In December 2021, we announced a bold legislative agenda that built upon our wins for families, mothers, and caregivers. We set out to ask our lawmakers to expand on historic wins and to continue to put equity at the forefront of new legislation. Many of us tracked what was happening at momsrising.org/equitableexpansions and took action in the ways that we could knowing that no action is too small.
With everything that's going on across the world and across the country, it can be hard to look at state politics and their impact. For the next few minutes, I’d like for you to reflect on the activities of the Legislature and know that we made a difference. If you signed a petition, forwarded an email or shared information with a community member, or went on the Washington State Legislature’s website to “sign in PRO” of legislation that will set the course for future laws – you made a difference! Please know that these actions are a part of a larger national and global movement to recognize that families, women, caregivers, and social safety nets matter.
We worked together this session to raise awareness on our priorities by virtually testifying, working with the press, and sending emails. All of this paid off because last week, the 2022 legislative session wrapped up and during the final days of session we won key investments in our legislative priorities. Here is how they did:
- Early Learning Investments: the legislature made investments for child care centers, family home providers, and child care co-pays for families such as: a 16% percent rate increase for centers that participate in Working Connections Child Care, a cost of care adjustment and funding the collective bargaining agreement for family home providers, and a retroactive waiving for copayments for families for the months of July - September 2021. For our states’ proven high-quality Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), there were a variety of investments including new slots, conversion of three hour slots to six hour slots, summer slots, and supporting quality (e.g., funding program curriculum).
- Equity and Representation in Policy Work 2SSB 5793 (Sen. C. Wilson): passage of legislation which allows stipends to be paid to people from low-income communities and with lived experiences to serve on legislative work groups. $250,000 is included in the budget to begin implementation.
- Paid Family and Medical Leave 2SSB 5649 (Sen. Robinson): stipulated seven calendar days of paid leave is allowed following the death of a family member and investments to set up actuarial services and to stabilize the program. An investment of $350 million was included in the budget for Paid Family Medical Leave.
- Ensuring an equitable and informative rollout of the Working Families Tax Credit: $10 million for Working Families Tax Credit outreach was funded.
- Championing Washington State’s first ever diaper subsidy SSB 5838 (Sen. Nobles): provides an additional $100 in cash assistance for families receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) who have a child aged 0-3 in the family.
And yes, there's still work to do. Several MomsRising priorities did not make it to final passage including:
- the authorization of dental therapy across the state.
- unemployment insurance protections so that working parents who lose their jobs due to loss of child care are not penalized.
- the creation of a guaranteed basic income program.
- a new source for progressive revenue: a 1% tax on financial assets in excess of $1 billion to fund social safety nets.
Alongside you, we will be working hard through the interim to continue to build policies that support families, mothers, and caregivers. We will also be working diligently to organize and advocate to maintain our state’s first capital gains tax – our state’s main source of funding for early learning and child care.
We know from experience that we don't get everything on our priority list, but the opportunity and challenge with advocacy is stamina. For instance, heading into an election year, we know there will be changes in the makeup of the Legislature. That is an opportunity to continue raising awareness.
When setbacks happen, we are reminded of the history of other policies we worked on together like the Working Families Tax Credit. It didn’t become legislation in 2020, but through our collective efforts thousands of us continued to socialize the idea with community members. We took actions together. We did what we could – no matter how small we may have felt our contributions were – even during the start of a global pandemic and saw this tax credit pass into law in 2021. This year, our collective efforts passed a $10 million investment in outreach for this direct cash assistance program.
I know this doesn’t happen for every piece of legislation, but I wanted to close by sharing this example of the power in numbers and again, that no action is too small.
Thank you for continuing to care about the well-being of families, mothers, and caregivers here in Washington State as this movement also continues across the nation and world.