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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The budget cuts released yesterday by the Governor include several items that would only end up creating more costly problems down the road. This approach will diminish the quality of life for thousands of Washingtonians now and in the future. It also defers higher costs to the state that will inhibit our economic recovery going forward.

Budget cuts to state investments that focus on prevention and other longer-term benefits include the following:
  • The budget would suspend all funding ($13.9 million) for non-emergency dental care for adult clients of Medicaid. This will have a direct impact on the health of 120,000 Washingtonians. Further, by not funding prevention and early treatment, the budget will likely increase the need for more expensive emergency dental care in the future.
  • The budget proposes eliminating all state-funded early learning programs for three-year olds from lower income families ($10.5 million), directly affecting 1,500 children. High quality early learning programs set the stage for success in life and are expected to confer economic benefits to the state in the future.
  • The budget significantly reduces funding for the Water Quality Program, a cut that will damage our ability to plan for healthy water. Ensuring the quality of our water through preventing and cleaning up water pollution has a direct impact on human and environmental health in communities throughout the state. Neglecting this government responsibility will be costly to reverse.
  • The budget would mean that over 65,000 people would lose health coverage by eliminating the Basic Health program ($160.6 million) and sharply limit the availability of childcare assistance ($88.5 million) to working families. State investments in health insurance and childcare help to encourage and support employment for families that are struggling to stay out of poverty.
  • Family preservation services seek to preserve or reunite families. They assist families in crisis by improving parenting skills and family functioning. Children are protected while being able to remain in their own families. The Governor’s budget would slash funding for these programs in half ($5.9 million).
  • The budget would eliminate funding ($28.1 million) that reduces premature births and infant mortality by providing support for lower-income women with at-risk pregnancies. Without these support services, families and the state will inherit more costly problems down the road.

3 comments:

Erik said...

Yes! We need to make sure our legislators know that short term cuts will cost us waaaaay more in the future. Rock on Budget and policy center!

Michael Clifford said...

Do you have a proposal for where to get the funds? The governor has proposed tax increases (which I favor). You can't get something for nothing and these services are very essential and should be preserved. I'll also contact my legislators to let them know I would rather see a tax increase than cut services.

Jeff Chapman said...

Michael,

We agree that tax increases are necessary. Stay tuned to schmudget for more details on specific options. One idea we think is still worth considering is a sales tax increase combined with funding the Working Families Tax Rebate. For more info on that idea, see our paper from last spring.

Jeff