Governor Signs $2.2B COVID Relief Package For Washington Schools, Businesses, Renters, Immigrants

Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that two regions of the state will be moving into Phase 2 on Monday.
File photo. Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday, Feb. 19, signed a $2.2B COVID relief measure into law. CREDIT: TVW

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A fresh round of federal aid will soon be flowing to Washington businesses and individuals hit hard by the COVID pandemic.

On Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a $2.2 billion relief package funded with money approved by Congress in December.

The package includes:

  • $716M for schools to help return to in-person learning and address student learning loss
  • $618M for public health, including vaccine administration
  • $365M for rental assistance
  • $290M for small business and childcare provider grants
  • $70M to replenish the state’s immigrant workers relief fund
  • $26M for food assistance

According to the Office of Financial Management, the business and rental assistance will be available beginning in mid-March.

Also Friday, Inslee signed into law a measure to exempt federal emergency assistance grants from the state’s business and occupation tax. That’s expected to save Washington businesses more than $200 million, according to the state Senate.

A third bill signed into law by Inslee on Friday will free up an additional $400 million for the state’s federal Coronavirus Relief Fund. This is accomplished by shifting the cost of COVID-related Medicaid rate enhancements and incentives away from the relief fund and instead paying for those enhancements and incentives with other sources of state and federal money.

The new $2.2 billion relief package follows the federal CARES Act which sent approximately $3 billion to the state of Washington last year. About $1 billion of that went to local governments while Inslee decided how to spend the other roughly $2 billion. This time around, state lawmakers – not Inslee –decided how to spend the funds because the Legislature was back in session.

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Members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus — co-chairs Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., at podium, and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., right — took credit for helping to break the logjam on an emergency COVID-19 relief bill. CREDIT: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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