The state Senate operating and capital budgets proposed in the past two weeks would cut housing, health care and child care for vulnerable citizens in these ways:
• Eliminating the Aged, Blind and Disabled program.
• Cutting state homelessness programs by 52 percent.
• Increasing the number of people experiencing homelessness during the 2013-2015 biennium by 20,400 more people.
• Drastically cutting a variety of safety net programs like Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Working Connections Child Care.
• Significantly cutting the Housing Trust Fund
While an education-focused budget for K-12 and higher education will help solve many of the state’s structural problems in the future, the Senate’s budget damages others whose deep poverty and homelessness will defeat the efforts of the best of schools or whose disability, advanced age or blindness means they cannot support themselves.
Housing stability, along with the other fundamental needs of humans, is essential for a child to learn in school, mature emotionally and prepare for the next steps in life. If these children do not have a safe, healthy, affordable home, their chances for success – even with millions invested in K-12 public education – are small.
These budgets are neither prudent nor balanced in what they ask and what they confer. In the consequences to our state’s children and the most vulnerable of Washington residents, the budgets can do better.
(Brown is executive director of the Tacoma Pierce County Affordable Housing Consortium.)