October 27, 2011
CONTACT: Anne Martens
BALANCE BUDGET BY ENDING TAX BREAKS AND RAISING REVENUE
Coalition calls on lawmakers to cut corporate welfare
instead of cutting our jobs and our families
In response to Governor Gregoire’s report on the devastation expected from another $2 billion in state budget cuts, members of the Our Economic Future coalition are asking lawmakers to stand up for Washington families by ending unfair tax breaks and raising revenue. (People affected by the cuts will be available for comment outside the Governor’s office in Olympia between 10am and noon)
“It’s not fair to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable. These cuts hit hardest on those most at risk and set our state down a path of deepening poverty and increased homelessness,” said Rachael Myers (206-442-9455) of the Washington LowIncome Housing Alliance.
“More cuts add insult to injury,” said Jon Gould (206-324-0340 x 19) of the Children’s Alliance. “With 58,000 more children in poverty in our state – enough to fill 2,320 classrooms – these cuts couldn’t come at a worse time for our state’s kids.”
During the last legislative session, the coalition pushed for eliminating tax breaks like the ones that benefit out-of-state banks and private jet owners. Since regular session ended, both an official legislative audit committee and a citizen’s committee agreed that Washington hands out too much corporate welfare in the form of tax breaks, and that many of those loopholes should be closed.
Two-thirds of legislators would have to work together in order to close any tax loopholes. Because such cooperation is considered unlikely, the coalition may ask for a referendum to the people.
“We are the 99 percent,”said Anne Martens, spokesperson for the coalition. “Are tax breaks for big banks more important than our children’s future? Most people would say no.”
Coming on top of the $10 billion that has already been slashed from our public services, this latest round of cuts will have devastating effects on Washington families and on our ability to recover from the recession.
“Child care providers like me make sure that parents can go to work,” said Kathy Yasi, a small business owner and SEIU925 member. “Cutting programs like Working Connections forces parents to give up their jobs and pushes them to rely even more on public programs. It’s backwards.”
While slashing public services appears to save money in the short-run, in fact it adds to the rolls of people who need those services, at a time when both our families and our public services are already overstretched.
“Everyone feels the effects of this economic crisis, but some of our neighbors—particularly children of color–feel it worse. Lawmakers need to take a balanced approach to the state budget, with a plan for revenue, to make sure our families can survive this economic crisis,” said Mr. Gould.
“It’s time to find revenue solutions if we want to make sure that parents can continue to work and rebuild our economy,” said Ms. Yasi.
People all over Washington are finding it harder and harder to get services or support because prior budget cuts have already closed health clinics, raised tuition, and cut off access to job training, environmental protection and public safety. With few good jobs and an economy still designed to benefit special interests, these service cuts are hitting hardest on those least able to afford it.
Peter Sanderson, a community mental health therapist and SEIU1199NW member, agreed. “So many of the youth I see have lost their mental health care already, and many have become homeless after trying to make it on their own. They are trying so hard to create a positive future, but we leave them on the street. In this kind of economy, we should be investing in programs that help people get back on their feet instead of cutting help when they need it most.”
Ms. Myers notes that, “thousands of families are sleeping on the streets every night and people who never thought they’d need help with housing are now facing the reality that they can’t make ends meet.”
Randy Revelle (206-216-2515) of the Washington State Hospital Association adds that, “these cuts will be felt for years to come. People with serious disabilities and mental illnesses will lose their health coverage. People living with diabetes, congestive heart failure, and psychosis will lose coverage for essential medications. Rural areas could lose all access to obstetrical services, ambulances, and inpatient hospital care. The impacts are staggering.”
An additional $2 billion in cuts could mean:
· Tuition at community colleges and four-year universities goes up even more.
· More teachers are laid off and Washington moves towards the biggest class sizes in the nation.
· All community health clinics will be closed.
· 18,000 home care workers lose their jobs, and the elderly and disabled they care for lose their care and their homes.
· 7,400 criminals are put back on the streets with no supervision.
· 55,000 people lose their alcohol and substance prevention treatment.
· 80,000 people lose their mental health, long-term care and disability services.
While ending unfair tax breaks would not fill our gaping budget hole, it would ward off the worst of the cuts and provide sparse public services for the most vulnerable among us.
In order to really invest in schools, colleges, small businesses and public services that support a strong economy, we need to have a serious discussion about raising revenue.
The Our Economic Future Coalition represents more than 150 organizations concerned about deep budget cuts to core services. The Coalition is calling on lawmakers to find a more responsible and balanced approach to closing the current budget gap that includes closing tax loopholes and identifying new sources of revenue. www.oureconomicfuture.org.
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