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

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GiveBIG is May 3

Seattle's annual giving event is today! And for the first time this year, a group of our board members is giving a $4,000 challenge grant to inspire even more people to make a gift to the Budget & Policy Center! You can make your gift for #GiveBIG now. A gift to us is an investment in the progress and prosperity of Washington state.

Our Legislative Agenda

During the 2016 legislative session, the Budget & Policy Center promoted several of the common-sense policy ideas we developed for the 2015-2017 bienniumOur Legislative Agenda 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. 

Budget Beat 

Listen to our Budget Beat offering highlights of the 2016 legislative session! 

Testimonies in Olympia

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

  • Policy Analyst Elena Hernandez's testimony (at the 23:23 minute mark) on the House Bill that would take a two-generation approach to preventing poverty 
  • Associate Director of Fiscal Policy Andy Nicholas's testimony (at the 1:54:09 mark) on the House bill focused on aerospace-related tax breaks
  • Research and Policy Director Lori Pfingst's 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 

Budget Matters Summit

Thank you to all who attended our our Budget Matters 2015 policy summit. If you missed it (or would like to relive it), you can watch a highlight video of the summit or watch the full summit panel -- which featured a range of community leaders talking about how to advance racial equity in state policymaking.