Voters Raise Wages for 730,000 Washingtonians; Federal Changes Could Threaten Washington’s Children and Families

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Voters Raise Wages for 730,000 Washingtonians; Federal Changes Could Threaten Washington’s Children and Families

By - November 10, 2016

In the November 8 election, voters in Washington state overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative to help working families in our state and strengthen our state economy. The passage of Initiative 1433 means more than 730,000 Washingtonians will get a raise in the next four years. Minimum wage workers 18 and older will earn $11 an hour starting in 2017, $11.50 in 2018, $12 in 2019, and $13.50 in 2020. They will also receive paid sick leave beginning 2018.

Washington was part of a larger movement nationwide to raise the minimum wage. We joined three other states – Colorado, Maine, and Arizona – in approving statewide minimum wage increases. (This, of course, is the result of a movement kicked off in our own state when citywide minimum wage increases were approved in SeaTac and Seattle in 2013 and 2014, respectively.) The voter initiatives in Arizona and Washington also included paid sick and safe days. In addition, voters in South Dakota rejected a referendum that would have lowered the statewide minimum wage by a dollar. And voters in Flagstaff, Arizona approved a phased-in $15 per hour minimum wage.

Budget & Policy Center research on the projected impact of I-1433 was referenced in multiple op-eds, editorials, and endorsements and played a key role in shaping the statewide conversation about the economic benefits of raising the minimum wage. Our analysis estimates the initiative will infuse $2.5 billion more into local economies. It will also directly benefit more than 360,000 Washington kids who live in families where one or more parent makes less than $13.50 per hour.

After Tuesday’s national election, our work together becomes much harder, and also even more important and urgent. Proposed federal policy changes to the Affordable Care Act, health care and safety net programs, tax policy, environmental policy, and other areas could significantly impact the state budget and threaten the well-being of Washington children and families. 

At the Budget & Policy Center, we stand together against racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant bias. We remain committed to advancing policies to expand opportunity for our state residents – to ensure we have great schools and to invest in programs that promote economic security, good jobs, and thriving communities.

Our state legislative agenda, which we are developing with our many community partners, will be released prior to the 2017 session. We will also work with partners across the country and at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to analyze proposed federal policy changes on Washingtonians and fight back against policy changes that would harm our economy, our communities, and our families.

In the meantime, the conversations at our Budget Matters conference next Wednesday, November 16, will focus on strengthening the movement to promote policies that advance racial equity, opportunity for all, and social and economic justice. It will be an opportunity for people who care about the future of Washington state to prepare for the next legislative session and strategize on how we can continue to build progressive wins in a new federal landscape. The registration deadline is tomorrow, Friday, November 11. We hope to see you there.

Note: This version of the blog post has been modified slightly from the original version to better emphasize the Budget & Policy’s role in responding to the national election.
About Misha Werschkul, Executive Director

As the leader of the Budget & Policy Center, Misha guides the organization’s strategic vision and ensures its position as a leading voice shaping the debate around budget priorities.

Read more about Misha