Policy Agenda: Framework for Prosperity

Investments   

•    Education and Opportunity
•    Thriving Communities
•    Healthy People and Environment
•    Economic Security

Revenue

•    Capital Gains
•    Sales Tax
•    Working Families Tax Rebate
•    Strengthening the Rainy Day Fund

INTRODUCTION

This is a crucial time in Washington state’s history. There are choices to be made by our newly elected Governor and state Legislature that will impact millions of Washingtonians.

  • How to fulfill the requirements of the McCleary school funding decision, which will touch not only education but all areas of the budget?
  • How to implement the Affordable Care Act, to provide access to health coverage?
  • What should our priorities be for investing in the building blocks of a strong economy?
  • How will we pay for all these things?                                 

When I think of the kind of state I want my young son to grow up in, I know every Washingtonian wants the same: a state with safe, thriving communities, healthy people, an environment with clean air and water, jobs that offer economic security for families, and an education that provides opportunities for the next generation. But those values are in jeopardy right now. All of this comes together in one place—the state budget.

It’s a powerful tool for social change and a reflection of our values. In this document, we lay out specific recommendations for targeted investments that would bring our state closer to providing prosperity for all Washingtonians. We also provide revenue options to help pay for those investments.

The measure of our success is a state with the financial resources to invest in what reflects Washingtonians’ values—a state that can create shared prosperity during good times, and during bad times maintains our commitment to progress. This document is a framework to help get us there.

The Washington State Budget & Policy Center staff and I look forward to working with elected officials, advocates, community members, and everyone else who cares about tomorrow’s Washington state to realize this vision.

 _Remy Trupin, Executive Director

INVESTMENTS SUMMARY

Widely shared prosperity does not happen by accident. It happens when we deliberately invest in the foundations of a strong economy—broad and equal opportunity to build knowledge and skills, adequate compensation
and support for workers, and targeted investments in conditions that foster
economic growth.

Washington state’s investments should:

Provide opportunity for all. Opportunities that most Washingtonians need to prosper—access to high-quality education, health care, transportation,
clean environment, and work supports—are cost-effective and improve
long-term outcomes for families, communities, and the economy.

Create better jobs. A thriving middle class is dependent on having enough
jobs that allow Washingtonians to get ahead, and policies that reward
workers for their productivity. In addition, jobs that maintain our physical
infrastructure (construction and maintenance on schools, roads, bridges,
transportation) and build knowledge and skills (teachers, job trainers,
social workers) strengthen the foundation of a strong economy.

Bottom Line

When more people have a chance to reach their full potential and enough economic security to make investments in their future, our economy will grow.

Click for specific investment recommendations.

REVENUE SUMMARY

After the worst recession of our lifetime, rebuilding Washington state’s economy must be policymakers first priority. To build a strong state, we need reforms that will create a more robust and stable revenue system that is able to meet the demands of the 21st century economy.

Washington state’s revenue system is:

Behind the times. Our state revenue system hasn’t substantially changed
since 1935. Seventy-seven years ago Washington state’s economy was based
on agriculture, manufacturing, and purchases of tangible goods. Today our
state produces advanced software and other high-tech goods and services that weren’t even imagined in the 1930s.

Losing pace. Just 40 years ago, our revenue system generated 6.9 cents of every dollar of personal income produced in the state. Today it generates only 4.9 cents per dollar of personal income. That’s a 30 percent decline that won’t abate without changes.

Upside-down. State taxes take a much larger bite out of family incomes among lower- and middle-income households compared to the richest households. As a share of their incomes, ordinary Washingtonians can pay up to eight times more in state and local taxes than those at the top of the income scale.

Bottom Line

Instead of de-funding our values with deep budget cuts, Washington state lawmakers should focus on making changes to our revenue system that will rebuild the economy to work for everyone.

Click for specific revenue recommendations.

 

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HIGHLIGHTS

Budget Matters 2016 Save the Date

Watch the Poverty Forum Video

If you missed the half-day Poverty Forum that we co-hosted with Partners for Our Children in May 2016, you can watch it on YouTube now. It features a range of speakers and panelists talking about policy solutions for addressing income inequality and poverty in our state.

We're Hiring!

Come join our fun, hard-wording team of people who are passionate about social and economic justice! We're seeking a Development Manager and a Policy Analyst/Senior Policy Analyst. (For the analyst position, we will be giving priority review to applications received by Wednesday, August 3.

Our Legislative Agenda

Our agenda for the 2015-2017 biennium calls for an equitable, sustainable revenue system in addition to state investments that: promote a world-class education system; sustain a strong middle class; produce living-wage jobs, and ensure that all Washingtonians have equal opportunity to get ahead. 

Testimonies in Olympia

We testified in support of a number of important bills during the 2016 legislative session. Take a look:

  • Our testimony (at the 23:23 minute mark) on the House Bill that would take a two-generation approach to preventing poverty 
  • Our testimony (at the 1:54:09 mark) on the House bill focused on aerospace-related tax breaks
  • Our House testimony (at the 9:25 mark) and Senate testimony (at the 1:44:54 mark) on the two-generation approach to poverty prevention bill 

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