United Ways of Washington Legislative Update 2023 - Week 12

In devising their respective budgets released over the last week, the House and Senate both counted on the revenue from the new capital gains tax that was just affirmed by the Washington Supreme Court. Read on to learn more about these budget proposals from members of our United Way statewide partner coalition as well as our own  Following passage in both houses, the dueling budgets will go to conference committees (operating and capital) to craft final versions for consideration by the full Legislature. But its not too late to comment and links are provided at the end of this message.

SPAN Prefers House Version of 2023-25 Operating Budget
Here’s the argument put forth by the Statewide Poverty Action Network for supporting the House version of the budget. “The Senate budget funds increased access to affordable housing and diaper subsidies for low-income parents, but only funds Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) time limit extensions for child-only cases, budgets for a reduction in the TANF caseload, and fails to fund Medicaid equivalent coverage for uninsured adults regardless of immigration status. Meanwhile, the House budget takes a much more expansive approach. Their proposed budget funds TANF time limit extensions for hardship through 2025, increases the TANF grant amount, funds increased asset limits for TANF, ends the requirement for Aged, Blind, or Disable recipients to repay the state when they transfer onto Supplemental Security Income, makes important administrative fixes to the Working Families Tax Credit.”

Compare Early Childhood Education Budget Spending
Start Early, a nonprofit advocating for early learning programs, has a chart comparing the Governor, Senate and House budgets (the House analysis might not be available until later this week). One program of strong interest to United Ways of Washington is the Imagination Library which was funded in the House budget for $4 million but not included in the Senate budget. 

 Working Families Tax Credit Expansion Possible 
The Washington State Budget and Policy Center is urging support for House Bill 1477 which would allow married individuals who file separate returns to qualify for the credit and would permit applying for up to three years of unclaimed benefits. The Senate Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing on the bill two weeks ago but has not taken action on it yet. For this bill to pass, it needs to be referenced and funded in the final budget.

Significant Housing and Homeless Services Investments Proposed
Both the Senate and the House proposed budgets stepped up funding to better meet our housing crisis. The Senate capital and operating budgets put forward nearly $1 billion in housing investments and services. The proposed House budgets offer over $1.1 billion in total investments. Significantly, the House supports the Governor’s $4 billion housing bond proposal as a Fall voter referendum

Both Budgets Fall Short of Meeting 211 Needs
The Senate budget funds the Washington 211 network for $2 million while the House budget matched the $3 million allotted to 211 this biennium. As previously mentioned, Washington 211 has identified its full funding level at $10.3 million. Because of budget realities, advocates are urging that the House increase its funding by an additional $2 million. This $5 million total allotment ensures that this critical and underfunded service meets our state’s crisis response system needs by helping the network respond to significant call volume growth.

Here’s How To Comment on the Budgets
Your input can make a difference and you can do it easily from your phone or computer. Comment on the House Budget (H.B. 1411) which has just cleared the House Committee on Appropriations. Comment on the Senate Budget (S.B. 5187) which the Senate has just passed. You can get the latest budget proposals and other essential fiscal information on the State of Washington fiscal page.


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