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SEIU Healthcare 1199NW applauds Gov. Jay Inslee’s inclusion of progressive revenue, climate action
in proposed budget
Healthcare workers say new revenue necessary for Washington’s economy, health to recover from coronavirus pandemic

Members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, a union of nearly 32,000 healthcare and behavioral health workers in Washington state, were pleased to see progressive revenue measures included in Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed budget.

Washington’s upside-down tax code means working people like SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members and their patients are paying more than the wealthy individuals and corporations that benefit from public investments. Capital gains is a critical revenue tool that 41 states, D.C., and the federal government all have—and Washington desperately needs—as some of the wealthiest individuals in the world live in this state. Urgent action is also needed to address the climate crisis by reducing carbon pollution and ensuring polluters pay to support our transition to a clean economy and to mitigate the health impacts of inequitable climate impact.

“As a healthcare worker on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve seen first-hand that we have some work to do to make our economy and our healthcare system work for everyone,” said Sharon Miller-Stephens, a registered nurse with DSHS and member of the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW bargaining team. “The best recovery solution is to keep money flowing to communities, continue providing services that we all rely on, keep people working, and to ask the people succeeding the most to pay more in taxes. The governor’s budget is a great first step in meeting this goal and rebuilding our economy so it can work for everyone.”

Members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW have been treating COVID-19 patients since the start of community spread, and have seen the impact of health disparity and systemic racial inequities in the health outcomes of their sickest COVID-19 patients. Healthcare and behavioral health workers say that asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share and investing in healthcare, climate action, childcare, education and food assistance will go a long way to healing the underlying issues that impact the health of many of their patients.

“COVID-19 was the unanticipated pandemic that has defined 2020, but racial injustice and the climate crisis are the pandemics we have lived with for too long,” said Betsy Scott, registered nurse at Swedish Medical Center and Vice President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. “We cannot stop at putting the coronavirus in the rearview mirror. We have to take action to ensure that our budgets and tax structure promote racial equity for our collective wellbeing. And we have to recognize that climate change is a public health crisis that demands we put a stop to carbon pollution in our communities and invest in a green, healthy future backed by union jobs. Now, thank you, Governor Inslee, for leading on these priorities.”

Washington state’s tax system is the worst in the nation, with the lowest-income families paying the biggest share. The never-ending revenue crisis created by this regressive tax system has meant that patients, students and housing-insecure individuals and families have been pitted against each other to fight over scraps during every budget cycle. Healthcare workers say that Gov. Inslee’s proposed budget takes the first step to create a more equitable system that will have a positive impact for their patients and communities.

While the pandemic has changed the way everyone lives and works, including healthcare workers and lawmakers, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members say they are planning to take their message “virtually” to Olympia. They will encourage their legislators to move forward on progressive revenue this legislative session and to look beyond Governor Inslee’s relatively modest proposals to bolder approaches that will allow investment in the full recovery Washingtonians need to build back better.


About SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with nearly 32,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and western Montana. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s mission is to advocate for quality care and good jobs for all.

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