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Inslee proposes $4 billion towards housing, fighting homelessness in budget proposal

Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled his budget proposal and outlined his plans to address climate change, salmon recovery, education and more in the next legislative session.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee’s $70 billion 2023-25 budget proposal includes $4 billion towards affordable housing over the next six years as he calls for legislators to prioritize housing, homelessness and mental health.

Inslee also outlined his plans to address climate change, salmon recovery, education and more in the next legislative session.


Inslee’s housing referendum would allow the state to issue bonds outside the state’s debt limit to frontload $4 billion of housing construction over the next six years. The state’s underlying capital budget will fund approximately 2,200 units between 2023 and 2025, according to the governor’s office. Inslee’s referendum would add approximately 5,300 additional units between 2023 and 2025 and 19,000 in the remainder of the six years. The referendum would require approval from legislators and voters.

"Washingtonians will not accept this continuous scourge of homelessness in our society," Gov. Inslee said. "They do not believe the state of Washington, the beautiful Evergreen state, is a place for chronic, rampant homelessness and they are asking us to take bold action to do something about it, and in my budget, we intend to do just that 

Inslee proposed using the referendum to fund several housing gaps including emergency housing for people experiencing homelessness, housing for people with special needs, additional capacity for behavioral health needs, affordable housing for lower- and middle-income workers and down payment assistance for low-income first-time homebuyers.

Behavioral health

Inslee’s budget proposal also included investments in behavioral health services. The investments include continued funding for planned facilities, strengthening specialized community services and substance use treatment, intensive services for youth and more training and compensation for behavioral health workers.

Climate change

Inslee also addressed the state’s transition to cleaner energy to combat climate change and laid out his legislative agenda for 2023. Inslee called on the legislature to fund the creation of a Climate Corps service program, establish a new research institute for Northwest Energy Futures at Washington State University’s Tri-Cities campus, set stricter standards for air pollution to improve air quality and more.

The governor also called for funding salmon recovery including riparian habitat restoration, correcting fish passage barriers, reducing stormwater toxins, harvest, aligning hatcheries and hydropower with salmon recovery and investing in outreach and education.


According to the governor’s office, Inslee’s proposal includes $313 million for schools to hire social workers, counselors and other intensive support for students, with additional funding proposed to provide students with access to outdoor learning experiences. The governor proposed more than $120 million for special education services and support.

The governor also wants to increase the state’s share of higher education funding at two-year and four-year colleges to at least 66% for four-year schools.

Prioritizing healthcare workforce training, the governor wants to expand community and technical college space for nursing students by 400 over the next four years, doubling the current capacity at Eastern Washington University’s nursing program. The funding would also establish a public health degree program at WSU’s Pullman, Spokane and Vancouver campuses.

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