A budget to help families recover, video updates on youth homelessness and gun safety


It’s been a big week for state budgets! In the House, the Democratic operating budget team unveiled a proposal that’s all about moving past the pandemic and helping families get back on their feet. Everyone deserves to come out of this pandemic better than they went into it. We need investments that support families and workers and that’s what our budget does. (Info on the capital budget and transportation budget to come)

You can read more about the operating budget in this newsletter, as well as hear about youth homelessness and gun safety proposals moving through the Legislature.

House budget proposal highlights

While there are significant investments in our state budget highlighted below, I’m excited to share a few “little things” I advocated for that made it into the proposal: parent navigators to help incarcerated parents navigate the child welfare system, an implementation plan for a statewide background check office, and funding for a new archive system for the Washington State Jewish Historical Society to preserve Jewish Washingtonians’ stories and primary source materials from across the state.

Here’s some major highlights from the House budget proposal:

K-12 Education

  • $315 million to support our schools, which went above and beyond during the pandemic
  • $108 million to expand social-emotional support in schools, like nurses and counselors, as our kids struggle with stress, anxiety and depression as we come out of COVID-19
  • $20 million to expand outdoor school programs. While our local schools visit Camp Orkila or IslandWood, not every student has that same opportunity to learn outside. This funding will get more kids exploring and loving nature and science.
  • $44 million for more free lunches in more schools for students

Early Learning & Child Care

  • $78 million for Working Connections Child Care to boost pay for child care providers and stabilize child care through enrollment based payments
  • $13 million to expand Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), the state’s pre-K program, including over the summer
  • $22 million to increase funding to expand placement options to ensure foster youth are not forced to sleep in hotels and offices

Housing & Homelessness

  • $500 million to the state capital budget for housing
  • $212 million for utility assistance and $55 million for expanded rental assistance
  • $24 million to provide services for people living on right of ways, a necessary step in helping address homelessness in unsafe areas on state land
  • $16 million to prevent youth homelessness

Behavioral Health

  • $51 million to increase rates for mental health and substance use disorder providers
  • $100 million for behavioral health providers impacted by COVID-19
  • $28 million for housing and employment services for people struggling with behavioral health issues, and $29 million for crisis, outreach and diversion programs

Higher Education

  • $300 million to create the Washington Student Loan program, and $45 million to expand the Washington College Grant and offer bridge grants to help cover other costs
  • $6 million to improve student FAFSA filing, so more students get access to state financial aid, like the Washington College Grant program

Small Business & Economic Development

  • $200 million for assistance to hospitality businesses, which have been hit hard by the pandemic
  • $45 million to support a small business innovation and competitiveness fund
  • $25 million to expand small business assistance for arts, heritage and cultural organizations

Tune in for video updates on youth homelessness and gun safety

We’re just a few weeks away from the end of session. Check out my latest videos for updates on my bills to reduce youth homelessness and gun violence:

  • My bill, HB 1905, to help ensure young people have safe, stable housing after being in publicly funded systems of care, including foster care, behavioral health in-patient treatment and juvenile rehabilitation, passed the House earlier this month. This bill is one way we can let youth and young adults know: we see you, we hear you and we support you. Watch more here.

  • Last week, on the anniversary of the tragic Parkland school shooting, the House passed my bill, HB 1630, to ban guns at school board meetings and ballot counting centers and the open carry of guns at city and county council meetings. As someone who has witnessed the devastation of gun violence and understands the toll it takes on our communities, I will continue to champion gun safety legislation. Watch more here.

Thanks for reading! And thank you to everyone who took the time to join our virtual town hall on Tuesday. If you couldn’t make it, you can watch the whole thing here.

Take care,

Tana Senn