State Senate passes $59.3 billion 2021-2023 operating budget, up 12.5% from current budget.

The state Senate yesterday passed its 2021-2023 operating budget and 2021 supplemental budget. The Washington Research Council writes,

Yesterday the Senate passed its operating budget. As passed, the 2021 supplemental to the 2019–21 budget would appropriate $52.704 billion from funds subject to the outlook (NGFO). That’s a reduction of 1.9% from the enacted 2020 supplemental, but an increase of 17.9% over 2017–19.

The 2021–23 biennial budget would appropriate $59.282 billion from the NGFO, an increase of 12.5% over the 2021 supplemental. As I noted earlier this week, the Ways & Means Committee had approved a version of the budget that left just $1 million in unrestricted reserves at the end of 2023–25. Floor amendments yesterday improved that figure to $50 million. The improvement was primarily due to a technical amendment that corrected funding amounts for the expansion of the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP).

Read the blog post for more detail. The Senate also appropriates $6.3 billion in federal aid. This observation from WRC senior analyst Emily Makings caught our eye:

There are some indications that the budget would use federal relief funds for ongoing programs. A major example is child care. Sec. 229(5) notes the “substantial additional funding” the federal government has provided in the pandemic relief bills for child care. It adds that the Legislature intends to “implement these federal purposes” by passing E2SSB 5237. “The legislature finds that the state lacked the fiscal capacity to make these investments and the additional federal funding has provided the opportunity to supplement state funding to expand and accelerate child care access, affordability, and provider support as the state navigates the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.”

More in The Columbian,

The House is expected to pass its version of the operating budget tomorrow.