(Everett, WA) – As legislators met in Olympia for the start of the 60-day 2012 legislative session, United Way of Snohomish County released its legislative priorities with a focus on kids, seniors and healthcare.
“Our state is facing a $1.5 billion deficit. We are concerned about how potential budget cuts will affect Snohomish County,” said Dr. Dennis Smith, President and CEO of United Way of Snohomish County. “It is not enough to support our community by supporting local non-profit agencies and establishing our own initiatives. We also need to be strong advocates for good public policy.”
The priorities document is a result of several months of deliberations and careful consideration by United Way’s vision councils, public policy committee, board of directors, and other volunteer committees. Although a number of issue areas were considered by the organization’s lead volunteers, the focus on kids, seniors and healthcare emerged as consensus priorities.
“Our legislative priorities are not that different from our overall goals,” said Katrina Ondracek, Vice President of Public Policy & Community Initiatives. “All of our work is focused on the building blocks of a good life: successful kids, financially stable families and healthy communities. It should be no surprise that we’re focusing on kids, seniors and healthcare. We’re not looking for new programs in these areas. We’re just hoping to maintain the investments our state has already made.”
In addition to these three priority areas, United Way of Snohomish County’s Board of Directors and its grantee agencies have endorsed Governor Gregoire’s proposal for a half-cent sales tax increase to support education, public safety and social services.
Here are the organization’s priorities and particular areas of concern for the 2012 Legislative Session:
Support opportunities that allow children and youth to enter school ready to learn, succeed while in school and graduate on-time by:
1) Maintaining eligibility for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program for three and four year olds;
2) Maintaining eligibility for Working Connections Child Care at 175 percent of the federal poverty level and direct any TANF savings to reducing the wait list for WCCC; and
3) Maintaining existing afterschool programming, including transportation, tutoring and mentoring.
Maintain funding to support services such as information & assistance, transportation, nutrition caregiver support and other local services for seniors with particular concern for the potential:
1) Change in eligibility requirements for people with developmental disabilities and others needing long-term care;
2) Reduction in funding for the Senior Citizens Services Act, and
3) Elimination of funding for Adult Day Health.
Maintain important health insurance options such as Basic Health and Apple Health for Kids with particular concern for the potential:
1) Change in eligibility for Children’s Health;
2) Suspension of adult Medicaid pharmacy benefits;
3) Elimination of Disability Lifeline;
4) Elimination of the Medically Needy Medicaid program; and
5) Elimination of the Basic Health Plan.
For more information and updates on these and other issues related to United Way’s advocacy efforts, please visit our website at http://www.uwsc.org/advocate.php