Posts Tagged ‘PSARA legislative agenda’

Proposed Legislative Agenda

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

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.

With a little help from our friends

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

By Robby Stern

During this holiday season, we will be asking our members to help us fight Wall Street and the politicians and ideologues who are manufacturing this so-called “fiscal cliff” crisis. They are attacking our earned benefits from Social Security and Medicare and seeking to cut Medicaid and other programs vital to the welfare of the majority of the American people. It is yet another example of what author Naomi Klein terms “Shameless Disaster Capitalism”.

These programs did not create the deficit .The deficit our federal government is facing was created by the Bush tax cuts, by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by the Wall Street-created recession. It can be resolved by ending the tax cuts for the wealthy and launching a robust jobs creation program.

By using the right-wing language of “entitlements” (rather than earned benefits), those who created the deficit now want to lay its cause at the door-step of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs necessary to the vast majority of the people.

Could we have a more efficient and less costly health care system in our country? You bet we could!  If we want to lower the cost of health care and make it more efficient, why not recognize health care as a human right and create Medicare for all? Universal coverage would lead to a far more cost-effective system. But that is not the direction the politicians are going.  We will work to change their direction.

By the time you receive this newsletter, you will have been asked to call your Congressional Representative and two U.S. Senators with the message that we want them to end the tax cuts for the richest 2% and to oppose benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We will ask you to call multiple times because repetition is effective. The calls will take at most, 10 minutes.

We will also be planning street action with a large coalition of organizations. Please join us under the PSARA banner when the time comes.

The end of the elections signals a new time of mobilization and action.

Getting ready for the 2013 legislative session

At our annual legislative conference, PSARA adopted our priorities for the 2013 legislative session,  We have our lobbyist, PSARA member Pam Crone and her partner, PSARA member Nancy Sapiro, ready to assist us on a day-to-day basis in Olympia.

Our priorities include:

  • Support the raising of increased revenue to preserve Washington’s fiscal strength; promote economic growth and opportunity; protect essential services and jobs; fund quality education; and ensure that the state can meet its pension obligations.
  • A critical Supreme Court decision  will soon determine whether requiring a two-thirds majority  to raise revenue is constitutional.  If the Supreme Court decision finds the two-thirds requirement unconstitutional, it will still be challenging to raise revenue but it is attainable.
  • Establish a State Investment Trust (state bank). The revenue the state raises by taxes and fees should be deposited in a state-owned account rather than in a private commercial bank like Bank of America (the present depository). Similar to the North Dakota State Bank, the Washington State Investment Trust would allow the people of our state to benefit from the income produced by the deposits.  It would provide resources to invest in infrastructure, creating jobs and generating new revenue for Washington. This is a multi-year fight and PSARA will give it support.
  • Support the Healthy Washington Coalition legislative priorities for progressive implementation of the Affordable Care Act. We will advocate for the full Medicaid expansion up to 138% of the federal poverty level. This will lead to health care coverage for more than 250,000 additional residents.
  • We will also join the Healthy Washington Coalition in supporting programs that will provide quality coverage for low-income working families, such as the Federal Basic Health Option, sponsored by Senator Cantwell as part of the Affordable Care Act.
  • This session will be critical for the creation of the Washington State Health Care Exchange. We will join with the Healthy Washington  Coalition to insist that all private insurers, whether they choose to be part of the Exchange or not, help fund the administrative costs of the the Exchange.
  • Finally, we will support the state legislative priorities of the Caring Across Generations campaign, including restoring cuts and supporting new investments in home care; ensuring all workers are able to take leave to take care of the health care needs of their families through Paid Sick days and Family Leave Insurance; and supporting legislation that facilitates immigrants playing the critical role of caregivers and domestic workers.

Our Legislative Conference also supported legislative efforts to create safe staffing standards in our hospitals, as well as the creation of a licensed dental practitioner – a new kind of dental provider that can enhance dental care the same way physician assistants and nurse practitioners have diversified the field of medicine.

This is a robust legislative agenda. When the session begins in January, we will have more articles about what is happening in the Olympia and what we can do to get the best results for PSARA members and all Washington residents.