United Way of King County

 

December 29, 2011

Happy New Year!!   We have included a number of reports for your year-end reading.   Look for the next update on January 12, 2012.  

HEADLINES

Local
Municipal League hosts “Extreme Makeover: Government Edition”

State
Agreement on Congressional redistricting reached
Legislature back in session January 9
Budget reductions: time of crisis and opportunity
Kudos!
Report analyzes how kids in Washington State are doing

Federal
FY 2012 Budget passed
Increase in numbers of low income in US
Reports focus on hunger and food spending
Homelessness in U.S. is down according to national one night count
Washington State makes progress on addressing child homelessness

Local

Municipal League hosts “Extreme Makeover: Government Edition”
On December 1, the Municipal League invited local government leaders to present talks on how to improve government.  “Enlighten us, but make it quick” is the motto of these Ignite talks.  A 5-minute speech set to 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds is intended to be engaging, thought provoking, and fun.  Hear your local leaders on the Seattle Channel.

State

Agreement on Congressional redistricting reached
Washington State’s new 10th Congressional District was unveiled yesterday but there is still discussion about the proposed state legislative district boundaries.  State and congressional legislative districts must be finalized by Commission by the end of the year and final maps submitted to the Legislature. State lawmakers have the option of accepting the maps or rejecting and redrawing the districts themselves, a process that requires two-thirds approval from both chambers. If the Legislature doesn't act on the final map from the commission, it automatically becomes law.


Legislature back in session January 9
The state Legislature returns for a regular 60-day session on January 9, 2012 after a 17-day special, end-of-year session that closed $480 million of the state’s $2 billion budget shortfall.  For review of the special session, see the Olympian This leaves the tougher budget decisions and a potential face-off between liberal Democrats who are likely to demand new tax revenues in exchange for new spending cuts and others who will seek reforms to save money. The Governor proposed a number of reforms for the legislature to consider. 


Budget reductions: time of crisis and opportunity
Recent reports indicate that budget cuts will increase racial disparities and cause problems for non-profits.  Read about how one non-profit is following a new path to insure quality services to clients.


Kudos!
On December 16, the White House announced that Washington State was one of 9 states in the US that won a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant.  The state will receive $60 million over four to insure that all kids in Washington have the opportunities to be successful in school and life.  Winning this competitive grant speaks to years of strong advocacy by early learning allies as well as leadership by the Governor and legislature.  A summary of how the grant will be used can be found here.


Report analyzes how kids in Washington State are doing
The Children’s Alliance and the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, just released KIDS COUNT in Washington: The State of Washington’s Children 2012, a compilation of data that provides statistics from economic security to safety and educational success of Washington State’s children.  

Federal

FY 2012 Budget passed
Congress approved the FY 2012 budget before leaving on Christmas break.  The budget is for the fiscal year that began October 1, 2011.  A summary of budget items important to United Ways can be seen on our blog.  In addition to passing the budget, Congress took temporary action on several major issues that will mean 2.8 million people without jobs won't be denied unemployment insurance in January and February.  The temporary law also prevents basic assistance for low-income people from expiring, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), child care assistance for low-income families, Medicaid for families moving from welfare to work, and Medicaid subsidies so low-income seniors can afford Medicare Part B medical insurance.  In addition, physicians' payments under Medicare won't drop 27 percent.


Increase in numbers of low income in US
A recent MSNBC.com article shows that nearly 1 in 2 families in the US is low income or lives in poverty according to new definitions.


Reports focus on hunger and food spending
Tightening the Belt is a new analysis of federal data by Food Research and Action Center  (FRAC) which reveals that more households are spending less on food due to economic hardship; while Bread for the World offers up its 2012 Hunger Report with recommendations on how the federal government can better respond to the agriculture and nutrition challenges. 

Homelessness in U.S. is down according to national one night count
The Department of Housing and Urban Development released its annual 2011 Point-in-Time Count of people experiencing homelessness.  According to the report, 636,017 people were homeless in the United States on a single night in January, representing a 2.1 percent decline from the year before.


Washington State makes progress on addressing child homelessness
The National Center on Family Homelessness has released a new report, America's Youngest Outcasts 2010, which ranks the 50 states on how they are addressing child homelessness from best (1) to worst (50), and offers specific policy solutions. Our state report card can be found here.