2023 Legislative Priorities
United Way of Snohomish County's Public Policy Committee of volunteers and staff develop our annual legislative priorities to provide guidance on a variety of local, state, and federal policy issues.
As we delve deeper into our CORE work, we provide information to legislators and to the public to increase understanding and awareness of the impact of policy and budget decisions on children birth to 8 and their families in our community.
This year, our focus is on four specific areas:
Invest in long-term housing affordability through increased, diversified housing supply
- Remove single-family zoning, an outgrowth of redlining that perpetuates housing and economic disparities for BIPOC people. Single family zoning is the most significant barrier to creative housing development. Instead, prioritize building missing middle housing to support diverse communities and a larger housing supply.
- Create a new permanent funding source for the Housing Trust Fund to ensure significant, leverageable investments over time to grow the supply of affordable housing.
Improve access to quality early learning opportunities
- Increase the Working Connections Child Care and ECEAP reimbursement rates for childcare facilities so that they can maintain the slots that exist. Currently, many childcare centers with these slots run at a deficit due to high cost and insufficient reimbursement.
- End the childcare benefits cliff by increasing the income eligibility exit threshold so that low-income families do not lose the childcare benefit without sufficient resources to afford both childcare and necessities like housing and food. Increase income eligibility in general so that more families can receive the childcare benefit.
Increase Mental Health Therapy resources
- Increase Medicaid/Apple Health reimbursement rates for providers, incentivize more providers to accept Apple Health clients.
Increase dental care access & affordability for low-Income families
- Establish the profession of dental therapy statewide (2022’s HB1885)
Addressing staffing challenges in early learning, mental health therapy, dental health, and housing fields is critical to making these resources accessible to the low-income families who need them most. We need to increase retention; draw more people with diverse experiences, languages, cultures, and perspectives into these fields; support educational programs that prepare practitioners; provide funds for training; lower the cost of certification; and ensure living wages.
Additionally, United Way of Snohomish County supports the following agendas and federal issues in order to achieve the above goals:
2023 Support Agenda
- Fund the Housing Trust Fund at $400 million from the state capital budget. This appropriation should build and preserve permanently affordable homes and invest in homeownership opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. We join the Washington Low-Income Housing Alliance and United Ways of the Pacific Northwest in advocating for this.
2023 Key Federal Issues
- Clear the backlog of renewal requests for work permits for non-citizens.
- Simplify and expedite the process to renew work permits for non-citizens.
Plant the seed for future legislative work
- County Council: research and prioritize anti-displacement strategies and innovations for BIPOC people and communities in gentrifying neighborhoods, particularly related to Light Rail expansion in Casino Road.
- County & state legislators: Washington’s current childcare system is broken. In its current form, we will not be able to keep up with demand, childcare will get further out of reach for more families over time, and our efforts to provide all children with a strong start will stall. Investments in early learning and child development yield large dividends – an average of at least $9 returned on each $1 spent. This makes childcare and quality early learning a strategic investment toward equity and preparing our future workforce. To eliminate the challenges and barriers that currently exist, Washington State should explore state-wide subsidies for childcare.