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Sunday May 19, 2019
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March 29, 2019  
     
  2019-2021 State Budget Begins to Take Shape  
 

This week, House and Senate Committees introduced proposals for the state's 2019-2021 budget.  As mentioned last week, the WSCC is advocating for a final operating budget that expands availability of quality early learning and child care options, increases accessibility to community-based mental health programs, and supports the Housing and Essential Needs program (HEN).  For the Capital Budget, WSCC is advocating for an increase in the Housing Trust Fund.  
 
While there is much work to do before the budget is finalized, highlights of the proposals include:  
 
House Operating Budget

  • Provides an increase in $40 million to the Early Child Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), which would expand access to early learning for low income families.   
  • Adds $500 million to Behavioral Health programs, including $137 million to increase community-based mental health programs and $122 million for state hospitals.
  • Over $38 million in increases to address homelessness, including a $12.7 million increase in funding for the HEN program. (Thanks to all who responded to the action alert.)
  • Expands K-12 special education funding by $70 million.
Senate and House Capital Budget
  • The House and Senate proposals contain $150 million and $175 million respectively for the Housing Trust Fund.  This provides funds that enable organizations like Catholic Charities agencies to build affordable housing. Since the number of people without homes is still increasing, additional funding for the HTF is sorely needed.   
For more information on the various budget proposals, please visit:fiscal.wa.gov.
 
  Life and Liberty  
  WA Bishops: Remove Death Penalty from State Law  
 

Visiting the Capitol on Monday, Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo testified in support of SB 5339 to formally remove the state's unconstitutional death penalty from statute.  "The act of murder cries out for an appropriate punishment, but the death penalty merely adds violence to violence, and perpetuates the illusion that the taking of one human life for another can somehow balance the scales of justice," shared the Bishop.  When some members of the House Public Safety Committee raised Old Testament interpretations of capital punishment, Bishop Elizondo responded by highlighting that Jesus came to "perfect the law" and that Jesus is "totally in favor of life and defending every single human being."The text of Bishop Elizondo's opening remarks are available online and you may also watch his testimony and dialogue with lawmakers, via TVW.org(testimony begins at 48:40 and answers to subsequent questions conclude at 1:04:30).  The House Public Safety Committee is scheduled to vote on SB 5339 early next week - before the April 3rd cutoff.

 
  Social Justice  
  Take Action - SNAP Work Requirements  
  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is our nation's foremost anti-hunger program.  On February 1, 2019, the USDA released aproposed rule to increase SNAP work requirements which could lead to more than 755,000 individuals losing SNAP benefits over the next three years.  In their joint comments, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic Charities USA and Society of St. Vincent De Paul concluded that the "proposed rule undermines the clear intent of Congress, disrespects subsidiarity by superseding the states' role in setting standards for themselves, and will increase food insecurity and demands on the charitable sector." To read the entire joint comments, click here.
 
Tell the USDA to withdraw or modify the rule so that it protects access to necessary food and nutrition programs and adheres to the bipartisan policies implemented in the recently-passed 2018 Farm Bill.  Take Action Now - comment deadline is Tuesday, April 2.
 
  Education  
  School Safety Bill Approaches Final Hurdle in the House  
 

After compelling testimony from several Catholic school leaders, SB 5514 has passed out of committee.  The bill, which has received unanimous support from two separate committees and the Senate, now needs to be voted on by the House before delivery to the Governor.  SB 5514 is a bi-partisan effort to protect all students by requiring law enforcement to provide every school (public or private) with notifications to lockdown or evacuate during an emergency in a school's vicinity.  Many citizens and lawmakers are surprised to learn that this is not already state law.  Unfortunately, the WSCC has learned of many examples where schools haven't received any notification, as well as many examples when only one of two neighboring schools are notified. 
 
Help protect all students!  Call your representatives in the House and ask them to bring SB 5514 to a floor vote during the 1st week of April! Use the toll-free Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000.

 
  Upcoming Events  
  Walking + Witnessing for Migrant Families - April 29 to May 11
 
Catholic Immigration Summit, Seattle - June 8
 
Cornerstone Catholic Conference, Tacoma - October 18-19, 2019
 

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