OLYMPIA – The Washington State Legislature passed a historic budget today that focuses on an equitable recovery from the economic and health impacts of COVID-19.
The 2021-23 operating budget uses a combination of ongoing state revenue and federal funds from the American Rescue Plan to provide back-due rent relief, small business support, strengthen the state’s safety net, build upon investments in local public health, and prioritize needs of low-income and communities of color who have suffered the most impacts due to the pandemic.
“This is a budget that meets the moment and will guide a sustainable and equitable recovery based on lessons that we’ve learned over the past year,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. “It supports our smallest businesses, rebuilds our precarious childcare system, boosts public health efforts, sustains K-12 education, and even commits to protecting communities against the catastrophic fires we saw last Labor Day. It’s a reflection of our collective strength, determination, and will to recover together.”
“This is a momentous budget for a time that calls for action. Families and neighbors who have felt held back and forgotten are lifted up with these investments. This budget honors the sacrifices the people in this state have made and reinforces our values of helping those who need it the most,” said Rep. Timm Ormsby (D-Spokane), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Investments included in the final budget build upon previous action to reduce unemployment insurance tax rate increases, provide small business grants, boost rental relief and housing and homelessness assistance, and expand food assistance and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
Completing the 2021-23 operating budget puts a cap to a historic session, where most lawmakers worked remotely due to the pandemic. Members of both chambers focused on passing legislation that responded to the state’s needs due to COVID-19, addressing public health, community investments, economic recovery, racial equity and justice, climate change, and behavioral health. Prior to this year, no Washington State Legislature has ended on time four years in a row without a special session since 1941.
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