US Senate News:
Source: United States Senator for Washington State Patty Murray
Senator Murray: “Build Back Better will put money back into peoples’ pockets, and send a message to workers and families in Washington state and across the country—you’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, broke down what Democrats’ Build Back Better framework would mean for Washington state.
“Passing Build Back Better will mean Washington state parents will actually be able to afford and find quality child care where they live, will be able to enroll their kids into preschool at no cost, and can continue to count on the expanded Child Tax Credit to help pay for all kinds of expenses, from rent to diapers. It will mean people in our state spending less money on their health care coverage, their education, and keeping a roof over their head,” said Senator Murray. “As we continue working through the final discussions, it’s already clear: Build Back Better will put money back into peoples’ pockets, and send a message to workers and families in Washington state and across the country—you’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”
As Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Senator Murray is leading the Democratic Caucus in shepherding through key priorities in the Build Back Better framework. She has led the fight for affordable child care and pre-K since she first was elected to the Senate, and the Build Back Better child care and universal pre-K policies were modeled off of her Child Care for Working Families Act. Senator Murray has also led negotiations focused on lowering health care and education costs, strengthening public health infrastructure, expanding home- and community-based services, and been a vocal advocate for bold climate action in the legislation.
For Washington state, the Build Back Better framework will:
Provide access to quality, affordable child care for families in Washington state: Child care is a major strain for families in Washington state, where the average annual cost of a child care center for a toddler is $13,476, meaning that a Washington state family with two young children would on average spend 29% of their income on child care for one year. The lack of affordable options also makes it difficult for parents, and especially mothers, to remain in their jobs, contributing to the 20.4% gender gap in workforce participation between mothers and fathers in Washington state. The Build Back Better framework based on Murray’s proposal will enable Washington state to provide access to child care for 470,178 young children (ages 0-5) per year from families earning under 2.5 times the Washington state median income (about $254,421 for a family of 4), and ensure these families pay no more than 7% of their income on high-quality child care.
Provide universal, high-quality, free preschool for every 3- and 4-year old in Washington state: Today, only 22% of the 233,030 3- and 4-year-olds in Washington state have access to publicly-funded preschool, and it costs about $8,600 per year for those who can’t access a publicly-funded program. The Build Back Better framework based on Murray’s proposal will enable Washington state to expand access to free, high-quality preschool to more than 181,109 additional 3- and 4-year-olds per year and increase the quality of preschool for children who are already enrolled. Parents will be able to send their children to the preschool setting of their choice—from public schools to child care providers to Head Start—leading to lifelong educational benefits, allowing more parents to go back to work, and building a stronger foundation for Washington state’s future economic competitiveness.
Make the largest effort to combat climate change in American history: From 2010 to 2020, Washington state experienced 10 extreme weather events, costing up to $5 billion in damages. The Build Back Better framework will set the United States on course to meet its climate targets—a 50-52% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030—in a way that creates good-paying union jobs, grows domestic industries, and advances environmental justice. The framework represents the largest ever single investment in our clean energy economy—across buildings, transportation, industry, electricity, agriculture, and climate smart practices in our lands and waters. And the framework will create a new Civilian Climate Corps that will enlist a diverse generation of people from Washington state in conserving our public lands, bolstering community resilience, and addressing the changing climate, all while creating pathways to good-paying union jobs. In clean energy and in other sectors, the Build Back Better framework will also strengthen domestic manufacturing and supply chains for critical goods, benefiting American businesses, workers, consumers, and communities.
Reduce Washington state housing costs and expand housing options: 487,000 renters in Washington state are rent burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent, while homeownership remains out of reach for many families. The Build Back Better framework will expand rental assistance for Washington state renters, while also increasing the supply of high-quality housing through the construction and rehabilitation of over 1 million affordable housing units nationwide. It will address the capital needs of the entire public housing stock in America and it includes one of the largest investments in down payment assistance in history, enabling more first-generation homebuyers to purchase their first home.
Cut taxes for Washington state families and workers: Prior to the pandemic, 9% of children under the age of 18 in Washington state lived in poverty. The Build Back Better framework will bolster financial security and spur economic growth in Washington state by reducing taxes on the middle class and those striving to break into it. The framework will extend Child Tax Credit (CTC) increases of $300/month per child under 6 or $250/month per child ages 6 to 17. This will continue the largest one-year reduction in child poverty in history. And critically, the agreement includes permanent refundability for the Child Tax Credit, meaning that the families with the most need will continue to receive the full Child Tax Credit over the long-run. The framework will also provide a tax cut of up to $1,500 for 358,300 low-wage workers in Washington state by extending the American Rescue Plan’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion.
Expand health care coverage and lower costs: Health care should be a right, not a privilege, and residents of Washington state facing illness should never have to worry about how they are going to pay for treatment. The Build Back Better framework will close the Medicaid coverage gap to help millions of Americans gain health insurance, extend through 2025 the American Rescue Plan’s health insurance premium reductions for those who buy coverage on their own, and help older Americans access affordable hearing care by expanding Medicare. In Washington state, that means 108,000 uninsured people will gain coverage and 89,300 will on average save hundreds of dollars per year. In addition, the Build Back Better framework will support maternal health and invest in national preparedness for future pandemics.
Make education beyond high school more affordable and accessible for Washington state students: The average cost of a 2-year degree in Washington state is $4,796 per year, and $10,902 per year for a 4-year degree, straining many student budgets. To help unlock the opportunities of an education beyond high school, the Build Back Better framework will increase maximum Pell Grant awards by $550, to up to $7,045, for students at public and private non-profit institutions, supporting the 81,066 students in Washington state who rely on Pell. The framework will also invest in Washington state’s 26 minority-serving institutions and the students they serve, including Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) and Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs).
Train Washington state’s workers for the jobs of the future: Of the world’s biggest economies, the United States is second to last in investing in workforce development, and funding for federal job training programs has dropped by almost half since 2001. The Build Back Better framework invests in training programs and strong partnerships between community colleges, labor organizations, businesses, and the workforce system that will allow such partnerships to apply for funds to prepare Washington state’s workers for high-quality jobs in fast-growing sectors like public health, child care, manufacturing, IT, and clean energy.
Provide nutritious food options for Washington state children: 14% of children in Washington state live in food insecure households, harming their long-term health and ability to succeed in school. The Build Back Better framework will ensure that the nutritional needs of Washington state’s children are met by expanding access to free school meals to an additional 5,000 students during the school year and providing 481,943 students with resources to purchase food over the summer.
Support Washington state families with long-term care needs: The need for high-quality, accessible, and affordable care for older Americans and people with disabilities is only growing, but high costs and care shortages leave many to rely on family for unpaid caregiving. The Build Back Better framework will expand access to home and community-based care to more of Washington state’s senior citizens and citizens with disabilities, and improve the quality and wages of caregiving jobs.