By Robby Stern
PSARA will be active in the 2015 legislative session. The Executive Board’s proposed legislative agenda will be discussed at our Legislative Conference on Nov. 12. We believe these proposals reflect many of the values and policies that are important to PSARA members.
The legislative agenda includes the following:
1. PSARA supports legislation to increase transparency and accountability in the budget process including, but not limited to:
a. Requiring the legislature to adopt a tax expenditure budget as part of the state biannual budget process. (This would require the legislature, when they pass their two year budget, to also vote to renew the tax breaks they previously passed. It also makes those tax breaks more transparent.)
b. Eliminating tax exemptions that do not have a demonstrated public benefit.
2. PSARA supports allocating significant resources to provide a much larger stock of low-income housing for the growing population of seniors who will rely solely or in large measure on Social Security as their source of income, as well as the many Washington residents who are unable to afford adequate housing because of the preponderance of low-wage jobs and the erosion of defined benefit pensions.
3. PSARA believes that comprehensive affordable health care is a fundamental human right. In the 2015 Washington State Legislative session, we will support all legislation that furthers the goal of universal health care coverage in Washington. Legislation should include:
– Requiring Paid Sick Days for workers statewide
– Adopting the Federal Basic Health Option (FBHO) to promote access to care and continuity of care for low‐income families. Until the FBHO is available, people on Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) should be eligible for 12 months rather than establishing eligibility every month.
– Protecting Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) by requiring shared employer responsibility. (This would require low-wage large employers who shift the cost of covering their employees onto the Medicaid system to contribute financially to the cost of that coverage.)
– Passing legislation that supports Washington applying for a Section 1332 Affordable Care Act waiver that would allow Washington to establish a universal health care system in our state.
4. PSARA supports legislation that establishes a state minimum wage of $15 per hour.
5. PSARA supports passage of legislation that invests in a 21st Century transportation system, including a greater investment in public transportation, our state infrastructure, and projects that address the challenges created by climate change and the fossil fuel economy.
6. PSARA supports a study of the costs and benefits of a state program that will provide assistance with the costs of long-term care for Washington residents.
7. PSARA supports a study of the feasibility of establishing a state-based supplemental Social Security program.
Join us at PSARA’s Legislative Conference on November 12 where we will discuss this legislative agenda.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
Naomi Klein’s new book has done an extraordinary job of analyzing what can and must be done to address one of the most compelling crises of our time, sustaining our global communities in the face of dramatic climate change. Despite the immensity of the challenges we face, she believes we can fight and win the battle to establish a new set of values and policies on our planet and create new environmentally sustainable jobs that will replace the jobs that will be lost.
Klein posits that communalism and caring for each other is a better way to live than the hierarchical and selfish values that dominate the thinking of the 1% and their various messengers. The crisis created by climate change requires us to intensify our struggle against the Milton Friedman/Koch Brothers vision of what the world should look like. Because failing to achieve a different approach on how we live together means whole peoples, cities, nations, and other living things will disappear. Not one of us, nor our children, grandchildren, or generations to follow will escape the forces that are being unleashed.
Ms. Klein emphasizes that the task ahead will require us to confront our fears and hopelessness when trying to make big changes. It is not just about individual acts like recycling, using different light bulbs and buying energy-efficient cars. We must also come together on a movement scale to insist that policy makers not serve as handmaidens for the 1% who benefit from the way things are. Capitalist values are failing the vast majority of people on our planet as well as the very survival of life on our planet.
We can no longer allow the politicians to lead. Instead, we have to build a movement that insists that those in power take the resources that are now so disproportionately in the hands of the 1 % and use those resources to address the transition to a renewable energy economy that creates a more equitable society. These changes will require major government investments, the empowerment of local communities, and the creation of the jobs required to renew our infrastructure, remold our transportation system, and repair the damage that has been done.
Ms. Klein brings an optimistic outlook even as she recognizes the difficulty of the challenges that lie ahead. Reading her book is worth our time.