The big news this week is that the revenue forecast was quite good…. In fact, we are very close to projections related to collections had there not been a pandemic! This, along with the influx of federal dollars, puts the legislature in a much different position we than thought we would be in last spring/summer when it looked like we could have a close to $9b deficit. Phew!
Another newsworthy item of note is the proclamation issued by Governor Inslee about the opening of schools and focus on children/youth behavioral health.
Exactly what will come as a result of the proclamation in terms of behavioral health investments remains to be seen but discussions between legislators and stakeholders have already begun. It is unclear how much (one-time) money will be available for this investment. The need is great, so finding ways to spend whatever is available shouldn’t be too difficult!
On tap for next week is at least, the Senate operating budget, and possibly the House budget as well. The Senate budget likely will be released on March 25th and heard on March 26th.
Some of the federal American Rescue Plan funds likely will be appropriated in the budget but guidance on how to spend a significant portion of the dollars has not yet been issued by the feds. It is unclear what the legislature will do in terms of appropriating those resources. These are some of the major issues that need to be resolved over the next month+. Stay tuned!
Bills continue to move through the committees on the opposite house. Given a number of committees will be taking executive action today (March 19th), the tracker will likely be a bit out of date by the time you receive it. For example, several child welfare bills (HB1194, HB1227, and HB1219) are scheduled for exec action today so it would be good to check leg.wa.gov for the latest on these and other bills you are particularly interested in.
In the Partner's for Our Children bill tracker, we will not summarize amendments made on most of the bills but will, either in this tracker or next week’s, include additional summaries of some of the bills we are watching more closely!
If you have questions, concerns, or whatever, don’t hesitate to contact Nicole or me (contact info below). And to watch hearings, floor action, and much more, go to TVW.org.
Here’s to spring!
Thank you for your continued interest in issues related to children, youth, and families.