UWPNW Washington Legislative Update COVID19 - April 10, 2020

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic justify a follow up regarding legislation and other activities. 

Governor Inslee Trims 2020 Budget in Anticipation of Economic Hit
The abrupt turn in the world and state economy stemming from efforts to check the spread of COVID-19 has prompted Governor Inslee to shave $235 million from the 2020 Supplemental budget. With more than 180,000 Washington residents filing unemployment claims in the last week of March and many retail operations closed, state budget budget and revenue analysts are anticipating a serious dive in our state’s sales and B&O tax dependent revenues (initial estimates cite a possible $4 billion hit). While the state has a $3 billion reserve, there is concern that more action might need to be taken in the future depending on the length of the pandemic.

Most United Ways Policy Priorities Survive
We summarized the session accomplishments in our last news blast. The big change as a result of the partial budget vetoes is the loss of funding that would have provided rate increases for Early Child Education Assistance Programs and would have smoothed the co-pay “cliff” for Working Connections Child Care clients. 

Local United Ways Step Up to Support Community COVID-19 Needs
United Ways across the state jumped into action and quickly responded to help their communities. At least 15 special funds have been established locally, often in collaborative partnerships with their community foundations. These funds generated millions of dollars in donations within two weeks of being established resulting in grants going to nonprofits and small businesses to benefit working families and individuals suffering from the economic crisis COVID-19 precipitated. 

Washington 211 Handles Statewide COVID-19 Calls
Since taking over the answering of the state’s COVID-19 hotline in early March, the Washington 211 network has fielded roughly 30,000 calls about the pandemic. Washington 211 has brought on over 100 call takers, many of whom are working at home, to handle the call load. To help with basic questions, Washington 211 has instituted an automated chat bot on the 211 website and a texting service (text “coronavirus” to 211211)


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