The state budget for Washington, which covers a two-year period, is $69.2 billion.

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A new two-year state budget backed by Democratic leaders in Washington's legislature was announced on Saturday afternoon, with increased money for worker wages, climate programs, and special education.

The state operating budget, at $69.2 billion, was released less than 36 hours before the conclusion of the 105-day legislative session, leaving little time for the public and legislators to review the spending plan before it is voted into law on Sunday.

K-12 schools, jails, the state mental health system, social services, parks, wildfire response, and environmental programs are all funded in various ways thanks to the operating budget arrangement reached between House and Senate Democrats in the majority.

According to a statement by House Democrats, it adds around $4.7 billion in additional expenditures, leaves a total of $3 billion in reserve funds, and does not contain any significant increases in taxes.

Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), speaking at the budget's unveiling on Saturday afternoon, said that the final deal provides the largest increase in funding for K–12 schools since the decade-long investments made by the Legislature to satisfy the state Supreme Court's landmark order to fund basic education in the McCleary decision.

She also noted that more funding had been allocated for special education as well as for school counselors and nurses to assist students throughout the state.

Sen. Lynda Wilson (R-Vancouver) said she supported the increase in special education funding and part of the climate change expenditure but would have liked to see tax relief included.

Wilson, the top Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said, "One of the priorities for our caucus was special education, and there is historic funding for that in this budget."

Democrats in charge of the House and Senate have prioritized raising wages to compete in a job market marked by increasing costs and disruption due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Many state and local government organizations are suffering from staffing shortages, including those in the nursing, police, social service, and other labor sectors.

Democratic budget authors claim that the new budget would approve and pay for $2.2 billion in wage hikes for state workers and school staff. In addition, the budget proposal raises the rates at which the government reimburses private care providers, such as skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities, for providing services.

The Amend program, now implemented in a subset of Washington's 12 jails, will get an extra $4.6 million each year to cover costs and expand. Amend's goal is to make prisons better places for everyone involved, from inmates to guards to the communities beyond the prison walls.

By Sunday night, legislators should have approved not just the state operating budget for the next two years but also new budgets for funding transportation and capital building.

Rep. Mike Steele (R-Chelan) said in a statement that the new capital budget allocates $400 million for affordable housing projects in the state of Washington. Steele, the Republican who holds the second-highest position on the House Capital Budget Committee, hailed the deal as evidence that "bipartisanship does exist in Olympia."

"This plan reflects key priorities that don't just serve minority interests but all of Washington State," Steele said in prepared comments. In the words of the budget's proponents, "This budget supports development, encourages economic vitality, and puts people to work, even in the smallest of communities."

While the capital budget increase for housing is substantial, more far-reaching plans to build low-cost homes were formally killed off by the budget pact reached on Saturday. The new agreement does not include an increase in the real estate excise tax, popularly known as the home sales tax, which would have bolstered funds for affordable housing initiatives and was proposed by Gov. Jay Inslee but delayed in recent weeks.

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