soda tax is 2 cents for every 12 ounce bottle, and is expected to generate $300 million. (Sandeep) Kaushik says that money helps pay for education and health services."Without this revenue we would've eliminated the voter approved Basic Health Plan, that's 70,000 people across the state that would've lost coverage. We would've eliminated Apple Health program, another health care program that covers 16,000 children."
Ballot measures such as Referendum 52 and I-1098 that promote healthier schools for children have the support of public school teachers in Benton County, but they oppose measures that would reduce taxes and allow more liquor stores through private sales. Teachers and representatives of the Washington Education Association explained their positions on the Nov. 2 ballot issues during a news conference in Kennewick on Monday.
Though the recession has been disastrous for families throughout Washington, Grays Harbor, Yakima, Clark and Snohomish counties saw the fastest growth in total poverty or child poverty from 2008 to 2009, according to an analysis of new U.S. Census data by the Washington State Budget & Policy Center…The sharp increases mirror the increase in poverty statewide, and come amid major state cuts. Cuts to services for vulnerable populations include maternity support services for high-risk women, and mental health and medical services for those with disabilities. Child welfare and support services face a nearly $15 million cut, with reductions to foster care agencies and support for those in home care. More than $120 million in reductions to health care including reducing coverage for more than 127,000 children, and cuts for adults which include pharmacy benefit, prescription drugs, dental, vision, hearing, podiatry and hospice coverage.
Child care subsidies for low income working parents make it possible for children to receive quality child care in licensed facilities while their parents are at work. Without these subsidies, most low-income working parents would not be able to afford child care while employed. But the state’s revenue shortfall has taken its toll on this program.