UWPNW Washington Legislative Update - August 3, 2020

Washington United Way executives held meetings in June with U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene from the First Congressional District and with staff from the offices of Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. This was part of United Way Worldwide’s virtual lobby initiative. The meetings covered the roles and actions United Ways are taking for COVID-19 response and recovery in their communities along with the critical policy and financial actions Congress and our Federal government need to take. Each meeting covered priority issues aligned with Worldwide’s national agenda for the next COVID funding package, including charitable donations deductions, enhanced EITC and emergency investments in child care, food security, medical assistance to states and 211. Our US Senators and Rep DelBene indicated their support of these requests and the meetings established stronger communications with United Way and their offices. With the Senate finally taking up this next funding package now, please take action now using Worldwide’s Fight for America's Recovery Asks

Prospects for State Legislative Special Session
The economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will affect state revenues for years with the June Revenue Forecast projecting a $8.9 billion shortfall for the coming three years. Despite this precarious budget picture and due to the ongoing health and economic uncertainty presented by the COVID crisis, it appears highly unlikely that the Legislature will be called to a special session prior to their normal January session. Please keep in regular touch with your legislators this month and beyond about your United Way’s work tackling the crisis and the important needs you see for families and the community. They need to know about the critical role served by child care, cash support, rental assistance and 211 for many families. Our ALICE report provides potent documentation of the challenges faced by families before the COVID pandemic and provides ample reasons why cutting programs that benefit ALICE families will only make their lives worse.

Washington 211 Data Provides Insight into Communities
Information gleaned from calls into the Washington 211 number is providing insight into community needs. In June 2019, WA211 began a partnership with 2-1-1 Counts, which provides an online interactive dashboard of national 211 caller data. Using Washington 2-1-1 Counts, you’ll find community-specific needs and gaps in services data that can be displayed at the state and county level as well as by congressional, legislative and school district level enabling you to easily check trends, make comparisons and share information. For instance, this data tells us that in the first half of 2020, WA211 experienced a 30 percent increase in housing and shelter assistance calls from the previous six months. Recently, Washington University researchers discovered that daily calls about COVID-19 to 2-1-1 in Washington are rising fast, driven largely by areas of the state with large Hispanic populations.