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April 8, 2004

Message from the Governor
Tax day is coming soon. It's a time when people rush to fill out their forms, hoping to get some money back from Uncle Sam. Governor Locke

I want to spread the message to our low- and moderate-income families in Washington that they can qualify for thousands of dollars from the federal government—even if they owe no taxes!

It's made possible through the Earned Income Tax Credit—or the EITC—a federal program that rewards work. Last year, the EITC put more than $537 million into the pockets of Washington workers, which was used to buy food and clothes, to pay rent and fix cars. That, in turn, helped our state's businesses and our state's economy.

Last year, Washington experienced a 16.5 percent increase in EITC dollars claimed over the previous year.

This money makes a difference in the lives of our hard working citizens. It helps our businesses and the state's economy. But families must file a claim to qualify for the money.

Washington has always been a leader in the number of citizens filing for the EITC. State government staffs a hotline, provides information on our WorkFirst and WorkSource Web sites and at our WorkSource offices, and even sends out direct mail notices.

Quote of the Week
“Millions of federal dollars are still going unclaimed by deserving families in Washington—money that could help them pay their bills and put food on the table—simply because they don't know the Earned Income Tax Credit is available.”
-Governor Locke, April 7, 2004

But we're working even harder this year to make sure that everyone who qualifies is made aware of this opportunity.

We've made new, free software available at all of our WorkSource offices across the state and on our WorkSource Web site. The software shows people how to file for the EITC. They can even fill out the form at the WorkSource office, print it up, and send it off to the IRS!

The people of Washington work hard, and they should keep as much of their earnings as possible.

The EITC rewards people for working. We want everyone who qualifies to file—and put their hard earned money to work for themselves and their families.

Gary Locke
Gary Locke

Governor's Priorities
News Highlights
Focus on Disaster Preparation
Governor Locke has declared April as Disaster Preparedness Month in Washington. Government agencies, businesses, schools and citizens will use Disaster Preparedness Month to review emergency response plans and to participate in the statewide earthquake drill on April 22. “I encourage all citizens to increase their knowledge and awareness of proper safety measures to follow before, during, and after a natural or man-made disaster,” Governor Locke said. The Emergency Management Division of Washington's Military Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and city and county emergency management agencies will highlight the importance of practicing preparedness and increasing awareness of disaster planning during the month-long campaign.

Commitment to Civil Rights Gov. Locke and Pastor Martin Governor Locke met with Pastor Jason Martin on March 30 to show his support for the pastor and condemn bigotry in Washington. Martin, a black minister, woke early March 24 to find a cross burning in his front yard. “Our hearts go out to Pastor Martin and his family,” the Governor said. “We are profoundly humbled by Pastor Martin's shining example of forgiveness, dignity and compassionate wisdom. I urge all citizens across our state to join in supporting Pastor Martin and his family, and to use this ugly episode to teach our children about civil rights and the evils of racism.”

Improving Services for Individuals with Disabilities
The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is launching a new task force designed to increase employment opportunities for people with mental health disabilities. DSHS' Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Mental Health Division will collaborate on improving services to individuals with mental health disabilities. A task force has been appointed by the agency to bring mental health administrators, advocates, providers and consumers together from around Washington to share ideas and recommendations on how to improve services to individuals with mental health disabilities.

Success Story—Fighting the Flu
The Uniform Medical Plan (UMP) continues to build on its successful flu shot promotion. For the second year in a row, the program sent a direct mail flyer last fall to its enrollees, offering free flu shots as part of their preventive care benefit. Previously, UMP enrollees needed to make a doctor's appointment to get their UMP coverage to pay for these shots. Now they can take the flyer to a local pharmacy or any place offering flu shots, and UMP will reimburse the full cost (up to $20). Each year, the response has shown significant growth. In 2003, nearly 11,000 state employees and their dependents took advantage of the offer -- a 173% increase over 2001, the year before UMP started sending the flyers. For an investment of just 28 cents in mailing and production costs, many UMP members had a healthier start for 2004. UMP is the Health Care Authority-administered preferred provider option for enrollees of the Public Employees Benefits Board program.

Upcoming Events
4/9:   China Conference, Olympia
4/12:  Teacher of the Year Ceremony, Olympia
4/15:  Dave Ross Show, Seattle

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