State House Democrats release supplemental budget proposal

Focus on housing, child care, health care

Pat Sullivan

Pat Sullivan

State House Democrats rolled out their supplemental operating budget proposal for the 2019-21 biennium on Monday in Olympia, which makes adjustments to the two-year budget lawmakers approved last year.

It focuses on addressing emergent needs across the state in housing insecurity and homelessness, affordability of childcare and health-care access, according to a Washington House Democrats news release. These were some of the top priorities the caucus laid out at the start of the legislative session.

“This budget articulates our values and makes decisions that commit this state to standing up for what people want in their government,” said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, in the news release. “Even in a supplemental budget year, we used the good economic forecast to make investments that will give our children and grandchildren a chance at a fair shake.”

“These are important and valuable investments focused on areas that need to be addressed right now, this year,” said House Appropriations Chair Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane. “That’s what a responsible supplemental budget should focus on, and this one does exactly that.”

One of the biggest investments is a $100 million transfer from the state’s general fund to the Housing Trust Fund, which will go toward new affordable housing projects, homeless shelters and programs that maintain affordable housing stock.

This brings the state’s total investment in the Housing Trust Fund to $275 million for the 2019-21 biennium.

The budget also invests in increasing access to and affordability of childcare, the lack of which hurts both families and businesses across the state.

An additional $56 million will go toward helping families with low incomes pay for childcare, as well as investments to maintain subsidized pre-school slots for 3- and 4-year-olds who are most at risk of not being kindergarten-ready.

Bringing down the cost of health care for families and addressing emergent behavioral and public health needs is also prioritized in the budget proposal.

“Despite this being a supplemental budget year, we knew more has to be done to address our state’s health care and behavioral health needs,” said Vice Chair of Appropriations Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett. “We’ve targeted our investments toward the people and families that need it the most.”

In addition to increasing Medicaid primary care and nursing home rates, the budget boosts support for rural health clinics, foundational public health, and the state’s response to the coronavirus.

Behavioral health also receives additional investments in the budget, including $38 million for state hospital operations for staffing and facility needs.

Other areas of investment in the budget include $41 million to ease restrictions on temporary cash assistance to the state’s neediest families, $27.3 million to increase fire suppression funding at the state Department of Natural Resources, $17.6 million toward critical ongoing support for Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife operations, $18.9 million to address staffing and community custody needs at the Washington State Department of Corrections, and $1.3 million to fund the new state Office of Equity, which will reduce systemic disparities within state government.

The proposal does not rely on any new taxes or fund transfers. It leaves about $685 million in reserves for the biennium.

Full details of the proposal can be viewed at:

http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2020/ho2020p.asp

A vote on the budget by the full House is expected on Friday, Feb. 28. The 2020 session is slated to end on March 12.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

King County and Public Health have turned a former Econo Lodge motel into an emergency isolation/quarantine facility on Central Avenue in Kent. File photo
King County reports 27 coronavirus cases in homeless shelters

County has provided 60 motel vouchers so far for quarantining homeless individuals.

King County regional trails closed except for essential use

Green River, Interurban trails part of system

Renton business owner supports local farmers, brewers during pandemic

The Brewmaster’s Foundation weekly Community Supported Agriculture box includes fresh produce from local farms and beers from Washington breweries.

Inslee, nonprofits launch fund for state’s food banks as supply levels drop

Demand expected to double this week to 1.6 million people in need

First WA state prisoner tests positive for COVID-19

The man is the first person in Washington to contract the disease while in a state prison.

Sewing up solutions: South King firefighter designs prototype for protective gown shortage

Despite the department’s success with a one-man team, South King Fire is looking for the community’s help to sew gowns for first responders.

Students will not return to classrooms this school year

Monday’s decision applies to all schools — public, private and charter.

Most Read