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WA Group Urges Lawmakers to Resist Austerity, Invest in 'Public Good'

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Tuesday, December 6, 2022   

The Washington state 2023 legislative session is fast approaching, and one group is urging lawmakers to prioritize investments over budget cuts.

Traci Underwood, policy director with the Seattle-based nonprofit Economic Opportunity Institute, said the federal government and the state have made major investments in public welfare during the pandemic.

She said policies such as the federal Child Tax Credit, which reduced child poverty to record lows, and stimulus checks helped families through difficult times.

"What we know from all of that is that they have had massive positive impacts on people and households and families, and we need to continue to do that," Underwood said. "Now's not the time to step back. The problem's not fixed."

While factors such as inflation and high fuel costs could persuade lawmakers that cuts are needed to keep the economy going, Underwood noted the state needs to address massive wealth and racial disparities.

She said legislators should invest in programs that improve the public good, not automatically start with budget cuts.

"Affordable and accessible health care, fair taxes that provide ample funding for these programs," she said, "Stable and dignified work for all people - so thinking about family paid medical-leave funding and language access, and child care compensation."

Underwood added that lawmakers also should invest in programs that create economic stability, such as a guaranteed income pilot project and establishing baby bonds, which would create a pool of money for children that they could access when they turn 18.

Underwood said everybody deserves to live safe and stable lives.

"Right now, that's really tenuous for a lot of people," she said. "And so, we have the means, we have the ability to make this happen, which is exciting, and so that's something that I hope that we all work towards this coming legislative session."

The legislative session begins on January 9th.

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


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