Gov. Jay Inslee recently released his 2020 supplemental budget proposal, which includes actions to address homelessness; combat climate change; add early learning opportunities; and strengthen efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Key strategies and areas of focus are outlined below:
Washington experiences the fifth highest per-capita rate of unsheltered homelessness in the nation, with roughly 10,000 people living outside or in places unfit for human habitation on any given night.
The governor proposes dramatically ramping up state and local efforts to combat chronic homelessness. His plan includes adding 2,100 local shelter beds across the state, while giving rental and other housing assistance to more than 3,000 additional homeless individuals.
Additionally, the plan outlines a new sheltering grant program, a pilot program to house homeless youth, constructing new shelters and enhancing current shelters, streamlining resource referrals, developing stabilized housing solutions to address some of the chronic or persistent conditions that require supportive services, and providing grants to clean up vacated homeless sites.
Efforts to reduce the state’s carbon footprint were detailed through various strategies in the budget proposal. The governor’s supplemental budget included efforts to limit statewide greenhouse gas emissions, establish clean fuel standards, increase the availability of zero-emission vehicles, establish an emissions standard for ride-share fleets, install electric vehicle changing stations at state facilities, and extend a tax incentive for community solar projects that benefit low-income customers.
“I am proud of the climate change progress we made in 2019,” Inslee said. “But the latest science says we have further to go before we bring emissions into a range that doesn’t threaten our economic future. Washingtonians deserve a choice for cleaner fuels and cleaner cars — and they’re going to get both.”
This proposal was designed to ensure Washington reaches net zero emissions by 2050.
Studies have shown that incoming kindergartners who already have literacy, emotional, and social skills have higher rates of success in school, yet access to early learning is often limited. Expanding early learning opportunities and increasing inclusivity is therefore an area of focus within the governor’s proposed budget.
The 2020 plan includes efforts to screen young children who enter foster care for early intervention and reserve more sports for children in foster care in the state’s preschool program. These efforts would help to bridge access gaps and increase support services to those in need.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion:
The supplemental budget proposes funding to break down systemic barriers with regard to equal opportunity. Funding will be distributed on several projects, including the creation of a statewide equity office; the production and implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion training for state employees and educators; and efforts to increase the pool of minority-owned businesses qualified for public contracting through improvements to state contracting practices.
Other budget items:
- Strengthen the state’s foster care system and offer families earlier screenings for developmental delays in children;
- Implement safety initiatives at Western State Hospital and add approximately 70 direct-care staff at both psychiatric facilities;
- Expand career-connected learning efforts and deliver more training for mid-career workers; and
- Help communities reduce gun violence with a proposal to limit high-capacity magazines and ban assault weapons.
For more information on the proposed 2020 budget, visit this website.