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WA Budget Cuts Could Devastate In-Home Caregivers

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Olga García is among the in-home caregivers concerned about how Washington state budget cuts will affect their clients and their livelihood. (SEIU 775)
Olga García is among the in-home caregivers concerned about how Washington state budget cuts will affect their clients and their livelihood. (SEIU 775)
 By Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA - Producer, Contact
December 15, 2020

SEATTLE -- Caregivers are calling on Washingtonians who cheered on health care workers when the pandemic began to oppose state cuts to care services.

The Service Employees International Union Local 775's "You Clapped. Now Act!" campaign is calling on lawmakers to rethink the proposed $1.1 billion cut to the Department of Social and Health Services for the 2021 to 2023 budget.

Olga Garcia is an in-home caregiver in Sedro-Woolley, a city in northern Washington. She said she's helping her client stay in her home.

"There's no way that she would be able to do anything on her own, and she's scared," Garcia said. "She doesn't want to go to a nursing home or somewhere else. She likes where she lives and she likes to have us go in there and care for her."

SEIU 775 says the cuts put 10,000 in-home caregivers' jobs at risk, and another 10,000 older people and people with disabilities could be kicked off home-care services. It also could mean 2,800 people will be kicked out of the nursing homes where they live.

Policymakers have proposed the cut because the state faces a $3.3 billion shortfall due to COVID-19.

SEIU 775 notes the cuts disproportionately affect communities of color as both patients and workers. Garcia said many of her co-workers are single mothers.

"Cutting these budgets is not an option for us," she said. "It'll devastate me, coming home and having to put food on the table for my child, having to have a roof over my head. I mean, I'm not going to live in my car."

She believes the state should change its regressive tax system, which puts a much larger tax burden on low-income Washingtonians compared with wealthy ones.

"We have a lot of wealthy residents here in Washington, and I think that they're not paying their fair share," she said. "They're going on our backs, and that's not fair for us."

Disclosure: SEIU 775 contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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