Transformational investments in transportation, housing and climate lead as Legislature adjourns for 2022
Gov. Jay Inslee talks with former True Hope Village resident Tracy Williams, who found permanent housing through the rapid supportive housing program after a six-month stay in 2020.
The Legislature adjourned “sine die” Thursday night, ending a short session that realized many of the governor’s budget goals
The Legislature ended a short but historic session Thursday night, headlined by a once-in-a-generation transportation revenue package that will reduce emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels. The Legislature also closed on important investments in housing and homelessness, education, and salmon recovery along with key policies to improve health care.
“Sixty days ago, I asked for big action and 60 days later legislators delivered,” said Gov. Jay Inslee after legislators adjourned. “While some work remains for next session, legislators acted on some of the most urgent issues facing Washingtonians.”
New funding for housing and homelessness supports thousands more affordable housing units and rapid housing options
The supplemental budget approved by legislators includes significant new funding for various housing and shelter programs. The Legislature’s operating and capital budgets will support nearly 3,900 additional housing units in communities across the state.
Importantly, legislators approved more than $50 million to transition people living in unsanctioned encampments on the public right of way to permanent housing and to work with local governments and social service organizations to remediate encampment sites.
The operating budget also includes more than $21 million to expand behavioral health services.
“These rapid housing investments will help us move more people to safer, more stable housing situations within a matter of months, not years or decades,” Inslee said. “The need for helping people experiencing homelessness is an urgent one so this funding is really important.”
The Legislature’s supplemental budgets invested $829 million in homelessness and housing services. (Source: Office of Financial Management)
Climate investments and transportation package mark transformative new approach to combating climate change
During his press conference on the last day of session, Inslee lauded legislators for passing the most climate-friendly transportation revenue package in the state’s history. Inslee called the Move Ahead Washington package a “transformational, once-in-a-generation feat” that represents an understanding that a cleaner transportation system goes hand-in-hand with our climate efforts.
The Legislature accomplished this package in part by using funds raised through the Climate Commitment Act, the governor’s landmark cap-and-invest program passed by the Legislature in 2021. It also ensures the state’s ability to move forward on a new clean fuel standard. The governor thanked House and Senate transportation chairs Rep. Jake Fey and Sen. Marko Liias for their leadership.
The package includes historic investments in hybrid-electric ferries, zero emission buses, electric vehicle infrastructure and projects to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Combined with the operating budget, this package is part of a more than $1 billion investment over the next few years to ensure Washington state is ready to transition to zero emission vehicles, providing critical resources to slash emissions in the state’s highest polluting sector.
Gov. Jay Inslee speaks following a tour of the Spokane Transit Authority’s electric bus fleet Feb. 18.New policies will support creation of clean energy jobs in Washington state Inslee’s climate package this year was designed to build the clean energy future here in Washington, creating good jobs and clean energy technologies while protecting the environment and communities. The Legislature advanced the governor’s bill to improve the state’s process for siting and permitting clean energy. They also adopted tax incentives championed by the governor for clean energy manufacturing, tied to the strong labor standards first developed under the Clean Energy Transformation Act. The Legislature passed the governor’s bill to improve the government-to-government consultation process with tribes on clean energy and other projects funded by the Climate Commitment Act. This bill was the result of a year of work involving the governor’s office, legislators, and leaders from Tribes around the state. Legislators also included the governor’s request for additional solar funding and will budget more than $170 million over the next several years. While the Legislature built on past climate policy accomplishments — including expanding Washington’s nation-leading building energy performance standards — there were disappointments. Critical pieces of our path to net-zero emissions did not move forward this session. Inslee says he will continue to urge the Legislature to do more to address greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, the state’s second-largest emitter.
Gov. Jay Inslee talks with scientists at the University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute in Seattle on Feb. 23.Salmon recovery efforts receive a major funding boost The supplemental budget includes an additional $200 million to support salmon habitat restoration and recovery efforts, which Inslee called a significant and necessary investment given the Legislature did not pass the Lorraine Loomis Act. The new transportation package also includes $2.4 billion for culverts which is another major win for salmon efforts. The governor says he will continue to meet with stakeholders and convene legislators to convey the urgency of policies that restore riparian habitats across the state. Legislators bolster education and workforce development efforts Among the new education investments approved by legislators is funding that increases the number of counselors, nurses, psychologists and social workers available to K-12 students. Legislators also approved policies to promote registered apprenticeship programs that provide training opportunities for students in health care, manufacturing, construction and key sectors. Continued health care and behavioral health investments will help meet growing demand for services The new budget supports efforts to increase the state’s health care workforce, especially among nurses, nursing assistants, and medical assistants. This also included a significant rate increase for behavioral health providers and $100 million in provider relief money to support the behavioral health workforce. The pandemic highlighted the urgency of addressing shortages in the health care, behavioral health and long-term care workforce.
Gov. Jay Inslee talks with health care providers at a pop-up COVID vaccination clinic at the Tukwila Library on March 1.Ongoing COVID funding was also included to continue efforts related to vaccinations, testing, and monitoring disease and variant activity. These funds also provide local health departments with funds to operate community-level COVID activities. Additional funds were also provided to support additional capacity in long term care in order to relieve strain on hospital capacity. Washington state is increasing access to affordable health coverage by setting up a program for low-income immigrants who do not otherwise have access to health insurance. These Washingtonians will have access to a Medicaid-like program that offers high quality, affordable coverage. The Legislature passed and the governor has already signed a bill capping the cost of a 30-day supply of insulin to $35 for one year, starting next year. This budget also gives critical supports to children and youth in need of behavioral health supports. This budget significantly increases the state’s capacity of children’s long term inpatient beds — increasing from the 37 funded currently to 83 beds total by 2024 — and provides important community-based supports such as school-based health centers, youth behavioral health navigators and youth suicide prevention. Legislative session ends and focus shifts to bill action While the budget and transportation package were the focus of the last days of session and contain important provisions to help working families, legislators approved several other notable policies including: · Fixes to the state’s long-term care insurance program. · The nation’s first alert system for missing and murdered Indigenous people. · The Affirm Washington Abortion Access Act strengthens access to abortion care providers. · Gun violence prevention measures such as a ban on high-capacity magazines, open-carrying of firearms in certain public settings such as ballot-counting centers, and a ban ghost guns. The Legislature approved more than 300 bills this session. With the exception of bills containing an emergency clause, the governor will have 20 days to sign bills after they’re delivered to his office. Scheduled bill actions are available on the governor’s bill action web page.