House releases its proposed 2021-23 operating budget

March 29, 2021

The budget process continued Friday with the House releasing its proposed 2021-23 operating budget. This comes on the heels of the Senate budget, which was released Thursday. The House developed its budget proposal under a similar fiscal outlook as the Senate – a promising revenue forecast and an expected $7.7 billion in federal money under the American Recovery Plan Act. The House, similar to the Senate, also takes into consideration a new state capital gains tax – a 7% tax on the sale of long-term capital gains.

Read on for the operating budget highlights or see our full detailed budget comparison for the House and Senate. As a reminder, the House released its 2021-23 capital budget on March 24. Those highlights can be found in the March 25 edition of Inside Olympia.

The big budget picture

Just one day after the Senate released its budget proposal, the House released its $58.3 billion “Washington Recovery” budget. The House utilizes state and federal funds to help the state recover from the pandemic by focusing on those who have been impacted the most and prioritizing the needs of black, indigenous and persons of color who have suffered disproportionately.

The next step in the budget process is that lawmakers from both chambers will form a budget committee and begin negotiating a final budget. We anticipate seeing the final 2021-23 operating budget before the last day of the regular session, which is Sunday, April 25.

Budget Highlights

COVID-19 Response and Health Care

  • $1.185 billion for vaccines, contact tracing and testing
  • $100 million for local public health districts and regions
  • $94 million for primary care provider rate increases
  • $35 million for uninsured and underinsured care through rural health centers, federally qualified health centers and free clinics
  • $11 million for school nurses

Difficult to Discharge

  • $415 million for a temporary rate increase to long-term care and providers for individuals with developmental disabilities 

Behavioral Health

  • $96.7 million to fund beds with community-based providers to replace Western State Hospital wards that will be closed
  • $90 million to improve the state’s suicide and behavioral health crisis response system through HB 1477, implementing the 988 national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline
  • $69.38 million for substance use disorder treatment and response

The budget also makes other investments in areas such as rental assistance, mortgage assistance, food assistance, early learning and child care, and k-12 and higher education. It also makes investments to address the digital divide: technology assistance and equity.

Read our full budget details document for more information.


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