Inslee’s 2022 budget highlights poverty, climate, salmon recovery and transportation investments

Gov. Jay Inslee’s 2022 supplemental budget proposes significant funding to reduce poverty, increase housing and resources for homeless individuals, expand K-12 learning supports, invest in clean transportation and green economy, decarbonize buildings, and protect salmon habitat.

The governor released his budget in Olympia on Thursday and was joined by David Schumacher, director of the state Office of Financial Management. The full budget presentation followed three events earlier in the week, with new salmon investments, climate strategy investments and homelessness funding.

“Some would say a supplemental budget year ought to make for a quiet few months in Olympia, but no one has that luxury with the number of urgent concerns facing our state. We must act now on issues that the pandemic highlighted and further compounded,” Inslee said. “It may be a short session, but we have a long list of things to accomplish together.”

Gov. Jay Inslee releases his 2022 supplemental budget in Olympia, Thursday, December 16, 2021. (Office of the Governor)

The governor’s budget puts $600 million back into the “Rainy Day” fund, in addition to the $574 million required for the current two-year budget.

Over the next four years, the state’s reserves will return to pre-pandemic levels. The state’s total reserves are projected to be more than $2.5 billion at the end of the current biennium and $2.8 billion at the end of the next biennium.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed unmet needs and funding gaps in a range of areas, including gaps in efforts to combat homelessness and poverty across the state. When legislators approved the biennial budget last spring, there were critical needs the state simply could not afford to put more funding toward — such as salmon recovery, climate action and transportation. With the state in much stronger fiscal shape than it was early last year, the governor proposes significant new spending in these and other areas.

Reduce poverty statewide

Despite Washington ranking in the top five states for best economy, an estimated 1.7 million Washingtonians still do not have enough resources or income to maintain consistent housing, access healthy food, pay utility bills or meet other basic needs — and that was before the pandemics further compounded some of these issues.

Inslee announced a suite of budget and policy proposals today to develop and implement recommendations on poverty reduction, close gaps in benefit programs and help prevent people from falling off programs — the so-called ‘cliff effect’ — as they work to gain economic stability. These poverty reduction proposals equal $248 million in state and federal funds.

The governor also signed an executive order that requires the Department of Social and Health Services to chair a poverty reduction subcabinet. This group will pinpoint system failures in addressing poverty, recommend budget and policy proposals, and implement economic initiatives. These actions will create more employment opportunities, promote economic stability to help people build assets and wealth, increase education opportunities, invest in solutions that improve health and well-being, and support the social capital of people and the communities where they live.

“We must do better to help fellow Washingtonians struggling to make ends meet and who have been unfairly impacted by the root causes of poverty,” Inslee said. “These are our neighbors, our families, our communities. When we’re strong individually, we’re stronger as a group.”

The Poverty Reduction Work Group (based on an initiative Inslee launched in 2017) made 60 recommendations and developed eight strategies to create a new way forward on poverty reduction. Co-chaired by three state agencies and made up of legislators, 10 state agencies and community organizations, the group spent the past few years researching the root causes behind poverty. The following proposals pulls from the group’s recommendations and will help the nearly 1.7 million Washingtonians who struggle to make ends meet.

Some highlights of Inslee’s proposal to reduce poverty include:

  • Increase benefits and close access gaps to certain public assistance programs.
  • Keep cost-of-care resources in Washingtonians’ pockets.
  • Improve educational availability for children.
  • Strengthen health supports across all ages.
  • Increase food security access.
  • Support individuals exiting state systems.
  • Support nonprofits as they navigate state processes.
  • Build on the voices of those with lived experience and use an enterprise-wide approach to reduce poverty.

Transportation

The governor’s 2022 transportation budget uses both one-time and new federal funds, along with other funds to provide nearly $1 billion of resources to the transportation budget. It funds clean transportation to continue reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector; and strategic investments to improve ferry service reliability.

Inslee’s 2022 transportation budget also supports increased diversity and inclusion in the transportation sector, and delivers on the state’s commitment to the advancement of the high-speed ground transportation for the Cascadia region. The investment positions Washington to leverage federal investment in high-speed rail to diversify the state’s transportation system and help deliver on climate priorities.

In addition to putting $324 million toward ferry electrification, which the system needs to both replace our aging ferry fleet and help fight climate change, the governor is investing just over $40 million to attract and retain employees to work for our ferry system.

Combat homelessness

Inslee released proposals to address homelessness in his 2022 budget and policy package on Wednesday. The governor is proposing an $800 million investment to find solutions for individuals living without shelter and help those at risk of becoming homeless.

“A variety of factors drive our state’s homelessness crisis, including lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, behavioral health needs and lack of services, domestic violence and accessible options for people with disabilities,” Inslee said. “We are proposing a statewide approach that maximizes housing units and getting people into housing solutions.”

Gov. Jay Inslee announces his proposal to increase housing and issues related to homelessness, Wednesday, December 15, 2021. (Office of the Governor)

Proposed investments in housing and work to address homelessness include:

  • Pursue new avenues to help families and individuals remain in their homes.
  • Secure more facilities to provide tiny homes, enhanced shelters, permanent supportive housing and permanent affordable housing.
  • Expand supportive services for people with behavioral health needs.
  • Transition people encamped on the public right of way to permanent housing solutions.
  • Restore the range of affordable housing types in our cities.

Expand K-12 supports and education

While K-12 schools have been buoyed by federal relief funds, the pandemic caused major disruptions for students and their families. It has also compounded educational opportunity gaps that existed before the pandemic.

When fewer students attend schools, less state money has been allocated to the districts and created challenges. The governor is proposing to reinvest those state funds back into the educational system.

“COVID-19 not only highlighted the glaring gaps in the education systems, but it caused students to struggle in many ways,” Inslee said. “Bolstering social and emotional supports in schools is key to helping our students get caught up, address their mental health needs, and succeed in their academic learning.”

To make sure students and educators have what they need, Inslee proposes about $1 billion to bolster the educational system including:

  • Provide more social/emotional supports by increasing the numbers of school nurses, social workers, counselors and psychologists, and minimizing learning loss that took place during the pandemic.
  • Improve student outcomes.
  • Help kids falling through educational opportunity gaps, specifically the gaps compounded by COVID-19.
  • Provide students with outdoor experiences and climate science curriculum.
  • Implementing accelerated learning strategies such as before- and after-school tutoring, extracurricular activities and mental health supports.
  • Increase food security for students.
  • Build a diverse educator workforce.
  • Increase postsecondary enrollment and success while meeting the workforce’s demands.
  • Help homeless college students and offer education support to Afghan refugees.

Support foster youth

Inslee proposes $82 million to expand the services and resources for foster youth. Diminished access to behavioral rehabilitation services has limited existing placement options for foster youth. Inslee proposes to bolster these services and offer foster youth who are hardest to place more options to get the services they need. Funding would also help finish the construction of a new behavioral rehabilitation services facility for this demographic. The budget will also:

  • Implement updated practice standards to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act.
  • Fund placement options for ‘high-needs’ foster youth’ and ‘hard-to-place’ foster youth.
  • Provide a monthly stipend to young adults exiting extended foster care.

“Our state’s youth need help more than ever due to the mental health impacts of the pandemic, Inslee said. “And our foster youth, in particular, deserve more from the state. These investments will help us identify service barriers and figure out how we can best provide economic stability to these young adults as they transition out of the foster care system.”

Bolster the clean transportation sector and fight climate change

In the ongoing plan to fight climate change, new governor-proposed legislation would decarbonize commercial buildings and homes, successfully implement the Climate Commitment Act, invest more in clean transportation through transit and electric vehicle incentives, and build the clean energy future here in Washington.

Inlsee’s budgets invest in clean transportation programs — including a $100 million a year rebate program for electric vehicle purchases — and $100 million a year for solar energy grants to utilities, tribes, local governments and school districts. The budget also provides support for energy-intensive trade exposed industries such as steel mills, pulp and paper mills and food processors to reduce their emissions. And it would enhance efforts to site clean energy production and manufacturing while also fully funding the implementation of the Climate Commitment Act, which was enacted in the last legislative session.

The clean transportation investments also include new funding to expand electrifying the state’s ferry fleet and help the ferry system recruit and retain crew members. Addressing crew shortages and improving efficiencies will make our vital marine highway system more reliable.

“I have always stressed the importance of a transportation revenue package that fully funds these items,” Inslee said. “But, I cannot do this alone. A bipartisan approach is key to getting a package accomplished. I will continue to push for legislation that prioritizes these areas nd push for a transportation revenue package that fully funds culverts for fish passage barrier corrections, among other things.”

His budget includes $626.5 million to fund climate change initiatives and $12 billion for transportation:

  • Decarbonize the building sector.
  • Successfully implement the Climate Commitment Act.
  • Invest more in clean transportation.
  • Build the clean energy future here in Washington and transitions workers for the green economy.
  • Make other climate investments (such as reduce food waste, create sustainable farms and fields).
  • Invest in Washington’s vital ferry system.
  • Advance ultra-high-speed ground transportation.
  • Increase diversity, equity and inclusion in transportation.
  • Support clean transportation (includes climate agenda items) and keep other major projects moving forward.

Protect salmon and restore habitat

Drawing on decades of work by numerous experts, salmon recovery organizations, stakeholders and tribes, the governor recently released an update to the state’s salmon recovery strategy. It calls for aggressive action in various areas, such as protecting and restoring riparian habitat, correcting fish passage barriers and investing in clean water infrastructure.

Using the new strategy as a template, the governor proposes a comprehensive suite of policy changes and budget investments totaling nearly $187 million to help restore salmon populations across the state and to meet our tribal obligations.

  • Protect and restore vital salmon habitat.
  • Invest in clean water infrastructure for salmon and people.
  • Correct fish passage barriers and restore salmon access to historical habitat.
  • Build climate resiliency.
  • Align harvest, hatcheries and hydropower with salmon recovery.
  • Address predation and food web issues for salmon.
  • Enhance commitments and coordination across agencies and programs.
  • Strengthen science, monitoring and accountability.

“Healthy salmon populations mean healthy water systems,” Inslee said. “We based our strategy update on the latest science and tailored it to address the stressors in the diverse regions of our state, spelling out the many different actions we must take to protect and restore salmon.”

Gov. Jay Inslee announces his proposal to protect salmon, Tuesday, December 14, 2022 (Office of the Governor)

The 2022 Legislative Session is set to begin mid-January and is scheduled to run for 60 days.

Resources:

--

--

--

News and updates from Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee and his administration.

Recommended from Medium

Good News: Salon Owners Step Up to Help During COVID-19 Crisis

Martin Luther King’s Letter To President Donald Trump

A letter from Senator Collins’ former supporters

These are the consequences of not electing Hillary Clinton

How the Reade Vs. Ford Double Standard Can Make Us Better

Hello World, I’m Retool, and I love Retooling!

America’s For-Profit Healthcare System Perfectly Designed to Help Coronavirus Spread

On the Inescapability of Capital

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Governor Jay Inslee

Governor Jay Inslee

Governor of Washington state. Writing about innovation, jobs, education, clean energy & my grandkids. Building a WA that works for everyone.

More from Medium

Michael E. Mann on climate change: “It’s not too late for us to act.”

Michael E Mann at the Tyler Prize Award, May 2019. (photo: Brandon Vaccaro)

Diaries of a Climate Nomad — Texas

An Actual Gaian Interpretation of the World

Why should we need to start caring about climate change?