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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

WA Child-Care Workers Get Wage Boost, Health Coverage

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021   

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- This session, Washington state lawmakers approved a major investment in child care and its workers.

The state budget provides $360 million for child-care grants, including $36 million in increased compensation for about 10,000 child-care workers across the state.

Luc Jasmin, co-owner of Parkview Early Learning Center in Spokane president of the Washington Childcare Centers Association, said most of the compensation funds will be distributed this year.

"This is the biggest investment from our state in early learning, ever," Jasmin asserted. "And it took some time. It took a lot of people, it took legislators who understood the importance of early learning, but we've got to keep it going."

Jasmin noted the funding includes subsidies to help more families afford care. The budget also includes $30 million for health coverage for about 15,000 workers, premium-free, through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Coverage is expected to be available by September.

John Burbank, executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, said wages for child-care workers stagnated after the Great Recession when legislators made big cuts to the budget. But he pointed out they've taken a different approach during the pandemic.

"Legislators realized that fundamental to high-quality child care was respect for and compensation of child-care workers, which has not been at the center of their agenda for a long, long time," Burbank remarked.

Burbank added the increased investment in child care is also an investment in a more equitable Washington, since it helps a workforce made up disproportionately of women and people of color.

Disclosure: Economic Opportunity Institute contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Early Childhood Education, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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