The 2024 legislative session concluded last week with advancements made on the priorities of United Ways of Washington

Washington’s legislature adjourned on time last week, having pretty much lived up to the expectation of a fiscally tight 60-day off-year session. Given the circumstances, priorities established by United Ways of Washington for this year made some progress.

Imagination Library Gets a Bit Closer to Full Funding through State Budget
Going into session, our biggest budget concern was to fill the funding shortfall for the Imagination Library program. The program’s popularity combined with lower than needed state funding from the current budget put the program in a serious financial bind. Fortunately, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, under the leadership of Chris Reykdal, awarded $750,000 in one-time bridge funds to help the program continue meeting the needs of the roughly 111,000 young readers through June 30 of this year. Last week, the Legislature passed a supplemental budget that included another $500,000 to help the program in the next fiscal year. Imagination Library is working on an extensive fundraising and grant writing plan to cover the additional $675,000 needed to keep the program operating fully through next fiscal year (June 30, 2025).

Washington 211 Gets More State Funding
The supplemental budget for this year also allocated an additional million to Washington 211 to get through the next fiscal year. While still underfunded, Washington 211 will go from a $1.5 million allocation this fiscal year to $2.5 million starting July 1.

Affordable Housing Programs Hold Ground and Bump for Housing Trust Fund
Additional funding in the supplemental budget will mean that homelessness programs, such as shelters and rehousing, can maintain their current service levels through the next fiscal year, despite a projected funding gap from document recording fees. The Housing Trust Fund received an additional $127.5 million, bringing the two-year funding for affordable housing to over $527 million.

Easier Rules to Maintain Child Care Benefits
The Legislature approved House Bill 2124, which will make it easier for families actively participating in certain early learning programs like the Birth-To-Three Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program to continue receiving Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) subsidies when they meet other income requirements. The bill also expands WCCC eligibility for child care providers who work in certain early learning programs, which helps providers afford to enroll their own children in high-quality early learning.


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