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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Inslee signs $64 billion supplemental budget into law

Inslee  (Ted S. Warren)

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday signed a $64.1 billion supplemental budget that will make new investments in K-12 schools, programs designed to reduce poverty and homelessness, behavioral health and helping the state recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

During supplemental budget years, legislators are tasked with adjusting the two-year budget passed the year prior. It will be in place through the end of the budget cycle in 2023. This year, lawmakers had an unprecedented amount of money to use to adjust the next year’s spending.

Inslee said Thursday that legislators made “big progress” this year on their investments in the budget.

Lawmakers had more than $5 billion in additional revenue plus $1.2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds not yet spent to adjust their budget from last year. Budget writers called it “unusual” with the amount of extra money.

It leaves $800 million in reserves for the next two years plus an additional $2.75 billion in an account set aside for emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inslee’s proposed budget from December would have spent almost $62 billion and invested new money into housing, climate change, salmon recovery and transportation. The final budget did not include all of Inslee’s proposals from December. Bills including one allowing duplexes, triplexes and other middle housing on all lands, a salmon recovery plan to add wooded land along rivers and streams and plans to lower emissions from buildings across the state did not make it through this session. But Inslee praised legislators for their investments in housing, behavioral health and fighting climate change.

“I am pleased that the legislators gave us relief that is big that is bold that is fast,” Inslee said of the Legislature’s investments in housing.

He also gave a nod to the 16-year, $17 billion transportation package, which he signed last week. It will fund new transit, electrification of the ferry fleet and road projects and maintenance statewide.

Republicans criticized the final budget for not having more large-scale tax breaks. With much of the additional money being one-time funds, Democrats said it has targeted tax breaks, such as exempting small businesses that make less than $125,000 a year from business and operations taxes in Washington.

The budget includes a significant amount of funding for K-12 education, including money to adjust for inflation for salaries and materials, as well as funding for additional nurses, counselors and support staff. It also funds a number of initiatives to increase the number of nurses and health care workers in the state.

There’s also money for refugee assistance for those coming from Afghanistan and Ukraine.

More than $350 million is included to increase rates for vendors providing services to people with developmental disabilities or long-term care needs.

More than $230 million will fund wage increases for state employees as per their collective bargaining agreements last year.

Inslee also signed a $1.5 billion supplemental capital budget that funds construction projects across the state, including funding for affordable housing, behavioral health resources, broadband infrastructure, and seismic safety and retrofitting in schools.

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.