Under somber conditions, the Legislature adjourned “sine die” on Day 60, March 13. The increasing COVID-19 crisis dominated the Capitol campus, as expected. When the budget conference committee released the details of the operating budget on Wednesday, budget writers expressed concern for all Washingtonians, noting the ending fund balance was increased over the previous Senate and House budgets in recognition that the budget impacts of COVID-19 will likely exceed the $200 million allocated from the Budget Stabilization Account (otherwise known as the Rainy Day Fund) for the state’s response. Typically Sine Die is a celebratory event. This year, the Capitol campus emptied quickly upon conclusion of legislative business.
Status of Early Learning Bills
The bills listed below are on their way to the Governor’s desk for action. Each represents a great deal of work and compromise—congratulations to those who worked on them and a huge thanks to the legislative champions.
- ESHB 2455 related to eligibility for Working Connections Child Care for teenage mothers pursuing their high school diploma or GED.
- SHB 2456 related to extending the grace period to meet work requirements for families experiencing homelessness from four to twelve months.
- SHB 2556 related to developing community-based pathways for child care provider educational requirements.
- HB 2619 related to increasing child care access in rural communities.
- ESSB 6540 related to Working Connections Child Care 12-month authorization timing.
Supplemental Operating and Capital Budgets Adopted
Probably the most significant charge facing the Legislature was adoption of the supplemental budgets. There are three budgets—operating, capital and transportation.
In reviewing these investments, It is important to recognize the level of uncertainty we face given COVID-19. When presenting the conference report, Senate Ways and Means Chair Christine Rolfes commented about returning in January “or sooner.” Read the summary below of the early learning related items.