At $17.6 million, the attaboy-bonus Washington just got for shrinking the number of uninsured kids from 4.6 to 3.4 percent in the past year won't plug the $4.6-billion hole in the state's two-year budget. And as an unrestricted grant, that money can go anywhere, not just back into the cash-starved Apple Health program, which insures more than 700,000 kids, and part of which has been doomed under Gregoire's recently proposed 2011-13 budget hackfest.
The Seattle Timesreported Monday that the grants are given through a program started under the Obama administration which rewards states for showing results on getting kids insured.
Activists seem convinced that they can keep the money slated for Apple Health, which would lose some 27,000 undocumented children from its ranks unless propped up.
"Covering all kids made good sense in good times; it makes even better sense now," said Jon Gould, Deputy Director of the Children's Alliance in a statement.
Much of the Capitol was out on Monday for furloughs, so no one was able to get ahold of many lawmakers to ask them where they felt the money could best be spent.
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown did say she'd like to see the cash stay put, releasing the statement:
"These bonus funds help us keep this successful program going in a tough budget environment, and provide an example of how to leverage all available resources to keep our critical commitments intact."
But with the state's budget leaking like a sieve, there will be plenty of lawmakers and advocates looking for any cash they can grab to stuff in the holes of their pet projects. So we'll believe any sudden appearances of free, no-strings-attached cash are being used for what they were meant for when we see it.