Public Priorities and Progressive Revenues Plan
Proposals to rebalance our regressive tax code and invest in a better future for us all.
In the face of the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, we must develop a path forward to avoid austerity budget cuts now and address the critical needs of the public for the future. The best way to economic recovery is to invest in our people. Progressive revenue will provide funding for critical public purposes and will promote fairness in our tax system. We need to respond to this challenge, by:
- Identifying the clear priorities for targeted investments, and
- Showing the specific revenue sources to pay for the investments.
I. Health Equity And Recovery Trust –
the HEART Plan
Urgent public need
With remarkable speed, the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on personal and public health and crashed the economy. This unprecedented health and economic crisis caused mass unemployment, intensified underlying social and racial inequities, exposed the underfunding of public health, and devastated our state budgets.
Without significant state funding for foundational public health, investment in the survival of our community agencies, and the prevention of austerity budget cuts, our economic recovery will be prolonged. Our public-health system and frontline workforce may not be prepared for a re-emergence of coronavirus or the next public-health emergency that arises. This crisis affects our entire state and the investments we make should be extended to all residents in need across Washington, centering those most impacted by the virus (Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Pacific Islanders).
Respond to the pandemic
- Foundational public health, including frontline workforce
- Personal Protective Equipment produced and warehoused in Washington state to end our reliance on haphazard supply lines
- Community-based, culturally-relevant community health workers and specialized case workers to assist families, people who are unhoused and other priority populations, particularly Black, Indigenous and People of Color
- Free testing and contact tracing for the virus
- Preventive care, including health education and culturally relevant communications to priority populations.
Invest in behavioral health and mental illness treatment
- Expanded treatment for people with, or at risk of behavioral health illnesses; preserve available “psych beds”
- A variety of facilities, including the Behavioral Health Institute, a new Behavioral Health Teaching Hospital (to move patients out of Western State Hospital) and other local programs, to improve access and treatment
- Thousands of new units of supportive housing with treatment services, to provide long-term housing for the chronically homeless
- Preventive care such as free mental health first aid, school mental health counselors, youth programming, restorative justice organizations, and geriatric mental health therapists
- Drug court funding to address criminal behavior caused by substance use disorders
- Expanded first responders capacity and trauma informed care training for first responders
- Increased support to 211 and crisis lines, including those for suicide prevention, poison control, domestic violence and sexual assault.
Support community health care across Washington
- Community health clinics, rural hospitals, regional trauma centers, and local emergency services
- Family planning and health care services
- Outreach services, community health workers, home visiting, medical interpreters, cultural navigators
- Dental care and maternity care for people on Medicaid
- Essential services and residential care for people with developmental disabilities.
A fair share contribution
Washington’s upside-down tax code amplifies inequities. Households with the lowest incomes pay the highest percentage in state and local taxes. To fund the community health investments and advance equity, opportunity, and economic recovery in Washington state, it is time to establish a Fair Share Contribution on large corporations to produce $500 million per year, in a dedicated account, to meet our common health and economic challenges.
Establishing a Fair Share Contribution on large corporations:
- Tier one: a 5% corporate contribution tax on per employee compensation exceeding half a million dollars
- Tier two: a 10% corporate contribution on per employee compensation exceeding ten million dollars.
II. Social Security for Child Care and Early Learning
Affordable and accessible child care and early learning is critical for working families and is key strategy to reduce the opportunity gap. The Coronavirus pandemic has created an enormous challenge for child care and early learning programs. Many are in danger of financial collapse. A coalition of organizations and advocates are proposing significant state investments to stabilize, expand, and improve child care and early learning in Washington state.
- Making child care more affordable for low-income and middle class families by expanding the Working Connections Child Care program
- Ensuring every low-income three- and four- year olds across our state has access to our state’s Pre-Kindergarten program, Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP)
- Expanding access to after-school care and programs
- Providing a living wage, health care benefits and accessible professional development to child care providers
- Making capital dollars available to expand and build new child care and early learning classrooms.
A social insurance concept
To fund these investments, we should build on the concept of social security and our state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program, with a more progressive premium payment structure, to raise over $1 billion per year for this very important priority.
In the best of times, access to child care and early learning is a critical strategy to reduce the opportunity gap, provide early interventions to reduce special needs and ensure all children enter kindergarten ready to learn. With the current economic struggles from COVID-19, child care is essential to assist with our economic recovery, support working families, businesses and the economy, and provide care for youth especially as K-12 schools have uncertain re-opening schedules.
III. Working Capital for Working Families
- Workforce Education to provide associate degrees, certificates, apprenticeships, and student support services in community colleges across the state.
- Workforce Housing to provide substantial capital for acquisition and construction of housing affordable for lower-wage workers, located close to public transit lines as transit-oriented development.
- Working Families Tax Credit to give cash back to low-income people who currently pay a much larger percentage of their income than wealthy people.
- Washington Worker Relief Fund to be administered by community-based organizations to provide economic assistance to undocumented Washingtonians
- Financial aid for students through the Washington College Grant, College Bound Scholarship, and other programs.
A capital gains tax
These investments should be funded by a capital gains sales tax on extraordinary profits, to raise $500 million per year. This will provide critical public purposes and bring much more fairness to our tax system.
Summary of Public Priorities and Progressive Revenues
This Public Priorities and Progressive Revenues proposal would produce $2 billion per year in new progressive revenue to respond to health and economic community needs exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. It would avoid our state having to go back to the austerity budget cuts of the Great Recession. With these proposals, those with higher incomes will pay a fairer share. These funds will be invested in our highest priority community needs to address longstanding impacts of racism and social inequities. The result a better future for us all.