“We are caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality; tied to a single garment of destiny. What affects one directly, affects all indirectly. As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be rich even if he has a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people can not expect to live more than twenty or thirty years, no man can be totally healthy, even if he just got a clean bill of health from the finest clinic in America. Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968
Your FCWPP representatives were busy during the first weeks of this 2003 legislative session presenting the Secure Society Campaign and asking legislators what their vision of a secure society looks like. We found that no legislator wants to find children on the street, or the unemployable left without support, or citizens without basic health care. We even found that many acknowledge the need for state tax structure reform in order to adequately and fairly fund state services. The problem for these persons is their constituency.
Although Washington’s tax system is the most unfair in the nation and Governor Locke’s budget would devastate the poor, the young, the aged, and the disabled, almost NO ONE is complaining! The legislature is not hearing from the poor, and they’re hearing very little from the middle class. Meanwhile, despite cuts to human services, dozens of bills introducing corporate tax breaks have already appeared in Olympia. Early in the session, Senator Rosa Franklin (D-Tacoma) introduced several new revenue bills that take into account recommendations from a commission the legislature itself convened last year (SB 5056, 5057, SJR 8200.) Senators Kline, Thibaudeau and Kohl Wells have also joined in one or more of these bills. These are the kinds of bills that deserve top priority.
Sure, lobbyists and advocates are doing their best, but legislators need to hear from you. Please let people know what’s going on in our state capitol and urge them to contact legislators to complain – and don’t forget to contact them yourself! With the depth and breadth of cuts to human services presented in the Governor’s budget proposal, some legislators are beginning to re-think the issue. But they will not find the courage to raise new revenue, unless we ask.
SOME CUTS IN GOVERNOR’S BUDGET:
Health Care — approximately $ 1,000 million
Suspend next steps in education initiatives — $450 million
Health coverage for 60,000 low-wage workers — $328 million
Higher Education — $ 94 million
Community Mental Health — $ 60 million
Children’s Services — $ 60 million
End General Assistance for Unemployable adults — $ 40 million
Governor Locke’s budget and its dramatic cuts in health care and education are symptomatic of the cuts that are necessary without additional revenue. He has “proposed a budget that would eliminate state-subsidized healthcare for 60,000 people.“By eliminating 60,000 childless adults, the proposed budget “slashes” the state’s Basic Health Plan, which subsidizes health insurance for those who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford insurance…. The proposed cuts will “hammer already overloaded emergency rooms—and harm people who don’t have the clout to speak up for themselves,” according to health professionals. (The Olympian).
With respect to education, the Governor’s budget “represents a step backwards on the road to school improvement, and it is inconsistent with the Governor’s stated priorities. We need gubernatorial leadership in keeping the commitment to students and schools. Instead, Gov. Locke’s budget cuts more than $600 million in public school funding, jeopardizing the continued success of our state’s students.” (Eastside Journal, Opinion)
Send your three legislators (two Representatives and one Senator) and your Governor the message below and tell them why you care about this issue.
“I am willing to see tax increases in order to prevent cuts to services for children, marginal working families, the disabled, and the unemployable. I encourage you to get beyond piecemeal fixes and get to the root of the problem – providing basic security to all citizens in Washington through a fair and adequate revenue system. I support elimination of special interest tax exemptions and favor a revenue system where higher income citizens pay at least as high a percentage of their income as citizens with moderate and low incomes.”
P.S. Senator Rossi (R-Sammamish) chairs the Ways and Means Committee where Senator Franklin’s bills reside. The Ways and Means Committee has done nothing to clear the other bills for a public hearing Encourage your legislators to implore Senator Rossi to schedule a work session and a public hearing on these vital revenue options.
According to the recently released study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Washington’s low- and moderate-income families are taxed at a much higher rate than better off households. The lowest income families—those earning less than $17,000 a year-pay 17.6% of their income in state and local taxes; while those making more than $922,000 a year pay only 3.3%. For a summary, click here:
OTHER BILLS TO WATCH:
¨ SB 5635: Introduced by Senator Kline (D-Seattle) Death Penalty Moratorium (Encourage your House Representatives to introduce a companion bill)
¨ SB 5186, SB 5418, and HB 1401 have been introduced in the 2003 legislature to phase out Washington’s estate tax by 2005. Washington has the most unequal tax burden in the nation, with low income residents paying five times what the wealthy pay for every dollar earned. The estate tax is one of the few progressive taxes we have. In this time of budget deficits, with major cuts proposed in education, social services, and health care, the estate tax is an essential component of our state tax structure. See http://www.econop.org/TaxPolicy-WAEstate.htm
CITIZENS LOBBY DAY IN OLYMPIA
An all day event, Thursday February 20, 2003
Join hundreds of citizen lobbyists to learn about what the legislature is doing to strengthen or weaken our environmental protections.
Legislation update & lobbying workshop
From 9:30 – noon we will meet at the United Churches Of Olympia, 110 East 11th for:
¨ Remarks from key legislators
¨ Environmental legislation update from lobbyists
¨ Lobbying skills workshop
Meet your own legislators
After the workshop, citizen lobbyists – you! – Will meet with your own legislators. Appointments will be pre-scheduled with most legislators. This information will be available to you after you register.
Please bring your own lunch and a mug – snacks and beverages provided in the morning and at an afternoon reception. Each Lobby Day participant will receive a briefing book complete with legislation briefing sheets, legislator information, and lobbyist contacts. For this and morning snacks, there is a $10 requested donation.
Use http://dfind.leg.wa.gov/dfinder.cfm to find out who your legislators are. Go to http://www.leg.wa.gov/wsladm/ses.htm for extensive online information on legislators, legislation, our State Constitution and existing state law, among many other things.
How to Contact Your Governor:
Call: (360) 902-4111
Governor Gary Locke
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
How to Contact Your Legislators:
Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or
Write your Senator and representatives at:
PO Box 4048
Olympia, WA 98504-0482
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
On the web at: http://www.leg.wa.gov/ follow the link to the Senate or House, and click on your member’s name to get their e-mail address.