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Washington legislators approve $59 billion budget, adjourn 105-day session

The operating budget plan keeps state programs running and opens up billions in federal COVID-19 assistance.
Credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Inslee outlined a plan to set up vaccination sites statewide with help from the National Guard and others as part of an overall goal to vaccinate 45,000 people a day against the coronavirus.

SEATTLE — Washington state lawmakers approved a spending plan that will keep Washington's most important programs running for the next two years as they adjourned the 105-day session on Sunday.

On Saturday, House and Senate Democrats presented a $59 billion budget that funds schools, health care, housing programs and rental assistance, among many other areas.

Legislators approved the operating budget Sunday night, the end of Washington's Legislative session. It now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee.

"This budget is a critical part of our state's recovery from the sacrifices of people who have been doing the hard work over the last year," said Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-SeaTac), in a briefing with reporters Saturday.

The operational budget bill, SB 5092, opens up billions in federal money including $1.7 billion for school reopening plans and addressing learning loss, $1.1 billion for vaccine deployment, contact tracing and testing efforts, $658 million to expand rental assistance and $528 million for childcare grants.

Gregerson said a large focus this session in the time of COVID-19 was exclusivity and diversity.

"You also see us making huge investments to things related to poverty. And we know communities of color, low-income communities and rural Washington also, really need access to these services," Gregerson said.

A bill on a capital gains tax on Washington's top investment earners was approved by the Legislature Sunday afternoon. It will generate a $415 million gain for Washington, much of it for early education programs.

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