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How the operating budgets address Coronavirus

With the growing threat of coronavirus, or COVID-19, foremost on the minds of many, both the House and Senate supplemental operating budgets allotted amounts to establish measures to curb the virus’s spread in Washington State. 

In the House supplemental operating budget, $5 million was allotted to combatting the coronavirus. The dollars to fight COVID-19 would to go to the state’s Disaster Response Account. The Senate, by comparison, allotted $10 million in one-time funding to fighting the growing virus, dollars which will go to establishing a call center and to monitor cases in the state. 

While neither the House or Senate supplemental capital budgets contain line items directed at combating COVID-19, legislative staffers with knowledge of how the operating budgets would be spent applauded the legislature for making coronavirus response a priority. 

According to one staffer who spoke on condition of anonymity, officials from the Department of Human Services asked the Senate Ways & Means Committee for upwards of $100 million to combat COVID-19 on Monday morning, a response to the reported outbreak in Kirkland after the Senate supplemental operating budget was passed. That staff member also said the actual amount that will be approved in future versions of the budget will likely be a lot closer to what DHS asked for on Monday than what was approved last week. 

The allocations to fighting COVID-19 aren’t the only notable public health expenditures included in the House and Senate budgets this year. In the Senate’s 2020 supplemental operating budget, for example, spending on the Department of Health & Social Services Mental Health Program totaled $1.04 million this year, compared to $997 million last year. The State Health Care Authority’s medical assistance program was allotted $18.4 billion, while the Department of Health got more than $1.1 billion. In 2019, the State Health Care Authority’s medical assistance program got $17.2 billion, while the Department of Health got $1.1 billion 

The House 2020 supplemental operating budget also allotted a similar amount to the Department of Health & Social Services Mental Health Program as well as the State Health Care Authority. The Department of Health, similarly, was allotted $1.1 billion. 


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