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WA State: Budget calls for $500M more for SPED; $400M for "behavioral health"

Mar 24, 2023, Centralia (WA) Chronicle: State Senate Democrats Release $69B Budget Proposal With Focus on Education, Behavioral Health,316119

Senate Democrats proposed a $69.2 billion two-year budget that would make significant investments in the state's behavioral health system, programs to reverse learning loss in public schools, climate change initiatives and housing shortages.

The state House of Representatives will release its proposed budget on Monday, and the two chambers will have to consolidate their proposals into one by the end of the legislative session on April 23.

Public schools would receive the largest slice of the budget: $30.7 billion. That's 10.5% more than the last budget….

The budget proposal would make new investments of $2.9 billion into the state's K-12 schools to address learning loss and account for higher costs due to inflation. It also invests almost $500 million to increase funding for special education programs….

Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, praised the budget for its focus on addressing learning loss and increasing funding for special education….

One priority for legislators this session was filling the state's growing gap in the behavioral health system and addressing the 2021 state Supreme Court decision that determined said Washington's drug possession law was unconstitutional.

The Senate budget proposal would invest more than $400 million in behavioral health, including increasing rates for providers, building new facilities and creating new programs for people with developmental disabilities or chronic mental illness. …


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