Schmudget Blog
— filed under: ,

Lawmakers Should Strengthen Programs that Support Work

Posted by Lori Pfingst at Jan 23, 2013 07:20 PM |
Filed under: ,

Part II in a series on investments that will help rebuild the middle class and put Washington state on a stronger path to prosperity.

Washington state’s weak economy requires greater investment in programs that help people find or keep a job, and help mitigate the impact of poverty on kids.  As the Legislature debates a new budget, the focus should be on strengthening WorkFirst, our state’s main program to help children and families during tough times.

During the 2012 legislative session the single largest cut to the state budget was to the WorkFirst program, in which seven of every 10 recipients is a child.  The cut weakened a program proven to help parents find or keep a job and meet their children's basic needs.

As a result of cuts to WorkFirst:

  • Cash assistance has declined.  Today, a family of three can receive a maximum of $478 per month to make ends meet.  That is only one-quarter of the amount needed to cover a family’s basic needs, like food, housing, clothing, and school supplies (see graph). Cash assistance is not adjusted for inflation. When combined with a 15 percent cut in 2010, the value of the grant has declined by 40 percent since 1996.
WorkFirst

 

  • Cuts to a critical lifeline of support. Washington state is enforcing a harsh 60-month lifetime limit on WorkFirst benefits, which has forced 27,000 people off the program even though unemployment remains exceedingly high, especially in rural parts of the state.  Two of every three kicked off the program is a child, and time limits drastically reduces their access to resources that mitigate the impact of poverty. (see graph).

60month

In a tough economy, programs that help people work should be strengthened, not cut. When more families are able to achieve economic security, children are more likely to thrive and the economy will grow. 

Also in this series: Strong Public Policies Essential in a Weak Economy.

Document Actions
HIGHLIGHTS

Policy Summit You're InvitedSign Up and Save the Date!

We will host two Budget Matters policy summits this year – one in Spokane on October 31 (register now) and one in Seattle on December 6 (registration coming soon)! The Spokane summit, featuring Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, will focus on the impact of federal and state policy decisions on eastern Washington communities. The Seattle summit, featuring Glenn Harris of Race Forward, will examine what it would take to lift up everyone to advance progress in our state. Find out more.

Our Policy Priorities

Washington state should be a place where all our residents have strong communities, great schools, and the chance for a bright future. Our 2017-2019 Legislative Agenda outlines the priorities we are working to advance to build a better Washington.

Budget Beat!

Check out the Budget Beat webinars we hosted throughout the 2017 legislative session, including our most recent Budget Beat about federal budget proposals, featuring Louisa Warren of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, on our YouTube channel

Testimonies in Olympia

To advance our legislative priorities, the Budget & Policy Center team was in the state capitol throughout session testifying on a wide range of bills. Watch our testimonies on TVW:
Misha TVW