Gov. Inslee begins to roll out his 2021-2023 budget, starting with a $365 million equity policy package

The SThe governor is rolling out his budget in stages this week. Monday he presented a $365 million equity package.

Gov. Jay Inslee today announced a historic equity policy package for the upcoming 2021 legislative session, including $365M for equity-related decision packages and budget items. For the first time, the governor directed state agencies to center budgetary decision packages and legislation around equity.

The governor’s policy brief provides more detail.

The Seattle Times reported on the proposal.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday unveiled a slate of proposals intended to boost diversity and equity, which includes a proposed independent office for investigating deadly force by law enforcement, funding the state’s new equity office and establishing Juneteenth as a legal holiday.

The plan, among other things, would also spend $10 million to maintain the state’s COVID-19 relief fund for undocumented immigrants who have suffered due to the pandemic.

The Spokesman-Review also reported on the plan.

“We have a moral mandate in Washington state to acknowledge these hard truths and lay a solid foundation needed to correct these longstanding injustices,” Inslee said Monday.

The May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police sparked nationwide protests and discussions on addressing systemic racism. In Washington, the March 3 death of Manuel Ellis in Tacoma during an arrest by police led to similar anger statewide.

These proposals are a response to those calls for action, according to Inslee’s policy brief.

The Washington Research Council

In terms of funds subject to the outlook, the proposal includes:

  • $79 million for residential broadband.
  • $10 million for the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund. The fund was created in August with $40 million from the state’s share of the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF, part of the CARES Act). (According to the governor’s proposal, the Immigrant Relief Fund has received $62.6 million in CARES Act funds.)
  • $77,000 for the Employment Security Department and the Department of Social and Health Services to study “how to replicate the state’s unemployment insurance program and expand other safety net programs to individuals—regardless of their citizenship status.”
  • $42.7 million from the workforce education investment account for higher education equity efforts and grants.
  • $26 million to establish the Office of Independent Investigations within the executive branch, “to conduct investigations of police use of excessive force.” (The $26 million includes funding for prosecutions.)
  • $2.5 million to fund the Equity Office established by the Legislature earlier this year. (Gov. Inslee previously allocated $401,000 for the Equity Office from the state’s share of the CRF.)
  • $5.6 million to make Juneteenth a state holiday.
  • Support for SB 5010, which would ban the use of credit scores in determining rates for auto, homeowner, renter, and boat insurance.

Capital budget proposals include:

  • $400,000 in capital bonds “for the Department of Commerce to develop targeted equity strategies that are informed by community engagement, outreach and research.”
  • $400,000 in capital bonds “for the Recreation and Conservation Office to lead a public stakeholder process for reviewing a subset of the state grant programs it administers.”
  • $13.8 million for the Africatown Land Trust to buy a site in Seattle to use for affordable housing.

The governor’s full budget plan will be released by the end of the week.