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Inslee signs $2.2 billion relief package to support schools, businesses, renters, and immigrants

caption: Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday signed a $2.2B COVID relief measure into law.
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Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday signed a $2.2B COVID relief measure into law.
Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

A fresh round of federal aid will soon be flowing to Washington businesses and individuals hit hard by the Covid-19 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:

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