Schmudget Blog

Strong Public Policies are Essential in a Weak Economy

Posted by Lori Pfingst at Jan 22, 2013 11:05 PM |

In an economy that is not working, children and families in Washington state need strong social and economic policies more than ever. 

Strong public programs are a cornerstone of a strong economy, and are a major reason why the recent downturn did not become another Great Depression. In 2011 alone, policies like the State Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and Unemployment Insurance (UI) kept 40 million people in the U.S. out of poverty.

Washington state’s most recent employment report shows that there still aren’t enough jobs being created, and that the slight drop in the most recent unemployment rate is largely due to people who have given up looking for work.  The jobs data look grim – 18 of the top 20 occupations with the most vacancies in Washington state do not pay enough for a family of three to even meet basic needs (see figure).

prosperity_fig2_basicneeds_no#

The lack of jobs – especially those that pay enough to get by – is one of the main reasons for Washington state’s declining middle class and increase in poverty.  One in three kids in our state lives in a low income family, which does not bode well for their future or our collective well-being as a state (see figure). 

low income kids

As the Legislature debates a new budget this session, policymakers should keep in mind that investments in programs that help families find or keep a job and keep children out of poverty are essential to improving the overall economy. 

Stay tuned to schmudget this week for a series on investments that will rebuild the middle class and put Washington state on a stronger path to prosperity. 

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HIGHLIGHTS

Legislative Testimony

Senior Budget Analyst Kim Justice recently testified before Senate Ways and Means against a bill that would fund education at the expense of other budget investments. Watch it here. 

Kim 5881

Inside Olympia

Executive Director Remy Trupin appeared on TVW's "Inside Olympia" to discuss the budget, revenue options, and the impact of the McCleary decision going forward. The whole interview can be found here. 

Remy TVW -March 14


Budget Matters 2013

More than 300 people -- advocates, students, lawmakers, and policy experts joined us for our second annual policy conference. We heard from Heather McGhee, Jared Bernstein, and Governor Inslee.

Click here for video clips, photos, and PowerPoint presentations from the break-out sessions.

Our new video has highlights from the day. 

Heather McGhee


Save the date for this year's conference: Friday, December 12th, 2014 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.