UWPNW Washington Legislative Update - March 23, 2021

This is budget week in Olympia as the Senate and House prepare to roll out its operating, capital and transportation budgets which will govern state spending for the next two years.

Economic and Revenue Forecast Council Releases Upbeat Projection
Last week, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released its revenue forecast for the next state budget cycle (July 1, 2021 - June 30, 2023) showing that despite slower than expected employment growth, Washington state revenues for the next two year budget period is projected to come in almost $2 billion higher than was expected in the previous forecast four months ago. Total revenues are expected to be $56.6 billion for the 2021-23 biennium. These projections do not include the additional dollars due to come into the state as a result of the recent federal economic stimulus bill.

House and Senate Scheduled to Release Budgets - Standby on Friday
House and Senate budget committees are expected this week to release proposals that will guide spending for transportation, capital construction and general operating for the next two-year cycle. But turnaround will be tight for public testimony. For instance, the operating budgets are not expected to be released until later this week. The Senate Ways and Means Committee will review the Senate proposal (a new striking amendment to SB 5092) and take public testimony Friday, starting at 1 p.m. while the House Committee on Appropriations will review its budget proposal (a new striking amendment to HB 1094) and take testimony on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. We will try to send an alert out as soon as we identify budget issues that are important to United Ways of the Pacific Northwest - Washington priorities.

More Progress Toward Helping Keep People in Their Homes
On the same day (last Thursday) that Governor Jay Inslee extended the eviction moratorium through June 30 2021, the House Committee on Appropriations approved HB 1277 which creates the Eviction Prevention Rental Assistance Program in the state’s Department of Commerce and the Senate Committee on Housing and Local Government passed HB 1236 which establishes a just-cause eviction requirement for residential tenants. These bills are now in the House and Senate Rules committees respectively.

House Approves Bill Enacting National Suicide Line
Last week, the full House approved HB 1477, which would handle Washington's obligation to the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, creating a new national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline (988) number. The legislation creates a 988 Implementation Team that will provide guidance in creating the 988-crisis hotline and will report to the Governor and the Legislature by January 1, 2022.   


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