What can government do for us, other than fuel the 24-hour news cycle and generate a lot of upsetting tweets?
Lots, as it turns out.
First off, we’re still reeling from last year’s United Way’s policy work successes.
- More kids have access to healthy breakfast. They passed Breakfast After the Bell so kids can eat in the classroom—and we’re helping take the program statewide.
- WA has housing voucher program that doesn’t discriminate. The number of available vouchers increased thanks to revenue from document recording fees. We also helped pass bills prohibiting discrimination against families using housing vouchers to pay rent, families using Social Security Income and other public income.
- Cash welfare has been restored. We lobbied to increase cash welfare payments that the legislature cut during the recession. Restoring these amounts ensures low-income families going through hard times can stay in their homes.
Come January, we will build on that success. United Way of King County’s Board has just adopted the state and federal legislative priorities that we’ll take to Olympia in 2019:
- More young adults complete their education. Open Doors legislation allows education dollars to follow disconnected students (aka, students who have dropped out for any reason) back to reconnection centers. There, they can obtain a high school diploma or GED. We’d like to see these funds expanded to support year-round programs. We’ll ask the Legislature to enable public dollars to be used flexibly to reduce students’ barriers to attending school, which is some of what United Way’s investments in Reconnecting Youth do now. We also advocate for low-income two-year college students on creating wrap-around supports to help students persist in achieving a degree.
- Stop the tax structure from preying on low-income families. We’re fighting for the Working Families Tax Rebate, which mitigates the effects of Washington’s regressive tax structure. That way, our lowest-income families to keep more of their earnings.
- Reform state eviction regulations to be more fair. Families currently have 3-days notice for evictions. We need to provide more time for nonprofits that receive United Way Streets to Home funding, and to ensure that evictions aren’t based on discrimination. We’re advocating for increased funding for housing vouchers for disabled people, and we’re supporting an innovative proposal to allow cities to bond against state sales tax revenue to build more affordable housing.
Our advocacy work ensures that tax dollars are working smart and able to partner well with the private funds raised by United Way so they can do the most good.