- Policy Priorities
- Resources & Tools
- Schmudget Blog
- About Us
- News & Events
- Get Involved
Proposals are a good start, but lawmakers must invest more in communities of color and create new tax revenue
In the supplemental budget proposals they released earlier this week, the House and Senate both made important new investments. The House plan in particular does a great job addressing some of Washingtonians’ most urgent needs – proposing bigger investments in housing, early learning, and economic security for families with low incomes. Here are three high-level takeaways from both budget proposals:
Leaders in the House and Senate signaled that they are serious about advancing the well-being of kids, families, and people experiencing homelessness and housing instability in their budget proposals. Both the House and Senate make important investments in the following areas:
These important investments in economic security are essential to supporting the well-being of people across the state, but lawmakers fell short of making direct investments in communities of color. They failed to fund the Communities of Concern Commission and to support community-led efforts to address violence against Native women and girls. Investing in the Communities of Concern Commission would support communities that have been historically targeted for disinvestment to build and strengthen key foundations (like affordable housing, community and cultural centers, and health care clinics). And funding a community-led statewide task force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls would bring Native American and Alaska Native communities closer to justice.
It’s great news that the House and Senate proposals included funding for a statewide Office of Equity to help state officials reduce systemic disparities within government agencies. In their final budget, lawmakers should bolster this important step toward advancing equity by also directly investing in communities themselves.
The budget proposals in both chambers demonstrate lawmakers’ commitment to investing in our communities, but the House proposal offers an overall stronger approach. Most notably, the House budget proposal:
The latest budget proposals fell short of proposing new tax revenue that could have been used to clean up the tax code and fund community investments. This session, lawmakers relied on a positive revenue forecast with a large, one-time windfall to fund modest investments in community needs. But long-term, sustainable investments require new revenue sources. Closing the tax break on capital gains – profits from the sale of corporate stocks, bonds, and other financial assets – is a practical way to generate a billion dollars a year for community investments statewide.
House and Senate leaders also missed an opportunity to fund a modern and equitable Working Families Tax Credit to balance the tax code for Washingtonians with lower incomes. The Working Families Tax Credit can provide a meaningful boost in income to approximately 1 million households across the state. Moreover, the credit would offset the effect of an inequitable tax code for Washingtonians in the lowest-income tax group, who currently pay six times more of their share of incomes in state and local taxes than the wealthiest Washingtonians.
House and Senate leaders can and should do more to ensure communities are fully funded to meet their potential and that all Washingtonians can thrive, regardless of background.