Legislators began the 105-day regular session in January facing a $2.45 billion revenue shortfall, which included a state Supreme Court order to fund basic education. An additional $2 billion would have been needed to fund voter approved Initiative 1351 to lower class sizes, however, the initiative was suspended for four years.
Lawmakers approved new operating and capital budgets, which were signed by the governor on June 30, 2015, and a 16-year transportation plan. The Legislature adjourned after 176 days in session on July 10, 2015 during the third special session.
Below is a selection of programs and services approved in the new budgets that may impact Asian Pacific American communities. Visit fiscal.wa.gov for a full view of the budgets.
Early Learning, K-12, and Higher Education
|Program or Service||Enacted Budget|
|Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program||Adds 1,600 spaces for students to attend comprehensive preschool programs.|
|Working Connections Child Care||Eligibility provided for 12 months for child care subsidies to eligible households with parents who are working.|
|McCleary Decision||Additional $1.3 billion to fund basic education, including K-3 class size reductions and expansion of all-day kindergarten.|
|All-day kindergarten||Provides all-day kindergarten for every child in the state by 2016-17 school year.|
|K-3 class size reductions||Reduces K-3 class sizes to 17 students by the 2017-18 school year, starting with high poverty schools.|
|K-12 Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA)||Provides cost of living increases for educators at 3% for 2015-16 school year and 1.8% for 2016-17.|
|Kip Tokuda Memorial Washington Civil Liberties Public Education Program||Provides $250,000 to educate the public regarding the history and the lessons of the World War II exclusion and detention of persons of Japanese ancestry through the development of educational materials.|
|Higher Education||Expands financial aid and cuts tuition by 15% at UW and WSU; 20% at Western, Central, and Eastern Washington universities and The Evergreen State College; and 5% at community & technical colleges.|
Health and Human Services
|Program or Service||Enacted Budget|
|Aged, Blind or Disabled Program||Maintains funding for the Aged, Blind or Disabled cash assistance program.|
|Food Assistance Program||Increased from 75 percent of the federal food benefit level to 100 percent.|
|Housing and Essential Needs||Maintains funding for emergency rent and utility assistance for individuals with temporary disabilities.|
|Limited English Proficient Pathway||Maintains funding for job preparation and English as a Second Language Training to enable refugees and immigrants to secure employment.|
|New Americans Program||Maintains funding to help
legal, permanent residents in the state become naturalized U.S. citizens.
|Home Care Providers||$115 million for home care worker compensation, training, and benefits.|
|In Person Assisters||$6 million in state and federal funds to assist with outreach and enrollment on the Health Benefit Exchange.|
|Mental Health||$100 million for mental health related programs.|
|Temporary Assistance for Needy Families||Additional $31 million to provide a 9 percent grant increase for 61,042 low-income families.|
|Assisted Living Rate Increase||Vendor rate increase of 2.5 percent.|
|Adult Family Homes||Vendor rate increase of 5 percent in 2015 and 10 percent by July 2016.|
|Nursing Home Rates||$7 million reduction; new methodology for calculating nursing facility rates begins July 2016.|
|Initiative 502 implementation (legalization of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over)||
|Housing Trust Fund||$75 million (capacity for nearly 2,000 homes)|