Posts Tagged ‘Senior Lobby Day’

Seniors – Stand Up to Smoke and Mirrors Budgeting

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

By Jean Godden

The advantages of getting older are not inconsiderable. Active seniors among us can count on a number of pluses. As seniors, barring cognitive disease, we are savvier, wiser and no longer prone to the tensions that afflict young families. We probably won’t have to take our adult kids to soccer practice or bake cupcakes for a young child’s homeroom; we may even save a little on a movie ticket and on bus fares.

But, as elders, we do have far more pressing concerns. More than ever, we need to be vigilant to keep strong those programs that we rely so heavily upon – programs like Social Security and Medicare. These and other entitlement programs like Medicaid and food stamps – programs won through years of hard-fought effort – are basic to our federal system. I’m a proud senior, proud of using accumulated wisdom to keep others from running away with our hard-earned benefits. We must beware of those who would “fix” entitlements by exercising raw power and by such veiled and cynical approaches as raising the minimum retirement age or instituting means testing.

While we must remain united in protecting federal benefits, we must also face challenges within our own state system. In February, local seniors participated in a trip to Olympia for “Senior Lobby Day.”

Among the issues seniors brought to lawmakers’ attention were our robust backing for a state minimum wage, investment in public transportation, expanded health care coverage and new resources for low-income housing. Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA) members also asked legislators to look at eliminating tax exemptions that do not produce a public benefit.

Meanwhile, because the state has a looming budget shortfall – perhaps as much as $2.5 billion –the legislature likely will move to cut the state’s health and human services programs. It will be particularly difficult to counter irresponsible budget cutting because it often comes in shrouded maneuvers.

Legislators are prone to talking airily about “across the board cuts,” a term that seems to say that there can be fiscal savings, but no real pain.

This, of course, is the worst kind of stealth budgeting, some call it “voodoo finance.” Faced with this ploy, citizens should insist that lawmakers who favor “across the board cuts” tell us where and how much these cuts will affect us. In other words: Specifics, please.

There is no question that eliminating a flat percentage across all state departments cannot help but lead to painful reductions. We will all be poorer for the loss of services. There, alas, is no free money, no magical way to save.

The governor spoke eloquently to a group of council members from Seattle earlier this month, saying he feared there will be attempts to fashion a state budget using this “across the board” technique. He said that it is his hope that constituents – city officials in particular – will demand to be told when and where the ax will fall. He said that it’s time to stand up and insist on transparency and honesty in budgeting.

Without strong advocacy from all of us, seniors as well as others, there is the risk that there will be a number of gimmicks used to balance the state budget. We must look out for such tissue-thin tactics as one-time accounting changes and deferred responsibility for vital programs. We should oppose “across the board” nonsense.

It is scandalous enough that the state relies so heavily on regressive taxation, but to bank on obfuscation in budgeting state revenues is to compound the injustice. Seniors in particular need to face these issues and insist on the facts.

One of the great advantages of being a senior is that we have lived long enough to know when newcomer legislators are using the old “blue smoke and mirrors” routine to cut benefits we have worked for and deserve. Another advantage of being a senior is that there are now more of us who vote – and with senior voting can come much accountability by those wishing to stray. Make your voice and vote count in this legislature! This is nothing short of a call for action. If we do not speak out now on these concerns, in the end we will all be the losers.

Jean Godden is a member of the Seattle City Council representing District 4 (Eastlake, Wallingford, University District, Roosevelt, Ravenna, Wedgewood, Laurelhurst and Sand Point).

She currently serves as Chair of the Parks, Seattle Center, and Gender Pay Equity Committee. Jean is a long-time PSARA member.

Join PSARA Members at Senior Lobby Day

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

PSARA members will be heading to Olympia on Senior Lobby Day, February 26, to ask legislators to consider the essential priorities for Washington residents in the years ahead.

PSARA’s 2015 Legislative Agenda includes: • Elimination of tax exemptions with no public benefit & raising revenue.

  • Allocation of new resources for low income housing.
  • Supporting steps to expand health care coverage.
  • Establishing a state minimum wage.
  • Investment in public transportation creating Green Jobs.
  • Study of costs for creating a longterm care social insurance program and a supplemental Social Security program for Washington residents.

PSARA is offering its members transportation to reach Olympia on February 26. PSARA will also cover the registration fee established by the Senior Lobby for participating PSARA members. This fee includes a continental breakfast and a lunch. If you haven’t already signed up, contact us at govrelations@psara.org or the PSARA office at (206) 448-9646.

SENIOR LOBBY DAY: “YOU ALL ROCK!!” says PSARA President Robby Stern

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

By Maureen Bo, PSARA Administrative Vice President 

HOW DO WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE? SHOW UP!!… And be ready to explain our issues and why legislators should support them.

We Did. Seniors made their voices heard by legislators on Senior Lobby Day, February 20. About 40 PSARA members joined some 200 seniors from other senior groups in the state. A morning session provided updates by Governor Inslee, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, Rep. Chris Reykdal (D-Thurston Co.) and representatives of agencies supporting seniors and people with disabilities.

Mike Kreidler reported that Washington State is among the top 10 states for registration in the new Affordable Care Act, and while there are still problems to overcome, progress is good. Kreidler is one of only 12 state insurance commissioners elected by voters, which may explain his continued responsiveness to state consumers.

Most members had meetings with their legislators in the afternoon, some in the morning. Reports back from members were positive. PSARA’s legislative agenda provided by our Government Relations Committee was brief and clear. Our lobbyist Pam Crone also provided participants with a succinct update of bill status. If you would like copies of either of these reports, you can call the office at 206- 448-9646, email me at adminvp@psara. org or visit our website at PSARA.org.

Our members who spoke to legislators represented us well. Most members reported good responses on our issues from their Representatives in the House.

The Senate is more difficult with the current Republican controlled majority. There is less hope for our issues passing in the Senate. But watch for emails from PSARA. Members for whom we have emails on our Constant Contact list will receive an email if there is more advocacy that can be done on our issues this session.

We have many allies to thank for this chance to promote our issues. Machinists 751 Retirees shared their bus with PSARA members and shared our issues. PSARA/Machinist members Robin and John Guevarra and Pat Paulsen helped organize the bus and recognized the benefit our organizations have in working together on our lobbying issues. Walt and Karen Bowen, leaders of the Washington Senior Lobby, did their usual excellent work in putting the conference together.

Our Government Relations Committee Co-Chair Chuck Richards, carpool drivers and Legislative District coordinators who made the appointments and arrangements helped us to show up on time and with the right information to make visits effective.

PSARA has an effective daily presence in Olympia through our lobbyist, PSARA member Pam Crone. We are developing a growing presence in the state legislative process and that is a result of you, our members. PSARA will continue to advocate for progressive policies and spending priorities in Washington that will make the lives of seniors, our children and grandchildren better.

Go Team!

Senior Lobby Day is Feb. 20th

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

By Chuck Richards, Co-Chair, PSARA Government Relations Committee 

It’s that time of year. PSARA members are invited to attend Senior Lobby Day by carpooling to Olympia on Thursday, February 20th.

PSARA has a team of eight legislative district coordinators organizing carpools for Olympia. Below is a list of coordinators and their contact information.

If you do not see your LD listed here call the PSARA office at (206) 448-9646 or contact govrelations@psara.org. We will work with you to make legislative appointments and try to organize a carpool from your area.

30th LD –Tim Burns, tburns023@gmail.com, (253) 874-6292

33rd LD – Mary Anderson, maryanderso@hotmail.com, (206) 276-3069

34th LD – Mac McIntosh, co-chair, (206) 938-1634

Rachael Levine, co-chair, levinepr@comcast.net

36th LD – Mike Warren, mikew@drizzle.com, (206) 282-3363

41st LD – Harvey Kriloff, hzkriloff@gmail.com, (425) 453-1941

43rd LD – Jerry Alexander, gerald.alexander.32@gmail.com, (206) 527-5117

46th LD – Rick Erickson, Rickstere44@msn.com, (206) 634-1530

Other LDs – PSARA office, (206) 448-9646 or govrelations@psara.org.

Senior Lobby Day begins with registration at 8 a.m. and morning presentations at 9 a.m. at The United Churches of Olympia, 110 Eleventh Ave SE, across from the capital campus. There is parking available nearby. Study the map for other public parking.

PSARA will pay registration for PSARA members, which includes a box lunch, for those who sign up by Friday February 14th.

PSARA’s 2014 legislative agenda was approved by PSARA’s Executive Board. The full agenda and the companion Talking Points.

We will have our Legislative Agenda in hand when we meet with our legislators to urge their support:

  • To pass legislation providing Paid Sick Days for workers statewide
  • To adopt the Federal Basic Health Option (FBHO) promoting access to care and continuity of care for low‐income families.
  • To protect Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) by requiring shared employer responsibility.

Budget items for 2014 include:

  • Allocating $400,000 for a Long- Term Care financing study that will examine new models for financing long-term care.
  • Restoring the cuts in the Housing Trust Fund to $100 million.
  • Restoring funding to Medicaid funded home care services
  • Ending corporate tax breaks that fail to produce more revenue
  • Supporting restoration of full funding for the Public Guardianship Program.

Please contact your LD coordinator by Fri. Feb 14th to reserve a place, and a lunch. We hope to have you join us on the 20th!

February 20 is Senior Lobby Day

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

By Chuck Richards, co-chair, PSARA Government Relations Committee

The 2014 legislative session begins with an all-too-familiar political landscape. We enter a second year of divided control of the two legislative chambers and a new governor still being tested by the opposition. State government has another year of a budget deficit and it is reluctant to fully fund public education as required by the state supreme court. And health and human services dread the approaching budget cuts.

Into this mix come members of the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action during Senior Lobby Day on Thursday, February 20, to remind legislators of essential priorities for Washington residents in the years ahead.

Working arm in arm with labor and community allies, we are promoting PSARA’s 2014 Legislative Agenda. (Please read the column on Page 3 of this issue to learn about PSARA’s legislative priorities.)

And, as in years past, PSARA is offering its members transportation to reach Olympia on February 20. We are helping neighbors network within their legislative districts to lobby together most effectively for the things we believe strengthen Washington families.

If you haven’t already signed up at PSARA’s Winter Party on December 19th, then contact us at govrelations@psara.org or the PSARA office at (206) 448-9646.

Going to senior lobby day 2013

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

By Sally Davis, PSARA memebr & featured in the video “Just Scrap the Cap – We’re Movin’ In” 

PSARA joins many senior advocacy organizations in Olympia to learn, share information, and meet with their legislators.

For me, it started with getting up before sunrise, dressing for blustery weather, taking a short walk to the carpool meeting spot, (stopping on the way for the essential cup of coffee). Then, getting on the road to Olympia, we reviewed our appointment schedule, our “talking points” and our PSARA legislative agenda, which PSARA members had approved at our fall 2012 Legislative Conference. Since that conference, I know members of the PSARA Governmental Relations committee worked many hours to make the logistical arrangements to get PSARA members to Olympia. They arranged a charter bus, set up car pools and planned details of legislator appointments.

The United Churches building near the Capitol campus was overflowing with senior advocates from all over the state. I spoke with some people who were attending for the first time, and many who had come for years. It was busy and at first seemed chaotic. I appreciated the hosts from the Senior Lobby who were helpful and organized, providing comprehensive packets of information for us, along with directions to make the day go smoothly.

Before our legislator visits, speakers included our new governor, the attorney general, the leaders of DSHS, the Area Agencies on Aging and other organizations involved in advocacy and service to seniors. So many speakers in a short time- it was too much to take in all at once. Fortunately there were plenty of handouts and reports to refer to later.

Over hearty box lunches the PSARA group met to hear from our lobbyist, and review instructions and directions to the legislator’s offices. We shared umbrellas for the short chilly dash over to the Capitol campus. I tried to think of it as an adventure in citizenship rather than an inconvenience. A highlight of the day was watching our own Robby Stern being greeted again and again by lobbyists, legislators, and staff as we walked through the halls of the Legislative building. Apparently it’s one of those places “where everybody knows his name”.

Another highlight for me was listening to our legislators explain the various behind-the-scenes strategies that go into getting a bill passed. I am glad that my own district legislators are already supportive of most of PSARA’s priorities.

We can write to our legislators, phone or email them, but it’s a different experience to visit them in person and more powerful when many groups join together. I know it’s sometimes inconvenient to take time to visit our elected representatives, but I know we do have to go beyond voting. We have to “show up and speak up” for the issues important to us.

Feb. 21st is Senior Lobby Day

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

By Chuck Richards & Tom Lux, Co-Chairs of PSARA Government Relations Committee

The 2013 legislative session begins with some new names on the doors to offices of power. Washington State has a new governor and two legislative chambers ruled by opposing parties. State government has a looming $1 billion deficit, while the state Supreme Court has ruled the state must increase funding for education. Health and human services dread the approaching budget cuts.

Into this mix come members of the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action during Senior Lobby Day on Thursday, February 21st to remind legislators of essential priorities for Washington residents in the years ahead.

Working arm in arm with labor and community allies, we are promoting PSARA’s 2013 Legislative Agenda:

FIRST, support for the Healthy Washington Coalition Legislative Priorities for implementation of the Affordable Care Act which includes:

  • Securing the full Medicaid Expansion to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  • Ensuring affordability and continuity of care for low-income working families by pursuing available affordability programs, such as the Federal Basic Health Option.
  • Supporting a broad-based assessment on health care insurers for the administration of the Washington State Health Care Exchange. This will reduce the cost of enrollee premiums and give the exchange a stable and predictable source of financing.

SECOND, support the establishment of a State Investment Trust (aka, a “state bank”) that could create new jobs rebuilding our infrastructure and generate new revenue.

THIRD, support the Caring Across Generations Legislative Priorities:

  • Restore cuts and support new investments in home care through the federal Community First Choice Option which provides additional funding to restore recent cuts to home and community-based long-term care services and prevents additional cuts to these Medicaid programs through increased federal matching dollars.
  • Ensure all workers are able to take leave to tend to health needs or care for a family member through Family and Medical Leave Insurance and mandated Paid Sick Days.
  • Support legislation that facilitates immigrants playing the critical role of caregivers and domestic workers in our communities.

And FOURTH, support for increased revenues to address the need for quality education, protect critical services and the jobs associated with those services and also meet the states obligation to fund pension programs.

  • End unjustified tax breaks and reform our tax system.

And, as in years past, PSARA is offering its members transportation to reach Olympia on February 21st. If you haven’t already signed up, contact us at govrelations@psara.org or the PSARA office at (206) 448-9646.

Get Ready for Senior Lobby Day

Monday, January 14th, 2013

By Tom Lux & Chuck Richards, co-chairs, Government Relations Committee

Senior Lobby Day is one of our best opportunities to discuss PSARA’s issues with our legislators in Olympia. We had a great turnout last session and had great discussions with many legislators. We hope to have even more of our members participate in the 2013 Senior Lobby Day and we are asking again for volunteers to drive carpools so we can all enjoy the ride, the company and the conversation.

Senior Lobby Day will be Thursday, February 21st. Registration is at 8:00 AM and the program begins at 9:00 AM at United Churches, 110 11th Ave. SE, Olympia WA.

We are asking you to participate, and we are asking for volunteers to drive carpools, and also to lead delegations. If you are interested in helping to lead the conversation with your legislators, to drive or just to participate in Senior Lobby Day please contact: govrelations@psara.org or call the PSARA office, (206) 448-9646.