State disperses federal dollars to departments

Sep 17, 2020
Written by Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs

The State of Washington received more than $1 billion from Congress this year in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF).  Last week, the Governor’s budget office allocated $357.8 million to a variety of agencies leaving $752.8 million in the account.

Departments receiving funds were: Commerce, Ecology, Corrections, Attorney General, Social and Health Services, Natural Resources, Health, Revenue, Children, Youth and Families, Health Care Authority, and the Joint Legislative Services Committee.

In turn, some agencies will disperse funds to local governments, mostly through the Department of Commerce. Allocations for counties range from $300,000 to $36.6 million and for cities, anywhere from $30,000 to $10,000,000.

While this is helpful, it will not be enough. Revenue shortfalls for the state are expected to be near $9 billion. Local governments, which depend on sales tax and B and O tax are short on funds.

Will more federal dollars be coming? My guess is not until after the November election. How much more funds and for what is a big question.

After the election there is rumor the Governor may call the Legislature back for a short special session to make some difficult decisions on the state budget. The more the state saves now the less the impact will be when the Legislature adopts a new two-year spending plan during the 2021 Legislative Session that begins in January.