Today at 6:30 p.m. Holy Trinity Spokane is hosting an emergency meeting with the social services and the faith communities to discuss the proposed state budget cuts (you can read details here). Today The Episcopal Diocese of Spokane released the following fact sheet:
The threat to clients and operations of social services
• In challenging economic times, with record high unemployment and foreclosures, the pressure is on social service providers, whether or not they receive state funding, to meet enormous demand for housing assistance, medical care, food, and other crucial services. In the midst of this challenge, Gov. Christine Gregoire is proposing further cuts to the Washington budget, much of which centers on state funding for Basic Health, public assistance, and other services for Washington’s low-income people.
The proposed budget cuts
• According to a Spokesman-Review story published Oct. 27, the cuts to social service programs would amount to nearly $381 million around the state to child care, substance abuse treatment, and economic services. Cuts to health care amounting to an additional $333 million might include the elimination of Basic Health, and Disability Lifeline, both crucial services tens of thousands of low-income people throughout the state. Public schools would see cuts of $365 million, including $150 million for levy equalization, increasing the tax burden on low-income areas.
• Social service providers in Spokane are currently gathering information about how the proposed cuts will affect their operations and clients. It is not currently known exactly how many in the Greater Spokane Area will be affected by the cuts, but they are sure to be devastating to many of the city’s poor, elderly, and sick, who depend on social service programs. Many non-profits and state agencies are already feeling increased pressure due to harsh economic times, and further cuts to programs will make their tasks even more difficult, whether or not they receive state funding.
What should be done?
• Legislators and other elected officials should explore every avenue for reducing these cuts including smart use of resources, increasing revenue, and closing tax loopholes.
• Non-governmental charities and ministries are the last hope for those affected by cuts to publicly funded services. Citizens who are able can support local charities by contributing time, talent, and financial support. They can also write elected officials protesting these devastating cuts. Legislators need to know that the poor, elderly, children, and the sick must be protected.
• Contact legislators by visiting http://www.leg.wa.gov/pages/home.aspx or send a brief voice mail to your legislators by calling the Legislative Hotline at 800-562-6000
• Contact Gregoire at http://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/default.asp or call 360-902-4111
• For Gregoire’s Oct. 28 letter to the Washington State Legislature: http://www.ofm.wa.gov/reductions/alternatives/gov_letter.pdf
• For more information about the Budget Alternatives, visit the Washington State Governor’s website: http://www.ofm.wa.gov/reductions/alternatives/default.asp
Are you going to this meeting, why or why not?