«

»

Mar 06

A Message from Rep. Hasegawa – March 5

Dear Neighbors,

I know many of you are wondering about the recent actions that took place in the Senate late on Friday afternoon.  In the coming days we’ll be learning more about the impacts of these actions, but for now I wanted to send you the statement that was released by Speaker Frank Chopp.

**************************************************************************

Statement from Speaker Frank Chopp on the Republican actions in the Senate:

“The Senate Republicans have exercised the worst abuse of power I have ever witnessed in the legislature.  It says something about them that the minute they gained power, they abused it.

“They immediately moved to run over the minority on the floor by denying them the right to even see the budget bill before asking them to vote on it. 

“They immediately turned their backs on the rights of the people by dismissing all calls for public testimony.  Yes, the party that regularly decries the lack of transparency in the legislature cut the public out of the process completely.

“As for their budget proposal, from what little we’ve heard, it shreds the safety net, eliminates state food assistance, housing and medical care for the disabled, and continues the Republican war on women by eliminating family planning grants.”

**************************************************************************

The House Budget

The House 2012 supplemental budget proposal was released last Tuesday.  Budget writers have been working on the document for several months, but needed the final revenue forecast before finishing it.  The goal was to create a state spending plan that’s balanced, supports basic education, and maintains the safety net and keeps higher education affordable.

This budget cuts more than $1 billion from the already slimmed-down budget we approved less than a year ago, including decreases in social services. But importantly, it keeps alive programs such as the Basic Health Plan, Housing and Essential Needs, and Disability Lifeline.  We sustain our unique state medical programs until 2014, when the Affordable Care Act is expanded.

This proposal is not the final one, but it is the next step after the Governor’s budget.

The House proposal is available at http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2012/ho2012p.asp 

How does this proposal differ from Governor Gregoire’s?

Many of the questions coming into our offices this week involved the differences between this proposal and the plan the governor released last December.  This chart answers most of those questions. Keep in mind that the state has received nearly $400 million worth of positive news in the revenue and caseload forecasts since the governor released her budget.  Cuts are in parentheses.

 

Budget Item

Governor Budget

House Budget

Adoption recruitment services

(6,938)

(2,194)

Adult Day Health

(4,100)

(1,247)

Basic Health Plan

(44,484)

0

Behavioral Rehabilitative Services

(12,000)

(6,721)

Breast cancer screening

0

0

Chemical dependency services

(24,200)

(5,100)

Child Advocacy Centers

(6,938)

(2,194)

Children’s Health Program

0

0

Critical care access rural hospitals

(27,200)

(13,536)

Dental care for pregnant women

(8,600)

0

Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) hatcheries and fishing access sites

(1,500)

0

Developmental Disabilities supported living

(11,600)

(7,375)

Disability Lifeline

(89,600)

0

Drug Courts

0

0

Early Learning

(4,350))

(3,313)

Family planning

(1,800)

0

Farmers market nutrition program

(1,500)

0

Heart disease prevention services

0

0

Higher education

(160,600)

(59,064)

Home Care Services – Reduce Eligibility

(8,268)

0

Housing and Essential Needs (HEN)

(45,678)

0

K-12 public education

(318,300)

(96,596)

LEP Pathways/refugee services

(1,700)

0

Long-term Care Agency Rates

(7,306)

0

Malpractice insurance for retired volunteers

(739)

0

Medical interpreters

(5,400)

0

Neurodevelopmental Centers

(964)

0

Reach out and Read

(300)

0

Senior Citizens Services Act

(1,565)

0

TANF Program Reductions

(24,704)

0

Tobacco prevention

1,700

1,700

Working Connections Child Care

(50,000)

0

Youth Suicide Prevention Program

(624)

0

 

Meanwhile, in the other Washington….

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill ending the stalemate over the payroll tax cut and unemployment, and the Senate quickly followed suit. The bill passed by the U.S. Congress would keep the payroll tax rate at 4.2 percent through 2012, instead of adding a 2 percent increase on workers March 1, 2012.

This change will provide $1.8 to 2.1 billion in additional income this year to Washington State workers. In addition, we anticipate that our state revenues will increase because people will have more money to spend.

Prescription discounts are offered in state, county programs

Help in buying prescriptions is offered for Washingtonians in two fine programs, one available through a statewide agency and the other offered by 16 of our 39 counties.

The Washington Prescription Drug Program from the Washington State Health Care Authority is open to all Evergreen Staters. Created by the Legislature in a proposal first advanced by the governor, the program offers discounts to eligible folks when they order their prescriptions. All Washingtonians are eligible to apply for the assistance and there aren’t any age or income restrictions. The program is particularly aimed at helping folks without insurance, folks who have medical coverage but no prescription-drug benefit, and folks whose prescription-drug coverage through their employer doesn’t cover the specific drug they need.

Check the Internet at http://www.rx.wa.gov/ for this state program. The toll-free phone numbers are 1-800-913-4146 (enrollment) and 1-800-913-4311 (customer service). Be ready to answer these six specific questions in the application process: name, date of birth, address, phone number, gender, and how you heard about the program.

Sixteen counties also offer their own cards providing prescription-drug discounts. Sponsored by the National Association of Counties, these programs are open to all residents in the participating counties — regardless of age, income or existing coverage. The card is accepted at most pharmacies. Cards are available at public locations such as city halls, libraries, participating pharmacies, and transit centers. Call 1-877-321-2652 or visit the http://naco.advancerx.com website for more details. Participating Washington counties are Clallam, Clark, Douglas, Garfield, Jefferson, Kitsap, Lewis, Okanogan, Pacific, Pend Oreille, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Walla Walla, Whatcom, and Whitman.

Tired of getting unwanted Yellow Pages?

For over a century, phone directories served a very important role. They were so vital to connecting communities that many states, including Washington, adopted laws and rules requiring phone companies to publish and distribute residential directories on a regular basis.

However, our society looks a lot different than it did back in the late 1800’s when the first phone directory was published. Smartphones and easy access to the internet are drastically driving down the demand for paper phone directories.

According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, nearly 70% of adults rarely or never use a phone book. Between 2005 and 2008, the number of households depending on the white pages for information decreased from 25% to 11%.

Washington lawmakers are working on a solution to cut down on the number of unwanted residential directories. However, a plan is already in place to reduce the number of unwanted yellow pages directories. Washington residents who do not want receive the yellow pages can go to www.yellowpagesoptout.com to opt out of receiving the directory.

Over five million trees are cut down each year to print phone directories. With some updated regulations and a little help from consumers, we can ensure phone directories are delivered only to those people who want them – and save a few trees at the same time.

Free online tax assistance and e-filing

Many people are beginning the process of filing their federal income tax returns.  Did you know that the IRS offers free tax preparation services for taxpayers earning $57,000 or less per year? That’s about 70 percent of us!

Since its inception in 2003, IRS Free File has offered free access to leading commercial tax preparation software.  This is made possible through a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a coalition of industry-leading tax software companies.

For information, please visit the IRS Free File website at www.irs.gov/freefile

Leave a Reply