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Advocacy

Advocacy
United Ways of the Pacific Northwest
2019-2021 State Legislative Framework

Adopted September 2018

United Ways of the Pacific Northwest represents 21 local United Ways in Washington committed to mobilizing the caring power of communities to advance the common good and improve lives. Healthy families keep our communities strong. We advocate for these critical public and private investments to help build wellbeing for all families:

Build Economic Mobility for Struggling Families and Individuals

Agenda Item

Fund the working families tax credit and expand eligibility to more low-wage workers. This credit will provide critical tax relief to low-income workers who pay the largest percentage of their income for sales tax.

Results

The centerpiece of this agenda item, the Working Family Tax Credit, gained momentum this year with hearings in the House and Senate. The family credit was included in a Senate tax reform proposal that did not have enough votes to pass. Such a major reform is going to require more time.  Meanwhile, the approved budget (pending Governor signature) increased funding by 25 percent for the Housing and Essential Needs.  This program provides rental, utility, transportation assistance and hygiene supplies to very low-income adults . Also, the Legislature passed, and supported in the budget, HB 1603 (which we've been following on our tracking list). This bill eliminates the ability to permanently disqualify households from receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and extends the TANF time limit for recipients who experience homelessness.

Increase Access, Affordability, and Quality of Early Learning Programs and Resources

Agenda Items

• Improve childcare affordability, access and quality for all Washington families.

• Improve Kindergarten readiness for all Washington children by expanding access to high quality early learning opportunities.

• Support early learning providers and their workforce with the resources needed to attract and retain talent and ensure provider availability across the state for working families.

Results

The Legislature affirmed its support of quality, affordable and accessible child care with the adoption of HB 1344, calling for a regional assessment of the child care industry by July of next year and the development of a phased implementation plan for improving the Working Connections Child Care program, which provides subsidized child care to working families in need. The Legislature also approved SB 5437, which expands access to the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program and creates an early childhood pilot program for birth to three year old children.  The state's budget makes it possible for an additional 1170 children to benefit from early childhood education.

End Homelessness and Increase Access to Affordable Housing

Agenda Items

• Secure and increase funding for programs that prevent and end the crisis of homelessness.

• Provide policy and resource incentives to boost the creation of more affordable housing.

• Ensure adequate supportive housing resources such as behavioral health services for people impacted by chronic homelessness.

• Invest a historically-high level in the Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve affordable housing across the state.

Results

The Legislature approved a capital budget with the largest ever two-year funding for the Housing Trust Fund ($175 million) capable of building nearly 5,000 more affordable homes across the state. Leveraging that funding is a new source of income for local communities to build affordable homes. HB 1406 provides a revenue sharing option for local governments dedicated to affordable housing. Two other bills amend the state's Residential Landlord-Tenant Act by allowing tenants 14 days (instead of three) to catch up on late rent before eviction (SB 5600) and by providing 60 days notice (instead of 30 days) regarding rent increases (HB 1440)

Fully Fund the 2-1-1 Call System to Ensure Access to Critical Human Services and Resources

Agenda Item

• Provide robust funding to support the statewide 2-1-1 system, which coordinates public and private, faith based and nonprofit services to connect people in need with the resources   they require before costly emergencies develop and to help divert calls from 9-1-1.

Results

The Legislative budget provided a $1 million over its base funding Washington 211 received $1 million -- getting that system a long way toward handling the system's call growth.

A big thank you and congratulations to the United Way lobbyist Nick Federici who played a key role in pushing funding for Washington 2-1-1 and housing to the finish line. This is an excellent time to contact your legislators and thank them for their hard work and long hours during the session and their support for the United Way agenda promoting health families and strong communities.