December 18, 2020
The 2019–21 operating budget (including the 2020 supplemental) appropriated $53.700 billion from funds subject to the outlook (NGFO). Gov. Inslee would reduce that amount by $915.1 million, to $52.785 billion.
Maintenance level (the cost of continuing current services) changes would reduce appropriations by $1.254 billion and new policies would increase spending by $338.5 million.
Many of the maintenance level changes are due to lower caseloads, especially in public schools. The governor’s budget documents note (specifically about the K–12 enrollment savings) that he “proposes reinvesting some of that savings to meet critical needs, while using the rest to help balance the budget.”
Notable new policy proposals include (from the NGFO unless otherwise noted):
- $164.0 million for rental assistance (from all funds). Of this, $100 million would come from the budget stabilization account (BSA, or the rainy day fund); $41.9 million would come from the home security fund (after being transferred there from the housing trust fund); and $22.1 million would come from the NGFO.
- $100.0 million for business grants (from the BSA).
- $125.9 million for the Department of Health for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, care coordination, data collection, communications, and other outbreak response.
- $60.0 million for the University of Washington to support operations at Harborview and the UW Medical Center.
- $41.7 million for the Department of Natural Resources for FY 2021 fire suppression.
- $20.0 million for the Department of Agriculture for the emergency food assistance program.
- $10.0 million for the immigrant relief fund.
- $9.0 million for disaster cash assistance.
- The Employment Security Department would be required to study the “feasibility of replicating the unemployment insurance program for and expanding other social net programs to individuals regardless of their citizenship status.”
- The budget would save $52.4 million by using marijuana tax revenue in lieu of general fund dollars for certain Medicaid payments.
It looks like the governor’s savings measures from earlier this year (e.g. the hiring freeze and other efficiencies) saved $33.4 million and the furloughs and cancelled raises saved $53.0 million in the biennium.
The supplemental would transfer $1.774 billion from the BSA to the NGFO. With this transfer and the $200 million in appropriations from the BSA noted above, the BSA ending balance for 2019–21 would be zero.
I provided an overview of the governor’s operating budget proposals yesterday. Stay tuned for more on the proposals over the next few weeks.Categories: Budget.