The governor’s budget puts $ 600 million back into the “Rainy Day” fund, in addition to the $ 574 million required for the current two-year budget.
Over the next four years, state reserves will return to pre-pandemic levels. Total state reserves are expected to exceed $ 2.5 billion at the end of the current biennium and $ 2.8 billion at the end of the next biennium.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed unmet needs and funding gaps in various areas, including gaps in efforts to tackle homelessness and poverty statewide. When lawmakers approved the biennial budget last spring, there were critical needs the state simply could not afford to devote more funds to, such as salmon salvage, climate action and transportation. . With the state in a much stronger fiscal shape than at the start of last year, the governor is proposing significant new spending in these and other areas.
Reduce poverty statewide
Despite Washington’s ranking in the top five states for best economy, an estimated 1.7 million Washingtonians still do not have enough resources or income to maintain consistent housing, access healthy food, pay bills. utilities or meet other basic needs – and that was before the pandemic. exacerbated some of these problems.
Inslee today announced a series of budget and policy proposals to develop and implement recommendations on reducing poverty, filling gaps in benefit programs, and helping prevent people from falling out of programs – the so- saying ‘cliff edge’ – as they work to gain economic stability. These poverty reduction proposals are equivalent to $ 248 million in state and federal funds.
The governor also signed an executive order that requires the Department of Social Services and Health to chair a poverty reduction deputy cabinet. This group will identify system failures in the fight against poverty, recommend budgetary and policy proposals and implement economic initiatives. These actions will create more employment opportunities, promote economic stability to help people build assets and wealth, increase educational opportunities, invest in solutions that improve health and well-being, and support the social capital of the people and the communities in which they live.
“We must do better to help our fellow Washington who are struggling to make ends meet and who have been unfairly affected by the root causes of poverty,” Inslee said. “They are our neighbors, our families, our communities. When we are strong individually, we are stronger as a group.
The Poverty Reduction Task Force (based on an initiative launched by Inslee in 2017) made 60 recommendations and developed eight strategies to create a new way forward in poverty reduction. Co-chaired by three state agencies and made up of legislators, 10 state agencies and community organizations, the group has spent the past few years researching the root causes of poverty. The following proposals build on the group’s recommendations and will help the nearly 1.7 million Washingtonians who are struggling to make ends meet.
Here are some highlights of Inslee’s proposal to reduce poverty:
- Increase benefits and close the gaps in access to certain public assistance programs.
- Keep the resources related to the cost of care in the pockets of Washingtonians.
- Improve the educational offer for children.
- Strengthen health supports at all ages.
- Increase access to food security.
- Support people leaving state systems.
- Support nonprofits as they navigate state processes.
- Draw on the voices of those with lived experience and use a company-wide approach to reduce poverty.
The 2022 governor’s transportation budget uses both one-time and new federal funds, as well as other funds, to provide nearly $ 1 billion in resources for the transportation budget. It finances clean transport to continue reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector; and strategic investments to improve the reliability of ferry service.
Inslee’s 2022 Transportation Budget also supports increased diversity and inclusion in the transportation sector, and delivers on the state’s commitment to advancing high-speed ground transportation for the Cascadia region. The investment positions Washington to leverage federal investments in bullet train to diversify the state’s transportation system and help meet climate priorities.
In addition to spending $ 324 million on the electrification of ferries, which the system needs both to replace our aging ferry fleet and to help fight climate change, the governor is investing just over $ 40 million. dollars to attract and retain employees to work for our ferry system.