OLYMPIA…Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, is sponsoring a bill that would spend $100 million of the state’s budget stabilization account (‘rainy day fund’) to assist in the response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), which has resulted in six deaths so far in Washington, and more than 9,000 deaths worldwide.
Gov. Inslee declared a state of emergency on Feb. 29 in all of Washington’s counties due to the threats against life and property from the coronavirus. Senate Bill 6696 would authorize the $100-million transfer to the disaster response account, solely for response and recovery efforts related to the declared emergency. The amount of the transfer was determined based on testimony by the Department of Health in Monday’s Senate Ways & Means Committee hearing.
The Office of Financial Management may use these funds for costs incurred by state agencies and local governments in the course of their coronavirus response. The money may not be used to supplant existing federal, state or local funds. Agencies must show that they have used the maximum amount available in federal funds before seeking funding from this appropriation.
OFM would also be required to provide monthly updates on the spending of these dedicated response funds.
“It is absolutely clear that we need to provide emergency funding to help state agencies and local governments respond to the declared state of emergency,” said O’Ban. “A public health crisis is exactly the kind of event that justifies dipping into the ‘rainy day fund.’ We want to act quickly to make sure response and recovery efforts aren’t delayed by a lack of funding.”
Sen. O’Ban will be available for comment at the joint Republican media availability today at noon in the Senate Republican Caucus Room (LEG 313) on the Capitol Campus in Olympia.