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State-funded policy changes would increase spending by $3.214 billion in 2021–23

Earlier I wrote about the 2021 supplemental budget passed by the Legislature on Sunday. The Legislature also passed a 2021–23 operating budget. Because the governor has not yet signed the budget, these numbers are not final. Additionally, future posts will look at the federal relief funding allocated in the budget. This post is solely about appropriations from funds subject to the outlook (NGFO).

As passed by the Legislature, 2021–23 NGFO appropriations are $59.193 billion. Of that, the maintenance level (the cost of continuing current services, adjusted for inflation and caseloads) is $55.980 billion. New policies add $3.214 billion. The policy changes include savings from the enhanced federal Medicaid match (FMAP) that was enacted as part of the federal COVID relief bills. This federal funding is used in lieu of the NGFO, saving the state $621.2 million in 2021–23. (The chart below removes these savings to better show the impact of the new policy spending.)

Public schools accounted for 50.7% of NGFO spending in the 2020 supplemental. The 2021 supplemental increased that share to 50.8%. In 2021–23, the share of the NGFO budget appropriated for public schools drops to 47.7%.

Notable NGFO policy changes in the 2021–23 budget include:

  • $149.4 million (including $1.3 million in the 2021 supplemental) to address the state Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Blake.
  • $242.0 million for the working families’ tax exemption, plus another $19.0 million for administration of the program.
  • Savings of $56.1 million from closing 180 beds at Western State Hospital.
  • $59.9 million to continue temporary COVID rate enhancements for long-term care and developmental disabilities service providers from June 2021 through December 2021.
  • $110.7 million related to the shared benefit adjustment rulemaking.
  • $25.0 million for a 15% increase to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant.
  • $45.9 million to increase primary care provider rates.
  • $32.0 million for reentry services for offenders.
  • Savings of $48.6 million from reducing the maximum sanction for violating community supervision from 30 to 15 days.
  • Net savings of $7.2 million from the Fair Start for Kids Act (it is funded mostly with federal relief in 2021–23).
  • $130.5 million for long-term forest health (2SHB 1168).
  • $51.6 million for counselors in high poverty schools.
  • $27.4 million for learning recovery.
  • $23.5 million for a connectivity enhancement for public schools and $24.0 million for learning device grants.
  • $34.0 million for emergency pupil transportation funding (to address the fact that there are fewer riders in SY 2020–21). (On top of $117.1 million for this purpose in the 2021 supplemental.)
  • $27.8 million for enrollment stabilization for school districts that do not receive federal relief funding sufficient “to offset reductions to state revenues due to declines in enrollments” from SY 2019–20 to SY 2020–21. (This is on top of $95.9 million for this purpose in the 2021 supplemental.)
  • $40.0 million to support Harborview Medical Center and the UW Medical Center.
  • $800.0 million to reduce the unfunded liability in the Teachers’ Retirement System Plan 1.
  • $146.8 million for foundational public health.
  • $50.0 million for the state health care affordability account.
  • $50.0 million for the Dan Thompson memorial developmental disabilities community services account.
  • $142.8 million to enhance Medicaid home and community-based services.
  • $37.0 million for the affordable housing for all account for permanent supportive housing.
  • $30.0 million for counties and $20.0 million for cities for “one-time costs related to law enforcement and criminal justice related legislation enacted between January 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.”

(An overview of the budget passed by the Legislature is here.)

This article was provided by the Washington Research Council

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