Overtime in Olympia: What Happened?

By United Way of King County, on August 5, 2015 | In News

There’s good news for human services from Olympia this year, and these wins were not at all assured early in the legislative session, when advocates worried that the Supreme Court’s mandate to adequately fund basic education would be achieved through drastic human services reductions. The legislature delivered admirably, showing an understanding that children need homes, food and a basic level of security to thrive in school and life.

United Way of King County’s legislative priorities fared well overall, despite the notable loss of our signature legislation, Breakfast After the Bell.

Giving Kids an Equal Chance

Passage of the Early Start Act marks an historic investment in early learning in Washington. The Early Start Act:

  • Ensures that children with child care subsidies will attend quality programs through the Early Achievers quality rating system,
  • Increases wages for providers in subsidized settings that achieve quality rating levels, and
  • Funds provider training and 12-month authorization of child care subsidies.

The hard work and leadership of Representative Kagi (Shoreline) and Senator Litzow (Bellevue) made this win possible.

There was remarkable consensus around early learning funding this session, and agreement between budget writers Representative Hunter (Bellevue) and Senator Hill (Redmond) and champions Representative Senn (Bellevue) and Senator Litzow to increase home visiting dollars by $2 million deserves our thanks.

Ending Homelessness

Two bills to prevent and address youth homelessness passed early in the session:

  1. The Homeless Youth Act maintains critical services for homeless youth and sets a goal that state programs will not discharge youth into homelessness.
  2. Extended Foster Care allows medically fragile youth to remain in foster care until age 21.

Many thanks to Representatives Kagi and Orwall (Des Moines) and Senators Fain (Auburn) and O’Ban (Tacoma) for championing these bills.

In addition, the Housing Trust Fund was supported in the Capital Budget with a robust allocation, and authorizing language has been made more flexible to ensure all funds can be spent. Join us in thanking Representative Derek Stanford (Shoreline) and Speaker Frank Chopp (Seattle) for their hard work on the Housing Trust Fund.

Keeping Families Stable

The 2-1-1 system’s infrastructure funding was threatened. United Way is the largest single supporter of 211’s operations, but state dollars are essential to the backbone database and phone system technology.

We are so grateful to Representatives Springer (Kirkland) and Hunter, and Senator Hill for preserving 2-1-1 funding.

To e-mail your thanks, contact representatives with the e-mail link by their names here and senators here.

Thank you for responding to our Action Alerts throughout the session and making your communities’ voices heard!

We’re already making plans to communicate with legislators during the interim about the importance of our unaddressed priorities. Despite the loss of Breakfast After the Bell, United Way’s new focus on Nutrition Hubs will, with your help, ensure hungry kids start school with adequate nutrition.


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