*Big Hunger Games Voice* Our Top Six all survived cutoff and moved out of their Senate policy committees. That’s good news.
Other good news? The Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of the capital gains tax. Everyone agrees the capital gains tax is an excise tax on the absolute wealthiest people in our state. As planned, the state will get to use $500 million dollars a year the tax generates on Washington’s kids. That’s a big win.
FWIW the court also signaled a real understanding of how messed up Washington’s tax code is. The opinions were unusually firm and pointed at the inequity the tax code creates. And of course, despite this legal cover cover—nevermind their huge political mandate—legislative leadership seems content to sit on their hands.We’ve taken one, 3-10 year step. It’s time to take about 20 more.
With it being the home stretch, actions are thinning out, but read the updates below and check out the 4 gems we’ve sifted out of deep dark mine of the state budget.
💎 4 Gems in the Budget 💎
The Senate and House budgets were released this past week. You can find them both here (good luck reading them; somehow these two-year budget are longer than J.R. Tolkein’s collected works).
As we laid out last week, the process is shit: hearings are held within 24 hours of release (did we mention these things are long?) Obviously, that leaves very little room for public input.
Anyway, we’ve pulled out a few gems for you and one poop emoji.
💎 Universal Child Allowance Study: The budget includes a proviso for the Department of Children Youth and Families willto study the feasibility of implementing a universal child allowance, universal childcare and pre-K, universal parental leave, universal health care for children, and universal baby boxes (a box filled with diapers and formula, not a return shipping box for your baby). Shocker: free shit for babies is good for everyone. It’s past time we provided some support to families in Washington. This study is a step in the right direction!
💎 Citizenship Pathway for Permanent Legal Residents: Increases in the budget for the WA New Americans Network from $2Mto $4M a year will create and expand free citizenship clinics across the state. 240,000 legal permanent residents in Washington are eligible for citizenship. Many of them are not applying because it’s an expensive, complex, and difficult process. This gem helps lower the barriers and invites more legal permanent residents into American citizenship and voting!
💎 Cash Benefits Study: Giving families direct cash makes basically everything in their lives better because *surprise, surprise* they spend it on things their families need to thrive. While the legislature didn’t move forward a bill on Guaranteed Basic Income this year, they did include a budget proviso to evaluate the current cash and cash-equivalent benefits available in Washington in the hopes of simplifying and improving those programs.
💎 Social Wealth Fund Study: What does this mean? Social wealth funds are a great way to redistribute resources to and to share prosperity with all our communities. And in our state’s budget process, budget provisos for studies help shape future policy. One thing the study will likely look at is how Alaska already has a similar program: the Alaska Permanent Fund. Since the 1970s, Alaska residents have gotten an annual payout as a way to share the oil wealth flowing in the state. If you think that sounds super socialist, that’s because it is!
💩 Hella Money to the Police Again: Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) had a banner year securing millions of dollars with not a lick of community oversight. And while we love the dollars for important priorities like community mental health, we’d like to see those dollars go to state agencies instead where there is accountability and transparency, and the agents are not armed and have a well-documented history of murdering and assaulting our communities. It should be clear by now that the police aren’t best suited to deal with folks in crisis.
What do you think? Have any questions? Tweet us your thoughts @WACommAlliance.
Keep up on the action and opportunities to get involved through our legislative newsletter, The Tally.