By Maureen Bo, PSARA Adminstrative Vice President
With many legislators saying: “Oh, No! We can’t raise revenues,” PSARA and our partners in Caring Across Generations Coalition stepped up to raise the dough—with our dough. Boxes and trays of baked goods, donated by PSARA members and friends, were sold in the State Legislative Building at the Caring Across Generations Lobby Day. We made our point as visibly as possible, with visits to the leaders of the House and Senate, and notification to the press. When building security made us move out of the building, we set up our table outside between two legislative office buildings and did good sales and education there.
Our point was that we must restore home care workers’ hours that were cut in 2008 and provide the workers with a living wage. Home Care workers who care for elderly and disabled individuals in their homes provide an important service to the individuals, allowing them to live safely, in dignity and privacy of their own home, rather than be sent to a nursing home. Home care is much less expensive than nursing home care, for the individual or for the state in the case of Medicaid eligible people. It is one of many human services that have been cut during the economic downturn. We say stop! It’s time to tax the Lear Jet sales and corporate tax loopholes that don’t benefit residents of our state.
The idea and energy for the action came from Kate Hunter, PSARA member and long-time political activist. Kate and other PSARA members provided baked goods. A flyer and press notices were created with the help of Washington CAN. We set up a table with goods and flyers, and Kate led the sales by approaching visitors, staff and legislators to buy pastries to help us raise state revenue for Home Care workers. Kate was polite, gentle and relentless in explaining the problem and the need. In all $288 were raised, including a donation from House Speaker Frank Chopp, a long time supporter of home care workers.
Our delegation planned to visit the offices of Senate and House Leaders, give them each half of the money and tell them what it must be used for. Legislators were in intense committee meetings and budget negotiations. We arranged to meet with a staff member for Speaker Chopp and were told to ask Majority Leader Rodney Tom to join us for a brief meeting outside the committee hearing he was attending.
We had a good meeting with House Speaker Frank Chopp’s aide who was very supportive of our requests. We could not get a response from Senator Rodney Tom (the Democrat who joined the Republican coalition in the Senate) even though we sent a message into his committee and waited in the hall nearby for quite a while. A letter has been sent to House and Senate leaders (see Robby’s column), informing them of the dollars raised and our donation of the funds to DSHS for Home Care funding.
Many thanks to Kate Hunter who inspired and engineered much of the action.