A two-year biennial operating budget is adopted every odd-numbered year. Supplemental budgets frequently are enacted in each of the following two years after adoption of the biennial budget. Appropriations are made in the biennial and supplemental budgets for the operation of state government and its various agencies and institutions, including higher education, as well as allocations for the funding of K-12 public schools. Occasionally, appropriations are made outside the supplemental and biennial budgets for limited purposes such as funding for a specific policy bill or to address a specific matter.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. The first reported occurrence of COVID-19 in the United States was in January 2020. The federal Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act was enacted on March 6, 2020, and several COVID-19 related federal appropriations acts have occurred since then.
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted on March 27, 2020. The CARES act included the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). The CRF provided approximately $3 billion for Washington state and local government expenses related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Funding received directly by the state was authorized for expenditure through the statutory unanticipated receipt process (the Legislature was not in session when the federal funding was received).
Under the original terms of the CARES Act, to be eligible for CRF, costs had to be incurred by December 30, 2020. The federal Consolidated Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act was signed into law on December 27, 2020. Among other things, the CRRSA extended the CRF deadline from December 30, 2020, to December 31, 2021, and provided additional funding to Washington to help address the impacts of COVID-19.
The bill appropriates $2.2 billion in federal funding from a combination of the federal CRRSA Act, the CRF under the federal CARES Act, and Medicaid for K-12 public schools, public health, healthcare, assistance to individuals and families, housing assistance, and business assistance.
Additional detail can be found at fiscal.wa.gov.
The substitute bill makes a clarification to subgrants to local education agencies and makes a technical correction.
(In support) Public health resources like those in this bill are critically needed. The whole package is appreciated, especially the help for businesses and schools. Assistance to help schools reopen and address learning loss is important. The Legislature should stay firm in requirements related to reopening schools. If funding is not provided, some students will stop receiving services they currently receive. Funding for immigrant assistance is vital to help address important needs like housing, health care, and food during the pandemic. This assistance helps the economy as well. Funding must get out quickly to support individuals, families, schools, business, and the community. Health care clinics and other health care providers appreciate the resources provided as they continue to cope with the ramifications of the COVID-19. It is essential to get funding out for rental and business assistance; equity needs to be considered. Getting help to people struggling because of COVID-19 is vital, and this is a down payment on addressing the severe impacts of the pandemic throughout the state. Essential funding is included for the public health system to help address COVID-19. Additional support for childcare provided in the bill is essential.
(Other) While the federal funding for schools is much appreciated, the formula does not help every district. There are language concerns that hopefully can be considered. There are other critical needs that are not addressed in the bill.