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).
TodayThe Episcopal Diocese of Spokane released the following fact sheet:
The threat to clientsand operations of social services *
In challenging economictimes, with record high unemployment and foreclosures, the pressure is onsocial serviceproviders, whether or not they receive state funding, to meetenormous demand for housing assistance, medical care,food, and other crucialservices. In the midst of this challenge, Gov. ChristineGregoire is proposingfurther cuts to the Washington budget, much of whichcenters on state funding for Basic Health, public assistance, andotherservices for Washington's low-income people.
The proposed budgetcuts
* According to aSpokesman-Review
story published Oct.27, the cuts to social service programs would amount tonearly $381million around the state to child care, substance abuse treatment, and economicservices. Cuts to health careamounting to an additional $333 million mightinclude the elimination of Basic Health, and Disability Lifeline, bothcrucialservices tens of thousands of low-income people throughout the state. Publicschools would see cuts of $365million, including $150 million for levyequalization, increasing the tax burden on low-income areas. * Social service providers inSpokane
are currently gathering information about how the proposed cuts willaffect theiroperations and clients. It is not currently known exactly how manyin the Greater Spokane Area will be affected by thecuts, but they are sure tobe devastating to many of the city's poor, elderly, and sick, who depend onsocial serviceprograms.Manynon-profits and state agencies are already feeling increased pressure due toharsh economictimes, and further cuts to programs will make their tasks evenmore difficult, whether or not they receivestate funding.
What should be done?
* Legislators and otherelected officials should explore every avenue for reducing these cuts includingsmart use ofresources, increasing revenue, and closing tax loopholes. * Non-governmental charitiesand ministries are the last hope for those affected by cuts to publicly fundedservices.Citizens who are able can support local charities by contributingtime, talent, and financial support. They can also writeelected officialsprotesting these devastating cuts. Legislators need to know that the poor,elderly, children, and the sickmust be protected. * Contact legislators byvisitinghttp://www.leg.wa.gov/pages/home.aspx
or send a brief voice mail toyour legislatorsby calling the Legislative Hotline at800-562-6000
*Contact Gregoire athttp://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/default.asp
* For Gregoire'sOct. 28 letter to the Washington State Legislature:http://www.ofm.wa.gov/reductions/alternatives/gov_letter.pdf
Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.