She says housing also remains out of reach for many, even after this year’s downturn in real estate values. The report shows men are making an average of $266 less per month than they did in 2000, and women’s monthly take-home pay is only 65 percent of men’s.
State lawmakers will soon have to deal with these results, as well as a grim budget forecast. The report includes suggestions for expanding the state tax base – such as taxing candy, gum and soft drinks – and it recommends more family-friendly policies in workplaces. But how much the legislature can agree on is anybody’s guess, says Watkins.
"I think it’s a matter of political will. And it’s a matter of all of us really taking a hard-headed look, not just at this month, but next year – and in five years."
The report indicates only those at the top income levels have prospered in Washington in the last decade; it makes a case for changing the state tax structure so that higher-income residents pay more. Conservative lawmakers are already saying that’s not an option, however, because families and business owners can’t afford higher taxes.