Advocates Applaud House Budget Proposal For Investing in Washington Families

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 27, 2017

Advocates Applaud House Budget Proposal For Investing in Washington Families

Urges legislature to continue bipartisan work to protect Washington’s most vulnerable communities

Olympia, Wa – As advocates for some of the most underserved populations in our communities - people with low incomes, people with disabilities, seniors, immigrants, and those at risk of or experiencing homelessness – we applaud the House of Representatives for introducing a budget that not only fully funds basic education, but does so while increasing investments for some of Washington’s most vulnerable communities.

“Smart policies and investments in critical health and human services offer stability and opportunities to thrive,” says Claire Lane, Director of Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition. “Our state has a history of effective and bipartisan solutions to help all of us on a solid path to better opportunities, and we urge the House and Senate to continue that work.”

“We are pleased with the House’s decision to strengthen Washington’s safety-net, and to allow our state’s Medicaid Innovation Transformation Demonstration to continue,” says Rachael Myers, Executive Director of Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. “Housing affordability is a crisis in our state, and we need to increase investments in proven programs that prevent homelessness, and protect families.”

Yet our state’s upside down tax code continually blocks that path forward. Legislators again find themselves at a crossroads as they work to fund basic education.

"Funding is desperately needed for families and individuals living on the margins, mentally ill persons, and those who are homeless,” says Josephine Tamayo Murray, Vice President of Catholic Community Services. “We have a moral obligation to maintain a strong safety net that serves the most vulnerable among us."

In the past week, our legislature has offered two starkly different road maps for Washington’s future. The House budget offers real solutions: nearly $3 billion in new revenue that would fully fund education and ensure that bipartisan policies and programs already in place continue to support our community members who need them.

The House budget supports our communities by:

Providing OSPI with $2.6 million to help targeted high poverty schools expand access to school breakfast. Washington ranks 45th in U.S. in serving breakfast to low-income students.

Restoring $500,000 to the Department of Agriculture for the Farm to School and Small Farms Direct Market programs so local farmers can feed more kids and families across the state.

Increasing the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) cash grant for extremely low-income people with disabilities from $197 per month to $227.

Preserving the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) rental assistance program.

Increasing funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), State Family Assistance (SFA), and Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) programs. The average TANF grant for a family of four is increased from $613 per month to $662 per month.

Increasing asset limits for applicants and recipients of public benefits.

By contrast, the Senate released a budget that offers no meaningful changes to our upside-down tax code to pay for the things we need. Instead, the Senate budget eliminates programs and slashes funding for those with the lowest incomes.

In Washington, 1 in 6 children lives in poverty; 1 in 7 households struggles to put food on the table, and nearly every single community in our state is facing a housing affordability crisis. While the House budget puts forward solutions for these problems, the Senate budget is disastrous for our communities:

Prohibits the Health Care Authority from implementing Washington’s Medicaid Innovation Demonstration, jeopardizing $1.5 billion in federal funds that would fund programs to serve extremely vulnerable, disabled and low-income households, including people experiencing long-term homelessness with a physical or mental health disability.

Funds homelessness programs out of existing resources, which will result in an overall cut of nearly $25 million for affordable homes and homelessness programs. These cuts will be significantly compounded if the pending sunset in 2019 of over 60% of state homelessness dollars is not eliminated.

Eliminates funding for Young Adult Shelter Beds and Young Adult Housing Programs.

Together, our organizations urge the legislature to continue the bipartisan work of ensuring that all members of our communities have the opportunity to thrive in Washington.

Washington Low Income Housing Alliance: wliha.org

Statewide Poverty Action Network: povertyaction.org

Catholic Community Services: ccsww.org

Columbia Legal Services: columbialegal.org

Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition: wsahnc.org

Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP: wsaheadstarteceap.com

National Association of Social Workers - WA Chapter: nasw-wa.org

Faith Action Network: fanwa.org

Northwest Harvest: northwestharvest.org

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Contact Reiny Cohen

206.251.4083

reinyc@wliha.org