Nikki Lockwood, a parent with children in Spokane Public Schools, addresses a crowd of more than 50 people yesterday in a protest against a looming state government shutdown at Parkview Early Learning Center.
As the state legislature inches closer to a potential government shutdown
, members of the Spokane community rallied on Thursday to urge lawmakers to reach a budget deal.
With lawmakers having less than eight days to reach that deal, the All In For Action coalition hosted several protests across the state, blaming Senate Republicans for the state of stasis.
Pastor Andy CastroLang, from the Westminster Congressional United Church of Christ, was the first to take to the podium in front of a crowd of more than 50 people, stressing the importance of reaching a budget deal.
“Our budget is a moral document that reflects our values as a state,” says CastroLang. “It’s time for the Legislature to get its job done to ensure families throughout our communities do not suffer.”
If a deal isn’t reached by midnight on June 30, an estimated 32,000 state employees would stop receiving paychecks, nearly 11,000 camping reservation holders for the Fourth of july weekend will be notified of state park closures, and about 31,000 low-income, working families will lose child care payment assistance, according to the state Office of Financial Management (OFM).
“It’s time for the Senate to come to the table to avoid the devastating impacts that come along with a government shutdown,” says Luc Jasmin, director of Parkview Early Learning Center on North Division, where the rally was held.
“Thousands of families and kids depend upon not only childcare services from the state, but also access to food programs and other safety net programs. The devastating cuts in the Senate’s budget proposal are unacceptable, and it’s time for them to do what we teach our children — work together and find common ground.”
This last-minute budget standoff between House Democrats and Senate Republicans is similar to budget standoffs in 2013 and 2015 – both of which ended up being resolved.
As children raced around the playground on their tricycles while Jasmin spoke, his message was clear: cut the funding for child care centers, and families and their children will suffer.
With Thursday marking the first day that state agencies began distributing 32,000 pink slips — temporary layoff notices — to state employees, the sentiment of urgency was commonly expressed throughout.
“They have to start acting this week,” says Fuse Washington campaign director Jim Dawson about Senate Republicans in the rally’s final statement. “Otherwise they won’t be able to pass a budget in time to avoid a shutdown, and avoid all the terrible impacts that we’ve heard today, along with many, many more.”