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Department of Corrections

Governor's 1997-99 proposal
$844.3 million
$851.9 million
Net change from 1995-97
$83.9 million
$85.4 million
Percent change from 1995-97

T HE STATE'S PRISON POPULATION has doubled over the past eight years, increasing from 6,053 inmates in 1988 to the present population of 12,127. This 100 percent increase far exceeds the 19.3 percent growth in the state's general population over the same period. To keep up with these demands, the Department of Corrections (DOC) requires a growing share of the state budget.

Increases in the state's prison population are primarily attributable to the imposition of more and longer sentences mandated by the Legislature and citizen initiatives for certain offenses and offenders. Since 1988, the Legislature has approved measures calling for longer sentences for drug offenses, property crimes, and sex offenses. In 1994, voters passed Initiative 593, the "Three Strikes and You're Out" law, which requires life sentences for third-time violent offenders. In 1995, voters approved Initiative 159, the "Hard Time for Armed Crime Act," which significantly increases sentences for offenses committed with a firearm. This past session, the Legislature passed the "Two Strikes" law, which mandates life imprisonment upon the second conviction for certain sex offenses. It is this rapid growth in the inmate population that drives the need for $83.9 million in additional funding during the 1997-99 Biennium.

Key Proposals

Governor Lowry is proposing the following initiatives to help offset the increasing cost of corrections in Washington State. Together, they are expected to save $11.1 million during the 1997-99 Biennium.

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Other Human Services

Governor's 1997-99 proposal
$168.0 million
$2,062.6 million
Net change from 1995-97
$21.6 million
$334.5 million
Percent change from 1995-97

T HIS GROUP OF AGENCIES support health and social programs, and includes the departments of Health, Labor and Industries, Veterans Affairs, Employment Security, and the Health Care Authority. The issues addressed by these agencies share important common themes - increasing affordable health coverage, improving health outcomes, helping dislocated workers find employment, and maintaining workplace safety.

During the past four years, Washington State has made significant progress in all of these areas. Now, however, the 1997 Legislature will face important decisions about whether to continue that progress by providing the funds necessary to meet the growing demand for affordable health care through the state's Basic Health Plan and continuing its support for the Employment and Training Trust Fund. It will also face the question of whether to meet the demand for life-sustaining therapy funded by the AIDS Prescription Drug Program and meet the rising cost of childhood immunization. Governor Lowry's 1997-99 budget proposal continues Washington's commitment to meet these challenges.

Health Services Account

In 1993, the Legislature created the Health Services Account (HSA) to increase access to health services for low-income people, provide Medicaid services to children in households earning up to 200 percent of the poverty level, and make other improvements in the public health system. Since then, the number of low-income children receiving subsidized health care has increased by 48 percent and the number of low-income people participating in the Basic Health Plan has grown from 13,440 in June 1993 to the current 130,000. The program has been so successful that by November 1996, the waiting list for enrollment in the Basic Health Plan had grown to over 60,000 individuals. This situation demonstrates the strong demand among Washington citizens for health insurance coverage at an affordable price.

The Governor's Proposal

To meet this growing demand, the Governor is proposing to increase enrollment in the Basic Health Plan to 150,000 people by September 1997 and to 170,000 by September 1998 at a cost of $438.3 million. By June 1999, he would also provide an additional $274.3 million from the HSA to extend Medicaid coverage to all children under 200 percent of poverty (currently $25,960 per year for a family of three). These initiatives - together with other enhancements in children's dental care, the Medically Indigent Safety Net, local public health services, and other programs - will require a total of $834.2 million in expenditures from the HSA in the 1997-99 Biennium.


When the HSA was first created in 1993, revenues were expected to reach more than $1 billion by the end of the 1997-99 Biennium. However, because several tax sources - such as the hospital tax and the Health Maintenance Organization tax - did not generate the amount of revenues expected, available resources are now expected to reach only $606.4 million under current law. Rather than retreat from the original goals of the state's landmark Health Services Act of 1993, the Governor is proposing that additional revenues be raised to support improved access to health care in the 1997-99 Biennium by:

In total, these changes increase revenue for the 1997-99 Biennium by $240.4 million. This, together with the current unexpended balance, anticipated revenues, and interest earnings would fund the Governor's policy initiatives and still leave an estimated reserve of $12.6 million in the account. Through these actions, Washington State continues to make progress toward achieving the goal of providing affordable health care to all people.

Employment and Training Trust Fund

The Legislature established the Employment and Training Trust Fund in 1993 to finance education programs for dislocated and unemployed workers at community and technical colleges, and to increase the capacity of the Employment Security Department to help the unemployed find jobs. Since then, the trust fund has provided training to 20,000 dislocated and unemployed workers. The fund is scheduled to sunset in January 1998, unless the Legislature takes action to continue it. Despite improvements in the state's economy since 1993, many workers, especially those affected by industrial downsizing, still need additional education and training to adapt to a changing economy. For this reason, the Governor is proposing to continue the Employment and Training Trust Fund under its current funding source.

Under the Governor's proposal, an estimated $76.9 million in unemployment insurance payments would be deposited in the Employment and Training Trust Fund in the 1997-99 Biennium to support the following programs:

Department of Health

The Governor is recommending additional funding to address rising costs in two key public health services provided by the Department of Health: the HIV/Aid program and the childhood immunization program.

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Governmental Operations

Governor's 1997-99 proposal
$402.3 million
$2,328.3 million
Net change from 1995-97
$48.2 million
$266.6 million
Percent change from 1995-97

G OVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS includes approximately 50 state agencies, boards, and commissions. Each has a diverse mission and function, ranging from maintenance of public facilities to promotion of international trade. The Office of the Governor is a Governmental Operations agency, as are the Office of the State Treasurer, the Department of General Administration, the State Lottery Commission, and the Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development. Among the most pressing general government issues are the need to make computers year 2000 compliant and the need to provide funding to cover the damages resulting from the severe storms and floods in late 1995 and early 1996.

Year 2000 Conversion

Until very recently, computer systems were designed to an industry standard that provided only two data fields for the year (i.e., "96" rather than "1996"). Twenty years ago, using two data fields instead of four represented a substantial and necessary efficiency for technology that was slow and expensive compared with today's technology. In many cases, systems are still in use today that were never expected to last into the next millennium. These systems have no way of distinguishing the date "2000" from "1900."

Unless maintenance is performed to make computer systems "Year 2000" compliant, a number of critical statewide information systems will begin to fail during the 1997-99 Biennium. Because many of the state's information systems share data, failure of a single agency's system could lead to a statewide disruption of services and operations.

Although existing staff will be used to convert systems to Year 2000 standards to the extent possible, there also will be a need for outsourced or contracted staff. Firms and individuals with the expertise to reprogram older systems are likely to become less available as the year 2000 approaches. A number of tasks, including assessment, maintenance, and testing need to be accomplished within a short time frame. The problem needs to be addressed this year - waiting even one more year would increase the risk of system failure and would also tend to increase costs for contracted labor.

Based on interviews with agencies and a review of their Year 2000 maintenance plans, the Department of Information Services estimates that agencies will have absorbed $22.0 million in Year 2000 costs by the end of the 1997-99 Biennium. The Governor's budget includes $5.0 million General Fund-State (GF-S) and $10.1 million in other funds for Year 2000 conversion work in the 1997-99 Biennium. Costs for the Department of Social and Health Services account for $4.1 million of the GF-S costs and $2.7 million in other funds. Other agencies with major Year 2000 funding include the Department of Employment Security ($2.3 million), Labor and Industries ($1.6 million), and the State Patrol ($1.0 million).

Disaster Relief

Floods and storms occurring in November and December of 1995 and February of 1996 destroyed millions of dollars worth of private and public facilities, and increased the threat of future floods by weakening existing flood prevention structures. Under the Presidential Disaster Declaration requested by the Governor, the state is eligible for 75 percent federal matching funds for qualified expenses related to these disasters. State and local government funds make up the remaining 25 percent.

Three types of assistance are available to states under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Individual Assistance; Public Assistance; and Hazard Mitigation. Individual Assistance grants for the 1995/96 storms will all be paid during the 1995-97 Biennium. Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation costs are expected to be paid over a three-biennia period.

For the 1997-99 Biennium, $11.0 million of GF-S moneys are included in Governor Lowry's budget to cover the state matching share, and $50.6 million of General Fund-Federal (GF-F) moneys are included. Because of the catastrophic costs of the floods and the devastation to local communities, an additional, $5.4 million of GF-S moneys are included to assist local governments with the match necessary to receive federal funds.


Preparing preschool children to enter school "ready to learn" has long been a priority in Washington State. The state-funded Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) and the federally funded Head Start program together will serve more than 20,000 low-income children and families in Fiscal Year 1997. ECEAP is targeted to four-year-olds, while Head Start serves children three to five years of age. Nineteen of the 34 ECEAP contractors also administer a Head Start program. These programs provide a developmentally and age-appropriate curriculum, identify health and nutritional issues that interfere with learning, and help families locate and gain access to needed community resources. They also involve parents in programs that promote family literacy, job skills, and parenting skills.

A legislatively mandated ECEAP Longitudinal Study, now in its ninth year, indicates that ECEAP helps children make significant gains in cognitive, language, and physical development, while also helping them to become more secure, outgoing, and expressive before their entry into kindergarten. Early Head Start studies have shown similar results. It is estimated that each $1 spent on quality preschool for children in poverty can save $7 in special education, crime-related, and public assistance costs.

Governor Lowry's budget proposal assumes that the supplemental budget increase provided for the ECEAP program in 1996 will be fully funded, ensuring that 860 additional ECEAP slots will be available throughout the 1997-99 Biennium. These funds are designed to support the educational, health, and nutritional needs of every low-income preschool-aged child in Washington.

Other Measures

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