Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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Groups representing young people in Montana hope to stop a slate of election laws from going into effect before a June primary; Texas falls short on steps to prevent the next winter power outage.

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Democrats get voting rights legislation to Senate floor; Sec. of State Antony Blinken heads to Ukraine; a federal appeals court passes along a challenge to Texas' abortion ban.

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New website profiles missing and murdered Native Americans; more support for young, rural Minnesotans who've traded sex for food, shelter, drugs or alcohol; more communities step up to solve "period poverty;" and find your local gardener - Jan. 29 is National Seed Swap Day.

WA Workers to Lawmakers: Cuts Will Hurt Most Vulnerable

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Monday, November 30, 2020   

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington state workers say potential budget cuts will hurt Washingtonians.

Because of the pandemic, the state is facing a $3.3 billion dollar shortfall through 2023.

Agencies like the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) have been asked to determine what a 15% cut would look like.

Koastyantin Unguryan, a spoken-language interpreter who contracts with state agencies, helps folks access health care and is especially worried about a lack of interpreters during the pandemic.

"Without access to interpreters, the most vulnerable will be denied access to public services and also to health care and life-saving medical treatment," Unguryan asserted. "So it is a very big concern on my mind right now."

Unguryan believes lawmakers should look elsewhere for revenue, including fixing the state's regressive tax system in which low- and middle-income Washingtonians pay a far greater percentage of their wages in taxes than do high-income residents.

Larry Nelson, an DSHS adult protection services investigator from Spokane, investigates crimes such as financial exploitation of older Washingtonians. He's concerned cuts will lead to fewer investigators and more crime against vulnerable Washingtonians.

Nelson believes the work is his calling, considering himself like a sheepdog protecting the flock.

"The job that I'm in right now gives me a greater sense of satisfaction in that I'm able to advocate and help protect those who have difficulty protecting themselves," Nelson explained.

Matthew Cox, a transportation systems technician for the Washington Department of Transportation in Wenatchee, ensures highways are safe to drive through functioning traffic signs and signals.

His work is critical in natural disasters such as avalanches that block the highway. He says many people may not know that he and his colleagues are first responders.

"We're the ones who are operating the shift to keep the highway lanes open," Cox contended. "I'm concerned because budgetary cuts, if that comes to start cutting jobs or we have to start laying people off, then we're not going to be able to provide the service to the highway that the public has come to depend on and require."

The 2021 legislative session convenes January 11.

Disclosure: Washington Federation of State Employees - AFSCME Council 28 contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, and Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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