House Democrats release “Resilient Washington” state operating budget

OLYMPIA – House Democrats unveiled their “Resilient Washington” 2023-2025 operating budget on Monday. The plan will maintain critical investments made over the last few years and increase support for K-12 and special education, workforce development, and poverty reduction. It maintains the funding and programs expanded during the pandemic to protect the most vulnerable Washingtonians, while strategically maintaining high priority investments despite reduced federal financial support. 

“We are proposing a biennial budget that invests in our teachers, students, and schools. It prioritizes behavioral health, housing and homelessness, and poverty reduction. This budget reflects the values of our House Democratic Caucus and what we have heard from the people of Washington. It is a $69.5 billion biennial budget that is both responsible and sustainable,” said Rep. Timm Ormsby (D-Spokane), chair of the Appropriations Committee. 

“Our budget takes a holistic approach to the needs of Washingtonians – needs that intersect. Investments in food security also benefit educational achievement for our kids. Investments in housing stability also improve health outcomes. Investments in responding to climate change also support economic growth and good-paying jobs. Our priorities reflected in this budget reinforce one another,” said Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-West Seattle), the House Majority Leader. 

Below are some highlights of the two-year operating budget:  

Targeted Equity Investments:  Racial equity is one of the House Democratic Caucus’s top priorities, these considerations are woven throughout the Resilient Washington budget. Listed below are a few highlighted examples of specific investments in communities of color who have historically been excluded from access and opportunity. This includes: 

  • $200 million for the Community Reinvestment Account 
  • $73 million for refugee support and education
  • $99 million to provide health care for undocumented adults (children are already covered)
  • $25 million to fund Cascade Care for low-income Medicaid ineligible individuals

Cradle to Career: “House Democrats identified education, particularly special education, as a top priority this year and are allocating $1.9 billion into our students, teachers, and schools. We are on our way to providing access to the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program for all qualifying families by 2027, and we’re also ensuring everyone has the support they need to get a degree or credential, whether you’re low-income, the first in your family to go to college, or a parent returning to school,” said Rep. Steve Bergquist (D-Renton), Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee. This includes investments to: 

  • $570 million for salary adjustment and healthcare cost increase for K-12 educators
  • $179 million to increase funding supports for special education students
  • $85 million to expand access to free meals for students
  • $10 million in dual language grants and program enhancements
  • $82 million to expand Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program slots and increase rates
  • $9 million for child-care facilities to offer non-standard hours
  • $67 million to increase workforce development at community and technical colleges 
  • $45 million to increase funding for health care workforce and training
  • $40 million to expand access to the Washington College Grant and dual credit programs

Housing, Human Services, and Poverty Reduction: “We have heard from people across our state experiencing food and housing insecurity about how important and critical this funding is to keep people from harm. We are more committed than ever to continuing the investments we’ve made during the last few years,” said Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-SeaTac), Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee. In this budget, House Democrats are investing:  

  • $128 million in food assistance programs
  • $44 million to fund an 8% increase to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), ABD and other cash assistance programs
  • $175 million for emergency housing and rental assistance
  • $150 million towards the covenant homeownership program
  • $60 million for encampment response and outreach
  • $27 million for increased funding to Housing and Essential Needs

Public Health, Behavioral Health, Long-Term Care, and Developmental Disabilities: “The pandemic exposed the healthcare related needs in our communities, that’s why we’re investing to in programs that ensure families can get their loved one care when they need it, whether they’re looking for support with substance use disorders, long term care or something else. We’re also bringing stability to our health care delivery system including our hospitals, family practice, and pediatric providers,” said Rep. Nicole Macri, (D-Seattle) Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee. That includes allocations of: 

  • $100 million in foundational public health services
  • $68 million to increase rates for healthcare workers, targeting primary care and pediatricians
  • $17 million in funding for reproductive health services and security measures
  • $344 million for a 15% rate increase for behavioral health providers
  • $193 million for additional behavioral health bed capacity
  • $139 million to expand substance use disorder prevention and treatment
  • $98 million for behavioral health crisis, outreach, and diversion programs 
  • $25 million for youth behavioral health
  • $762 million to increase homecare worker rates for individual providers
  • $339 million for adult family home collective bargaining agreements
  • Supports providers and workers with rate increases including:
  • Nursing home rates – $228 million 
  • Assisted living rates – $75 million 
  • Supported living rates – $71 million
  • Employment and community inclusion – $44 million
  • $156 million for patient transitions out of acute care hospitals

Climate Commitment Act and Natural Resources: “Washington has led the nation in fighting climate change. Our passage of the Climate Commitment Act was a prime example of this leadership, and with this budget we arrive at a new milestone on our path to a clean energy future. We’re also investing in natural resource protection and projects to protect our environment for future generations,” said Fitzgibbon. Some highlights in the Climate Commitment Act spending include: 

  • $316 million in Climate Commitment Act investments 
  • $45 million for forest health and wildfire protection
  • $25 million for biodiversity protection

For more information:  

House Democratic Caucus Resilient Washington Budget proposal news conference available on TVW here. 

Budget details from the House Office of Program Research available at 

Public Hearing on the House budget proposal in the Appropriations Committee (Monday, March 27, 4PM) available on TVW here.