In this edition, you'll read about the dueling state Senate and House budget proposals and Sen. Majority Leader Lisa Brown's call for more revenue – a top priority this year for the Children's Alliance and other members of the Rebuilding Our Economic Future Coalition. You'll also read commentaries urging lawmakers to protect funding for early learning, interpreter services for Medicaid patients and other vital programs for children and families.
State leaders are split over the idea of a sales tax increase to help balance Washington's $2.8 billion budget deficit. Senate Democrats want to raise the sales tax three-tenths of a penny. But Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire doesn't like that approach. And House Democrats still haven't settled on a tax package.
The state budget is a moral document. It is a statement of our
values and priorities. Especially this year, it is no less than the
vision of the future we want to create for our families and our
Policymakers in Olympia are looking hard at every available
dollar these days. And while that scrutiny is welcome, community members
and business leaders need to make sure our policymakers are taking a
long-term view of each decision they make. Making cuts to early learning
and development programs today will impact both individual children and
our collective community in the years to come. Closing programs that
prepare young children to enter kindergarten and our school systems will
profoundly hurt us all.
Under Gov. Chris Gregoire's current budget proposal, money to
pay for interpreters to help Medicaid patients who aren't able to speak
English well would be cut. Guest columnists Deborah J. Harper and Amal
Abdulrahman suggest that would increases costs for everyone.
Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed cuts to services aimed at
helping trouble kids in the state’s child welfare system gain
independence. If the cuts are enacted, advocates fear that more foster
youth will wind up homeless.
Children who live in poverty during the years before they enter
kindergarten can struggle as adults because there is a link between
living in poverty in those first years and earning less as an adult,
according to a research report released over the weekend.
A 2000 report by the U.S. Surgeon General called dental disease
a “silent epidemic.” While dental health has since improved in the
United States, children have not benefited at the same rates as adults.
An estimated 1 in 5 children go without dental care each year, with
low-income, minority and disabled children hit the hardest.
First lady Michelle Obama appealed Saturday to the nation's
governors to join in her initiative to reduce childhood obesity, saying
years of handwringing over what has become a national crisis should give
way to coordinated action by Washington and the states.
While the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)
significantly expanded public benefits programs such as food stamps,
unemployment insurance, SCHIP, TANF and child care and housing
subsidies, at least $65 billion in vital government services and support
remain unclaimed. Among families with at least one full-time worker,
less than 1 in 5 eligible families receives food stamps, fewer than 1 in
10 gets child care assistance and only half receive public health
insurance through Medicaid or SCHIP.
Many of us simply rolled our eyes when we heard about Colorado
Rep. Spencer Swalm's ludicrous claim that single parents are the cause
of poverty. Or what about when South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer
compared poor people to stray animals by saying, "You're facilitating
the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply"? ...
People who don't take the Swalms and Bauers of the world seriously
enough are enabling
more of them to crop up every day. Most of these offensive comments
don't make the news, but they're out there -- and the recession has
increased their frequency.