United Way Of Snohomish County Happy With Olympia Outcome, Meetings With Everett Reps

July 12, 2013

Everett, Everett Government


Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett) meeting with Lynn Lewis, senior manager of education for United Way and a board member for United Way, David Kendall during the group’s Lobby Day on February 7. (Photo Credit: Sara Haner/United Way of Snohomish County)

Received this recap today from Neil Parekh at United Way of Snohomish County on the results of lobbying efforts in Olympia…

United Way of Snohomish County’s legislative priorities fared well in the 2013 legislative session and special session. The legislature finished their work on the budget in a special session that ended on June 30.

The organization’s legislative priorities for 2013 focused on early learning, hunger, homelessness and seniors.

“It was a long session and special session,” said Katrina Ondracek of Lake Stevens, Vice President of Public Policy and Community Initiatives. “For the most part, funding for the issues we supported was preserved or even increased. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we are definitely pleased.”

The nonprofit’s priorities were chosen after several months of deliberations and careful consideration by United Way’s vision councils, public policy committee, board of directors and other volunteer committees.

“We worked with a broad range of human services organizations from Snohomish County and throughout the state,” Ondracek added. “Our Lobby Day in February was particularly important. Legislators need to hear directly from their constituents – it’s an important part of the process.”

Here are the organization’s priorities and how they fared during the 2013 Legislative Session:

Quality Early Learning

Priority: Provide funding to support opportunities that ensure children are ready to succeed in school and life.

Legislators increased funding for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program; made it easier to enroll in the Working Connections Child Care program and increased the number of kids who participate in the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS), ensuring they are ready for school and that school is ready for them.

Food Insecurity

Priority: Preserve food programs that keep children and adults from going hungry and being malnourished.

Legislators increased funding for state food assistance to legal immigrants. In the last budget, this program was reduced by 50 percent. In this new two-year budget, the funding was increased to 75 percent of the earlier level.

Housing & Homelessness

Priority: Maintain funding to support affordable housing and options that move people out of homelessness.

Legislators preserved funding for the Housing Trust Fund and the Housing & Essential Needs (HEN) program, formerly called “Disability Lifeline.”

Support for Seniors

Priority: Maintain funding to support senior information & assistance, transportation and caregiver support.

Legislators preserved funding for the Senior Citizens Services Act. Funding for other services of specific interest to seniors, such as long-term care programs were also maintained.


There were several other issues that United Way followed closely in the legislature this year:

Education: Although the budget included $1.03 billion for K-12 education, there were no COLA increases for teachers and several other important K-12 budget items did not get funded.

Medicaid: An additional 300,000 people will get healthcare benefits, primarily through federal funding.

Payday Loans: A payday loan product with extremely high interest rates opposed by United Way and other consumer advocates was defeated.

2-1-1: Funding for the Washington Information Network 2-1-1 call system was maintained at $1 Million.

Foster Care: More children who age out of the foster care system will be able to stay in the system for a few additional years, until they reach the age of 21.

Transportation: Legislators failed to pass a statewide transportation package. United Way worked closely with Community Transit and Economic Alliance Snohomish County on projects of specific interest to Snohomish County.

For more information and updates on these and other issues related to United Way’s advocacy efforts, please visit www.uwsc.org/advocate.php.

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My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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