A new report, “The Color of Cuts: The Disproportionate Impact of Budget Cuts on Communities of Color in Washington State,” written by the Washington Community Action Network and endorsed by 64 community organizations, reveals that people of color in Washington are bearing the brunt of state budget cuts.
Community groups representing communities of color, immigrants, labor, faith-based groups, and social justice organizations released the report at the International Community Health Services Clinic, a clinic that has suffered many budget cuts and serves predominantly immigrant, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle.
The Color of Cuts analyzes how the recently passed supplemental budget and the governor’s proposed biennial budget impact racial equity in Washington. With Census data showing significant increases among Asians, Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants, the Color of Cuts highlights the many budget cuts communities have suffered this year and how cuts put the quality of life of thousands of Washingtonians at risk.
“In order to eliminate racial disparities in our state, lawmakers must consider how their decisions affect all communities. The Color of Cuts is a tool to help lawmakers craft the biennial budget,” said Dorry Elias-Garcia of the Minority Executive Directors Coalition. “With Washington becoming more diverse, eliminating programs that help people of color stay healthy and thrive undercuts our long-term economic success as a state.”
Community members present at the event shared personal stories of how the budget cuts are hurting their children and their families. “I am a mother of two and my daughters’ future hangs in the balance as lawmakers work on the biennial budget. Both of my girls rely on food assistance and Apple Health to stay healthy. Recent budget cuts have put at risk what little we have,” said Dara Kommavongsa, Washington Community Action Network member. “We are not alone in this. Many people of color are going through what we’re going through and it needs to stop.”
The Color of Cuts report calls on lawmakers to pursue budget solutions rooted in promoting racial equity in Washington.
Among the recommendations is rejecting cuts and policies that widen or worsen racial disparities, and supporting proposals that increase transparency in state tax loopholes and raise revenue to protect vital services.
Teresita Batayola, executive director of the International Community Health Services Clinic, shared how budget cuts are affecting patients at her clinic.
“Roughly 55 percent of our patients on Basic Health have lost coverage and 50 percent of patients who relied on adult dental health services have lost coverage except for emergency care. Budget cuts are devastating our patients and our communities.” ♦
For more information or to view a copy of the report, visit www.scribd.com.