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WA Democrats look to put another $115 million toward homeless crisis

Democrats in the Washington State Senate unveiled their supplemental operating budget proposal Monday, setting aside $115 million in 2020 to address homelessness.

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The money for homelessness comes as part of $315 million in one-time revenue that will also see climate change measures and the University of Washington’s new behavioral health hospital get $100 million each.

“This is a realistic, sustainable and responsible budget that will make a difference in people’s daily lives,” said Washington Democratic Sen. Christine Rolfes, chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and chief budget writer.

Budget writers have been working to fine-tune proposals after the latest economic forecast released last week showed the state expecting to bring in more revenue than expected — $606 million through the middle of the current two-year budget cycle that ends in 2021, and $536 million more for the following two years.

Through mid-2021, that puts state revenues at $52.3 billion, with about $4.1 billion in reserves.

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Other investments from the proposed Senate budget include $128 million toward K-12 education spending, $184 million for health care, and $116 million for child care.

Despite the entire proposal including “nearly $1 billion” in new spending, Senate Democrats note that it will not include any new taxes.

“I’m proud this budget makes targeted investments without any new taxes,” Rolfes said. “It’s a budget that reflects the values of our great state by promoting strong families, healthy communities, and an economy that works for everyone across the state.”

While the state is already operating on a previously-approved biennial budget, this supplemental budget proposal is designed “to make mid-course corrections to the two-year budget passed in odd years.”

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