House budget released – please pick up your phone today!
When the Senate released their budget proposal last week, we celebrated that there was progress toward restoring equal State Food Assistance benefits. We also were relieved that the Senate took a small – though insufficient – step to ensuring that Farm to School and Small Farms/Direct Marketing Programs wouldn’t shut down altogether.
Today, we got bad news: the House released their budget proposal this morning and it makes NO progress toward restoring equal State Food Assistance benefits. It also takes the same small but insufficient step forward for our local farms and schoolkids. There is no increase in funding for local food banks.
Overall, the House budget proposal makes far fewer cuts than the Senate proposal in part because the House proposal includes new revenue by closing outdated tax loopholes. This is incredibly important progress toward a more fair and equitable budget. We applaud House members for finally tackling tax reform in smart ways.
Yet, on the critical issue of feeding hungry people, it falls short. It fails to correct the terrible injustice that was done to children and families when State Food Assistance was cut in half. It funds a tiny portion of what’s needed to grow and serve healthy food to students and families. It doesn’t help local food banks.
But this is just the proposal. We are going to work fast to try and get the funds added through an amendment. If we work together, we have a better chance of being successful.
Here’s what is happening now:
- A mom from Lakewood who counts on State Food Assistance is going to testify in the hearing on the House budget at 3:30 today.
- A farmer will also testify about the critical support farm businesses get from WSDA’s programs that feed students and families healthy, local food.
- AHNC members’ lobbyists in Olympia will work fast to try and find a sponsor of an amendment to add funds to restore equal benefits for SFA.
- Call or email your two Representatives now to say how disappointed you are that there is no progress toward equal benefits for State Food Assistance in the House budget proposal. Say you think kids and farmers deserve quality programs that can make a difference in what we eat. Can’t remember their contact info? Just check here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rosters/Members.aspx
- If you work for/represent a statewide organization, or if you live in, or work for an organization in the 43rd district, call Speaker Frank Chopp with the same message: (306) 786-7920
- If you work for/represent a statewide organization or your live or work in the 48th district, call House Appropriations Chair Ross Hunter with the same message: (360) 786-7936
Here’s a sample message:
“Thank you for increasing revenue in the House budget proposal, and closing outdated tax loopholes. But I am very concerned that there is no progress toward restoring equal State Food Assistance benefits for Washington’s kids and families. Please amend the budget proposal to include at least the funding for SFA provided in the Senate budget. Please fund Farm to School & Small Farms Programs at $500,000.”
Thank you. Together we are making progress. These next few days and weeks are critical, and every action you take is getting us closer to a success that will make a world of difference for children and families who are coping to eat three healthy meals a day. Call me or email if you have any questions.