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News > Advocacy > The Final Countdown

The Final Countdown

Out of the 545 Senate bills and 638 House bills that were introduced, we are left with a small group of bills that have survived the many cutoffs they’ve faced.
1 Mar 2024

We have finally made our way to the last week of a fast and furious legislative session. Out of the 545 Senate bills and 638 House bills that were introduced, we are left with a small group of bills that have survived the many cutoffs they’ve faced. Of those bills, and at the time of writing this, 2SHB 5780 is still making its way through the legislative process. It is sitting in Rules, waiting for a debate and vote before it is sent to the Governor for his signature.

We are also at the point of session at which we have seen both the House and Senate budgets and are waiting for budget writers to emerge from their conference hidey-hole and present the final version of their budgets.

As it stands now, there are a few public safety budget issues that stand out. In both the House and Senate budgets, we appreciate the inclusion of the:

  1. Blake proviso that allows the Administrative Office of the Courts, if requested by a county, to use available Blake funds to administer the vacate process, or a portion of the vacate process, on behalf of a county; and
  2. Expenditure authority for state and federal funding for Medicaid and CHIP juvenile enrollees for 90 days pre-release from confinement.

There were also a few differences in what was included in the House and Senate budgets. Additional funding was provided for additional Corrections Officer Academy (COA) classes in both budgets. While both budgets included one additional class for FY 2024, the Senate only included 2 additional classes for FY 2025, whereas the House included funding for an additional nine COA classes for FY 2025, which would essentially eliminate the backlog the Criminal Justice Training Commission faces. We fully support the House proviso on this issue.

The House proposed a $35 million reduction for Employment and Day programs by clawing back the so-called underspend dedicated to these programs created for individuals with developmental disabilities. We would prefer that the provider rate be increased to the suggested maximum rate, as recommended in the legislatively mandated 2022 DSHS/DDA Employment and Day Program Rate Study (Study), so these funds can be fully expended.

There are other minor differences between the budgets. One is the inclusion of a study to examine jail rates to recover local government costs of housing individuals under the Department of Corrections jurisdiction (House). Another is the immediate funding of a jail medical bed rate adjustment upward (Senate). These are both positive and would be even better if they were both included in the final budget. Finally, the Senate included a necessary modification to dates in last year’s Jail Study and Modernization Task Force Proviso that the Houe did not include. We hope that the final budget will reflect the Senate version.

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