Washington’s communities of color and low-income communities have faced unequal pain in this recession. High levels of unemployment, home foreclosure, and racial inequities in health, education and criminal justice continue to devastate communities of color. By 2030, one in every three Washington residents will be a person of color.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed. Washington’s budget decisions can either echo this, or make matters worse.

The report Facing Race: How Budget Cuts Are Increasing Racial Disparities highlights how the cuts made to the 2011-2013 biennial budget disproportionately affect communities of color in Washington State and worsen existing racial disparities. The full report, published by Washington Community Action Network with endorsers including PJALS, is available at: http://washingtoncan.org/wordpress/reports/.

Washington State gives away $6.5 billion every year on tax breaks for special interests (see insert for examples). At a time when the demand for state services is increasing as a result of unemployment, the recession and the previous rounds of state budget cuts, cuts to lifeline programs for the most vulnerable families in our state are not a solution. Our Legislature needs to close corporate tax loopholes and bring in revenue in order to expand opportunities and reduce racial and economic disparities.

Key Findings: Health Care

* Cuts made to Basic Health and community clinics will make it harder for communities of color to receive affordable health care, which will lead to increased disparities in health. Basic Health enrollees are disproportionately people of color; Latinos represent 36% of community health center patients though they only make up 9.3% of the state population.

* People of color also suffer greater health risks at birth. Cuts made to Maternity Support Services will jeopardize the health of 65,000 at-risk pregnant women and infants through the critical first year of life.

* 19,000 interpreter appointments are scheduled every month and over 80,000 Washington residents rely on these services. The cuts to interpreter services will result in thousands of families being lost in translation.

Key Findings: Human & Social Services

* People of color are 58% more likely than whites to rely on home care services, and cuts made to Home Care resulted in an average 10% reduction in personal care hours. Cuts

* Time limits and cuts to TANF also disproportionately affect communities of color, as they are more likely to be low-income.

* With a 61.5% reduction in funding for the Housing Trust Fund, low-income families in need of housing support are more likely to become homeless.

Key Findings: Education

* Significant racial disparities exist within Washington State’s education system. According to the Education Trust and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, at the current pace it will take at least 45 years to close the gap between students of color and their white counterparts.

* Early Learning is shown to be crucial to future academic success, which is even more important for children of color, taking into account the statistic above. Changes to Working Connections Child Care resulted in 2,500 families being cut from the program, an increase in co-payments and the establishment of a waiting list for the program.

* $214.7 million cut from Class Size Reduction will lead to swelling class sizes, making it more difficult for students of color to get the support they need to succeed academically.

* Budget cuts totaling $66.5 million to higher education financial aid programs will create cost barriers for students of color and low-income families.

$7.5 million cut from Community and Technical Colleges will reduce access to libraries, financial aid counselors and student advisors, resources that are key to the success of students of color in post-secondary schools.

Key Findings: Criminal Justice

* In Washington, juveniles of color face harsher sentencing outcomes and disparate treatment by probation officers than their white counterparts. Defendants of color are significantly less likely than white defendants to receive sentences that fall below the standard range. Among felony drug offenders, black defendants are 62 percent more likely to be sentenced to prison than white defendants.

* $127 million was cut from the Department of Corrections. Decreased funding for or elimination of programs behind bars and upon re-entry are likely to impact recidivism and life outcomes system.

Key Findings: Civil Rights & Citizenship

* Reductions to the Naturalization Program and the Washington New Americans Program (which help thousands of immigrants and refugees become U.S. citizens) will place additional barriers between thousands of immigrants and refugees who seek the rights and protections of U.S. citizenship

* Cuts made to Refugee Employment Services/LEP Pathways impacts the ability of thousands of people of color to participate fully in Washington’s society and economy.