OLYMPIA – The Legislature approved the 2020 supplemental operating budget today as the 60-day legislative session ended on time. In a late addition, lawmakers increased emergency coronavirus funding from $100 million to $200 million.
With the passage of House Bill 2965, a total of $175 million will be directed to state and local public health agencies and the remaining $25 million will be transferred into the newly created COVID-19 unemployment account to help businesses and workers disrupted by the pandemic.
“It’s crucial that the people of Washington have the full support of the Legislature behind them during these challenging times,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. “Even after we leave Olympia today, we will be collaborating closely with Gov. Inslee’s office to ensure they have the resources and authority they need.”
The COVID-19 unemployment account will mitigate costs for businesses due to an expected increase in unemployment insurance claims.
The increased coronavirus funding was the only major change from the budget agreement reached between the House and Senate on Wednesday (see original press release immediately below). The Legislature finished its work on time for the third straight year and is scheduled to return next January for a 105-day session.
OLYMPIA – Budget leaders in the House and Senate today unveiled a $1 billion, 2020 supplemental operating budget that provides an additional $160 million to address housing and homelessness as well as $100 million to support the state and local response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The budget plan includes no new general taxes and complies with the state’s four-year balanced budget requirement. It leaves $3 billion in total reserves at the end of the biennium, the largest balance in state history. Over the four-year outlook, the reserves are expected to grow to $3.6 billion.
The budget includes significant new investments in childcare and early learning programs to address the immediate needs of working households.
“This budget will make progress on urgent needs across our state — public health, housing, childcare and climate resilience,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. “It’s a plan that balances our needs with fiscal discipline. We’ve done our best to prepare our state for an uncertain, volatile economy.”
The budget adds a just over $1 billion in new spending to the $52.4 billion, two-year budget passed by lawmakers last April.
“This budget makes prudent and responsible investments where they are needed most. We confront the scourge of homelessness and commit significant resources to combat the coronavirus outbreak,” said Rep. Timm Ormsby (D-Spokane), chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
The additional $100 million in coronavirus funds fulfills a request by the state Department of Health.
“We continue to strengthen our foundational public health investments. This budget ensures our health departments have the resources they need to respond to any public health threat,” Rolfes said.
More than $150 million will target the immediate shelter needs of the state’s growing homeless population and support new affordable housing programs.
“Across our state, too many people are living in their cars or on the street. This budget ensures that more of our neighbors will be able to find and maintain safe, affordable housing,” said Rep. June Robinson (D-Everett), vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Other highlights of the budget include additional funding for K-12 education, climate resilience, rural health clinics and nursing homes.
Highlights of the 2020 Supplemental Budget Proposal
- $100 million to cover costs associated with the coronavirus outbreak, including a dedicated call center, monitoring, testing and support for local health jurisdictions.
- $160 million to address homelessness and affordable housing, including:
- $60 million in one-time funding to shelter homeless adults, families and youth across the state.
- $15 million (per year) for the state’s Housing and Essential Needs program.
- $40 million for the state’s Housing Trust Fund.
- $10 million in rapid-response funding to help more individuals stay in their homes.
- $15 million (per year) for permanent supportive housing.
- $5 million for maintenance and preservation.
- $50 million to address the climate crisis by investing in communities and projects to enhance mitigation and resilience.
- $153 million to the state Department of Children and Families to reduce childcare rates for working families ($65M), strengthen the foster care system ($52M), expand early learning programs ($15M), and other increases.
- $172 million for K-12 education in the form of local levy assistance ($46M), counselors in high poverty schools ($32M), special education ($2M), pupil transportation ($41M), paraeducator training ($14M), student mental health and safety ($3M), and other increases.
- Health care: Investments in primary care physician rate increases ($10M), rural health clinics ($34M), family planning ($8M), foundational public health ($17M), and other increases.
Other budget items of note include:
- $51 million to help meet the increasing demand for the state new Paid Family Leave Program
- $18 million to support struggling nursing homes by increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates.
- $25 million for wildfire suppression and prevention.
- $24 million for operations at the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- $2 million for enhanced election technology and security.
- $4 million for state parks.
About the Supplemental Budget
Supplemental budgets are passed in even years and allow the state to make mid-course corrections to the two-year budgets passed in odd years. It gives the state the opportunity to adjust spending to keep families safe, provide high-quality education, and address other emergent needs like public health.