Friday, November 11, 2011

Priorities for fall special session

Dear advocates,

Gov. Gregoire is calling legislators into special session on November 28 to deal with an expected budget shortfall. Revenue is not falling, but it isn’t recovering at the rate officials had hoped for. The governor is planning on $2 billion in spending reductions -- $1.4 billion to cover lower revenue and $600 million to maintain a reserve. Education and programs that support children’s health, safety and welfare could take a big hit.

The Washington State Parent Teacher Association asks the state to put children first.

All youth deserve the opportunity to be healthy and to have access to an education that will prepare them for college and career. Neither should depend on the color of their skin, their zip code or the income of their parents.

Our new economic reality means we have to adjust, but it can’t mean we abandon essential services or disinvest in our future.

Review both cuts and revenue
Washington State PTA supports a balanced approach to a supplemental budget. We ask the state to carefully review all spending, as well as all tax exemptions. Our association advocates for equitable, stable, and adequate revenue to meet the needs of all children, and we will carefully review all revenue options. We ask the legislature to do the same. Children’s needs must be covered and we will be engaged partners in making that happen.

Our priorities:
  1. Basic education: It is the paramount duty of the state to provide an ample education, and fully funding the program of basic education – as laid out HB 2261 and HB 2776 -- is the way forward. Reliance on local levies is inequitable, unstable, and legally questionable. 
  2. Children’s health: Apple Health for Kids bridges the gap of income, race, and geographic disparities, and keeps children healthy so that they can reach their full potential. The state must prioritize it.
  3. Children’s safety and well-being: This includes protecting children from domestic violence and ensuring they have food and shelter, as well as investments in early learning, K-12 reforms, juvenile justice and school nutrition.

We believe in making every child’s potential a reality. Protecting and investing in children is the moral thing to do and it just makes sense. They depend on us, and our future depends on them.

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