Washington Session Is Over - United Ways of the Pacific Northwest Legislative Wrap Up

The 2022 Washington State Legislative Session is over.  There are lots of reasons to be delighted with the results of this year’s session – which saw new investments unprecedented for an “off” budget year.  And some good reasons, after everyone catches their breath, to plan how we will reach out and continue to forge meaningful relationships with legislators. Let’s start with some highlights of this session as it relates to the United Ways of Washington’s 2022 Legislative Agenda.  Please forward to your Boards, staff and key volunteers.

Ensure Equitable Economic Recovery & Support for Struggling Families & Individuals

  • Working Families Tax Credit - The Legislature has adopted a supplemental operating budget that includes $10 million to support community outreach efforts for the Working Families Tax Credit to ensure that eligible households are able to claim this important financial benefit. Also, the program should run smoother with the passage of technical clarifications in HB 2096.
  • Basic Income  - HB 2009 would have created a Basic Income Trust program that would provide monthly cash assistance to qualified Washington residents. This proposal is similar to the Guaranteed Income Initiative in Tacoma pilot that is operating through most of this year. Instead, the Legislature authorized funding for a study on the feasibility of implementing a universal basic income pilot program. 
  • Washington Future Fund - HB 1861 and SB 5752 would have created a state trust fund that would help people born into families of limited means to have an investment saving account that could provide a boost later in life to help with college, business startup or home purchase. Instead, this year’s budget funds a deep look at how this “baby bonds" investment model could reduce wealth gaps.

Increase Access, Affordability, and Quality of Child Care and Early Learning for Working Families

  • Dolly Parton Imagination Library - The Legislature approved HB 2068, which creates the Imagination Library program within the state’s Department of Children, Youth and Families. But this program is already rolling thanks to a contract between the United Ways of Pacific Northwest and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Washington affiliates can receive a 50 percent match in their efforts to put books into the hands of children under five years of age. Current enrollment exceeds 20,000 children with big growth expected in the coming months with newly launched affiliates, United Way of Kitsap, Whatcom and Whitman Counties, and United Way of Central Washington which just confirmed that it will provide affiliate coverage to all of Kittitas County. Learn more.
  • ECEAP Expansion - The new budget will expand ECEAP school-day slots by over 1,700 and convert nearly 1,900 slots from part-day to school-day by Fiscal Year 2025.
  • Working Connections Child Care -  Child care centers will receive a rate increase with assurance that child care centers and family child care homes will be reimbursed at the 85th percentile per the 2021 Market Rate Survey beginning July 1, 2023 
  • Early Learning Facilities Capital Improvements - The Legislature’s Capital Budget authorizes $30 million in additional investments in new and rehabilitated facilities.

Increase Access to Affordable Housing and Invest in Solutions to the Homeless Public Health Crisis 

  • Housing Trust Fund and Housing Acquisition - The new Capital budget includes an additional $114 million for the Housing Trust Fund and $240 million dedicated to rapid housing acquisition.
  • Helping the Unhoused - The supplemental operating budget includes $55 million for homelessness service providers and $45 million for services to help transition people experiencing unsheltered homelessness into affordable housing  
  • Youth Housing Bill  HB 1905 creates a flexible funding and system of care grants to support the housing needs of youth exiting a publicly funded system of care, fulfilling the promise of a previous legislature that established a goal that youth discharged from a state funded system will have safe and stable housing. Also SB 5566 expands eligibility of the Independent Youth Housing Program to formerly dependent youth up to age 25 and youth receiving extended foster care services.(Budget includes $15 million for homeless youth facilities)
  • Supportive Housing - HB 1866 establishes the Apple Health and Homes Program to provide a permanent supportive housing benefit and a community support services benefit to persons who meet eligibility criteria related to income, medical risk factors and barriers to finding stable housing. (funded by $60 million in budget)
  • Rental Assistance and Foreclosure Prevention - The new supplemental operating budget includes · $68.5 million for rental assistance and $4.5 million for foreclosure prevention.

Create a statewide disaster fund account so our state and regions are prepared for our new normal of wildfires, floods and other natural events.

  • The new supplemental budget includes $7.5 million for individual assistance grants to those impacted by extreme weather events and natural disasters. The new supplemental budget also funds the development of a state-level disaster individual assistance program.