Governor Jay Inslee’s 2024 supplemental budget proposal for Washington State intends to enhance public safety, focusing on tackling challenges posed by homelessness, the fentanyl crisis, and behavioral health issues. The focus is dedicated to improving public safety and community well-being.
The budget also addresses strengthening law enforcement and public safety measures. This includes funding to fill 80 trooper positions in the Washington State Patrol and adding a third trooper class. Additionally, Inslee proposes funding for two new forensic scientists to process rapid DNA samples and supports the newly formed organized retail crime unit in the Attorney General’s Office.
To aid local law enforcement, the budget proposes $2.7 million for grants to multijurisdictional drug task forces and $10 million for local government grants to bolster law enforcement recruitment and retention.
Inslee has earmarked $100 million from the capital budget for the Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition fund (RCHA). This initiative, launched in 2021, has been instrumental in moving over 1,000 people out of encampments, particularly along state freeways, into shelter and housing units. The additional funding aims to support the creation of more than 1,200 housing units, addressing the urgent need for safe and stable housing solutions.
The budget also proposes an additional $64 million to augment the existing $200 million allocated for fentanyl and opioid response. This funding is purposed to support a range of prevention and treatment strategies, with a focus on youth education, prevention, and assistance for tribal communities, which are experiencing fatality rates four times the state average.
Key initiatives include:
- Establishing four new health engagement hubs by 2027, offering comprehensive social and medical services for substance abuse.
- Expanding treatment options in jails and correctional facilities.
- Distributing naloxone for opioid overdoses to first responders and setting up 20 “Smart Health Machines” across the state for public access to naloxone and other health supplies.
- Allocating $2.7 million to multijurisdictional task forces targeting drug distribution.
The budget includes significant investments in behavioral health care, with the opening of more than 120 beds at state facilities and plans for hundreds more. Inslee’s proposal includes funding for 110 new beds at state-run facilities, notably at the Olympic Heritage Behavioral Health facility in Tukwila, which adds 72 beds for forensic services.
Additional measures include:
- Increasing reimbursement rates for community-based providers.
- Extending a diversion program launched in 2018 to serve people who would otherwise be in jail.
- Continuing support for the 988 Crisis Lifeline, with $21.2 million allocated to enhance its infrastructure and services.