KIDS COUNT in Washington, in partnership with Children’s Alliance, released our 2013 State of Washington’s Children report this morning, which affirms that we are falling far short of providing the opportunities our kids need to succeed in school and in life. To remedy this, lawmakers must reach agreement on a final budget that makes targeted investments that provide a solid foundation for all kids to prosper.
The State of Washington’s Children data tells a story we can’t afford to ignore:
- Nearly four of every 10 kids (625,000) in Washington state live in families that struggle to meet basic needs, like having enough food, safe housing, and school supplies;
- Nearly 104,000 children lack health insurance, reducing their likelihood of seeing a doctor or dentist when they are sick, and putting their family at financial risk; and
- Almost one in three (31 percent) students cannot read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade, limiting their future educational achievement and attainment.
Such gaps in opportunity obstruct progress toward a secure and healthy future for kids. For kids of color, who are rapidly becoming the majority of our population, the gaps in opportunity are even more egregious.
And the data in our report only provides a superficial understanding of the opportunity gaps kids of color face – limitations in available data conceal the true extent of diversity in our state (see graph). Without deepening our understanding of what kids today need to succeed, our solutions will be limited too.
The state of Washington’s children is not strong. The state budget is our main tool for making the investments that all kids need to reach their full potential, and lawmakers should act now to give this generation the opportunity to thrive. But none of the current budgets under consideration make the adequate and targeted investments that provide a foundation of opportunity for children to grow into the leaders, artists, parents, entrepreneurs, and workers of tomorrow.
Washington state needs new and sustainable resources to build a prosperous future for the next generation.
Check out the full report: State of Washington’s Children 2013: Good Data for A Stronger Future.
Kids Count in Washington is a partnership between Children's Alliance and the Washington State Budget & Policy Center to help improve young lives.
Hundreds of data indicators about the well-being of children are available through the KIDS COUNT in Washington web site: www.kidscountwa.org.
Today, the House introduced a revised budget and revenue package that takes a giant step back from generating the resources needed to rebuild Washington state’s economy and the middle class. This proposal builds on years of damaging cuts and fails to make a substantial investment towards the court-ordered McCleary decision which requires a $4.5 billion increased investment in public schools by 2018.
Today’s proposal is a sharp departure from the budget that was originally proposed by the House. The new proposal invests over $800 million less in public priorities, falling far short of what Washingtonians truly need to prosper. The proposal fails to extend a 0.3 percentage-point B&O surcharge applied to business services ($534 million) and fails to extend a surcharge on breweries and other beer distributors ($58 million).
Reduced resources means:
- Undermining the quality of education our children receive by reducing our investment towards McCleary ($400 million less);
- Reduced investment in a quality early learning system ($16 million less);
- Weakened pathways to economic security for families receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families ($20 million less);
- Less funding to address the educational opportunity gap ($4 million less).
Without additional revenue, the legislature will continue a damaging trend that has endured for over four years. Since 2009, the legislature has enacted over $10.5 billion in cuts that harm the well-being of families, reduce opportunity through education, and harm future economic growth. These cuts have meant on-going hardship for women at home and in the workforce, a dimmer economic future for young adults, and shrinking economic security.
Alongside the revised budget, the House is considering legislation to close seven tax breaks (House Bill 2034), raising $260 million that would be dedicated to K-12 public schools and higher education. While choosing kids over tax breaks is the right choice, this proposal closes fewer tax breaks than the House originally proposed, resulting in $100 million less that could be invested in our kids.
There are additional choices that legislators can make such as broadening the sales tax, enacting a new excise tax on capital gains and reforming our tax code to ensure that resources are available to invest in the things that create jobs and grow our economy.
Stay tuned to schmudget for more analysis on the latest budget and revenue proposals.
We are now accepting applications for the 2013-2014 Betty Jane Narver Fellowship.
We are looking for someone with:
- a commitment to social justice
- facility with quantitative analysis,
- an understanding or a desire to understand policy making,
- a desire to receive mentorship, and a strong interest in pursuing a career involving policy analysis.
Does that sound like you? Or someone you know?
The fellowship is open to any currently enrolled graduate student in a college or university, and recent graduates with a master's degree or Ph.D.
Qualified applicants should have excellent written and oral communications skills, a commitment to accuracy and attention to detail, and a demonstrated interest in fiscal policy. To achieve our goal of training and supporting new voices in the policy arena, we’re especially interested in candidates from diverse backgrounds.
The fellow will receive a biweekly stipend and be responsible for less than 20 hours a week. This position is not eligible for benefits. Reimbursable travel may be required to specific policy-related trainings chosen by the Budget & Policy Center. The fellowship will generally run from November 2013 through April 2014 (this is flexible).
More information on the fellowship can found be found here.
The deadline to apply is Monday, June 24, 2013. Applicants will be contacted within 10 days. If you have any questions, please contact Remy Trupin at remyt(at)budgetandpolicy.org. No phone calls please.
A completed application includes:
• Fellowship Application (including contact information for two references)
• Personal Statement on how government budget priorities and tax policies relate to low and moderate income households in America. Wherever possible, indicate how your personal background has influenced your views. Feel free to also address your commitment to improving the well-being of low and moderate income communities and families, policy areas that are of particular interest to you, and your experience working with diverse communities. (500 words or less)
• College transcript (unofficial transcript will be accepted)
Our 2012- 2013 Narver Fellow, Elena Hernandez, was interviewed about her experience and shares her reflections here.
Join us on the evening of Tuesday June 18th from 6:30 to 9 p.m. for a special film screening of the acclaimed HBO documentary American Winter at SIFF Cinema Uptown.
American Winter follows the personal stories of eight families struggling in the wake of the economic downturn. Shot in Portland, Oregon, this powerful film reveals the human impact of budget cuts to social services, of rising poverty and economic inequality, and the fracturing of the American Dream.
Following the film there will be a brief panel discussion to examine how many of the issues raised in the film are impacting families in Washington state.
To view a trailer of the film, click here.
Save the date for our second annual policy conference Budget Matters 2013, on December 12th at the Washington State Convention Center. Last year we had more than 300 advocates, lawmakers and community members attend our first full day conference and we look forward to making this year's event even better.
This year's conference will feature policy experts, lawmakers, communication strategists and advocates on a broad range of issues as we work to build a more inclusive and prosperous Washington state.
Stay tuned for much more information about panel topics and featured speakers, and please save the date.
For highlights from Budget Matters 2012, click here.
Members of the Senate are proposing to drastically cut the estate tax for Washington state’s wealthiest households at the expense of educating kids.
The Senate is capitalizing on the urgency to clarify existing law in response to a court ruling and using it as an opportunity to undermine education funding. Last year’s State Supreme Court ruling on the estate tax, known as the Bracken decision, would prevent future collections of estate taxes from married households, resulting in an estimated $160 million in lost revenue over the next two years. This is revenue we cannot afford to lose – it goes directly toward helping struggling and disadvantaged students and keeping kids from dropping out of high school.
The House has responded with HB 2064 that would clarify existing law and close the loophole for wealthy couples, in a way that will protect future funding of public schools. The Senate, however, would also make estates worth up to $5 million exempt from the tax, a significant increase over the current $2 million threshold for paying the tax. Senate Bill 5939 would slash estate tax rates across the board by 25 percent by 2022.
Only the wealthiest families in the state would see any type of benefit under the Senate’s approach. Annually, a little over 300 households face Washington state’s estate tax. In 2010, out of the nearly 50,000 Washingtonians who passed away in 2010, only .6 percent owed any estate tax at all.
Washington state is under court order to invest significant resources in fully funding education over the next few years. Proposing tax cuts for our state’s wealthiest households to the detriment of students moves us further away from meeting that obligation.
Our Executive Director Remy Trupin had an op-ed in the Columbian over the weekend, "Washington State Can't Cut It's Way to Job Creation, Prosperity."
During this special legislative session, as lawmakers grapple with how to balance the state budget, we need to protect public investments that help create middle-class jobs and grow our economy.
Now more than ever, it is crucial that the public understands the harm done by recent cuts to education, health care and other vital services, and what's at stake if lawmakers continue to pursue that course. Providing a basic education is the state's paramount duty and in its McCleary decision, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the state is not meeting its constitutional obligation to give our children an adequate basic education. A down payment on the court's requirements will mean an additional $1.4 billion in the 2013-2015 biennium, according to the Joint Task Force on Education Funding.
It is important to note that Washington state has a revenue problem, instead of, as has been characterized by some, a spending problem. The Columbian in its May 8 editorial, "Prepare for Pain," had some factual errors about the size of the state budget, incorrectly classified federal versus state funds, and used questionable sources to calculate the size of state government.
While we would all like to believe that future revenue growth, without changes in the tax system, will be enough to cover McCleary and our other needs, rebuild our state in the wake of the Great Recession and put people back to work, the truth is the economy is growing slowly, at best.
In fact, revenue will be about $2.7 billion short of the amount needed to sustain existing levels of public services and fund court-ordered improvements to education in the upcoming 2013-15 budget cycle.
Due to a sluggish revenue recovery over the 2011-13 budget cycle, legislators cut more than $5 billion from investments that help make Washington state a great place to live and work. That's not just numbers on paper — that's more kids in crowded classrooms, people going without health care, families paying more in college tuition and going deeper into debt.
These things matter. In part, because our state tax system is old and crumbling, and our resources have been dwindling as a result. Crafted in the 1930s and focused primarily on taxing tangible goods, our revenue system is incapable of keeping pace with a 21st century economy oriented more toward services — such as pet grooming and teeth whitening — to which sales taxes ought to be applied. As a share of the state economy, revenues that help pay for services Washingtonians depend on are only at 70 percent of what they were in 1995, and are projected to keep falling into the foreseeable future.
The inadequacy of Washington state's tax system is compounded by the fact that it is upside down. For households earning less than $20,000 a year, state and local taxes are nearly 17 percent of their income. At the other end, our state's top 1 percent richest households — those making over $430,000 a year — pay 2.8 percent.
The best choice legislators could make for our state would be to lay a foundation for a strong economy by creating a robust and equitable revenue system that improves our schools, roads, health care and other public investments; ensures better opportunities for all kids; helps create better jobs; and rebuilds the middle class.
A good place to start would be eliminating tax breaks for big, profitable companies if those breaks aren't helping to create jobs in Washington state. As we move forward with the special session, it is imperative that the public has accurate, honest information about the investments we make together through our state budget — and for lawmakers to acknowledge that further cuts will only set us back.