Now is the time to invest in the health of Washington’s people and communities

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Now is the time to invest in the health of Washington’s people and communities

Our new brief offers state policy recommendations for the COVID-19 recovery

By - July 22, 2020

The emergence of COVID-19 underscores the important role public investments play in maintaining healthy communities. It also brings to light how decades of inadequate public investments and racism have left Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) enduring the greatest losses – despite policy changes won through years of resistance and organizing by communities.

Our new brief, “Investments today can lead to better health tomorrow,” outlines a policy agenda for responding to COVID-19. Policymakers can create a healthier, more equitable state by raising progressive revenue and investing in community well-being as part of their response to COVID-19. Budget and policy decisions that lift and keep people out of poverty are also health policies – and these investments are even more critical during the public health and economic crises.

During the Great Recession, Washington state lawmakers made the harmful decision to cut more than $10 billion from foundational public services like public health, economic security programs, and education rather than raising significant progressive revenue for community investments. This knee-jerk cuts approach harmed the health and well-being of thousands across the state. Lawmakers now find themselves at a similar crossroads as Washington faces a $4.5 billion revenue shortfall for the current biennium. However, there is enough wealth in our state to sustain and strengthen the public investments that keep us all well.

To move out of this crisis, policymakers must bolster public investments that support well-being, provide cash assistance directly to people, and raise progressive revenue for these investments. Doing so will support the health and well-being of people in Washington throughout the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Cartoon graphic of a suburban landscape and people in masks. Image text reads "WA Lawmakers must pave the way for an equitable recovery from COVID-19. To build an economy that includes everyone, policymakers must provide direct cash assistance, bolster community investments, and raise progressive revenue."

Support for this brief was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

About Margaret Babayan, Policy Analyst

Margaret joined the Budget & Policy Center’s research and policy team after serving as our 2018-19 Betty Jane Narver Policy Fellow.

Read more about Margaret