These words from Senator Brown came shortly before 1am on Saturday morning after Senate Republicans, with the assistance of three Democrats, took over the Senate floor using an arcane parliamentary procedure and passed a shameful all-cuts budget.
The budget passed early Saturday morning is, indeed, incredibly harmful to low-income women across the state. The Senate’s budget makes $202 million in cuts to our state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This includes an additional 2% grant cut, lowering the lifetime limit to 48 months, and a loss of 4,000 child care slots.
Knowing that the public supports a safety net for our state’s most vulnerable, these lawmakers kept their budget proposal quiet, held no hearings on it, and forced a vote before most lawmakers even had a chance to read the proposal. Now that we can actually read this budget, here are the details on the over $350 million in cuts to the state’s safety net:
• It cuts funding for our state’s struggling families, those who are on TANF, by $202 million.
• It eliminates the Disability Lifeline Medical program for 15,000 low-income disabled adults.
• It eliminates the State Food Assistance Program, which provides food to 12,000 immigrant families each month.
• It cuts more than $40 million from the Housing and Essential Needs program.
This is unacceptable. This is an attack on our state’s commitment to care for all Washingtonians, regardless of income. As if that’s not enough, the budget passed by the Senate on Saturday morning directly contradicts the public testimony and presence of thousands of citizens who came to Olympia or contacted legislators urging them to protect the safety net.
We still have a chance to make a difference. This budget, while shameful, still needs to go to the House for concurrence. Your lawmakers in both the House and the Senate need to hear from you today.
Lawmakers must see these messages everywhere they look: in their inboxes, in their voicemails, and in their local papers. Please take these three actions now!
1. Send them an email and urge them to stand strong for our state’s safety net.
2. Call them at 1.800.562.6000 and tell them that you support a budget for all Washingtonians.
3. Use our template to send a letter to the editor of your paper in support of low-income women and children, in support of people with disabilities, and in support of our immigrant and refugee communities.
Marcy Bowers is Director of Solid Ground’s Statewide Poverty Action Network, which builds grassroots power to end causes of poverty and create opportunities for everyone to prosper.