Everybody loves unwrapping presents – sometimes just to see what’s inside. Some might even say a state budget proposal is a lot like a mystery box begging to be opened. Just in time for the holiday’s the Governor released his proposal for the 2020 legislative session.

There are some things to cheer about for counties in the Governor’s supplemental budget proposal. Unfortunately, there’s also a couple of items we will probably want to return if we can find the receipt.

Overall, there aren’t many changes in spending on water, land use, natural resources or environmental issues. That’s good when considering that important investments for implementing many of the climate change measures passed in 2019 will continue at their previously appropriated levels.

What’s not good are the major cuts county solid waste program funding has endured over the last several years and the lack of any increases for those programs in this budget proposal. Funding wasn’t restored last year even though the legislature significantly increased revenue for those programs by well over $100 million with the passage of ESSB 5993, the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) Reform Bill.

Related, and definitely on our return list from this supplemental budget proposal are $4.32 million for line items that are shifted to MTCA funding from the state general fund. Unfortunately, this exact practice has become normal procedure in recent years (shifting programs from being supported by the general fund to MTCA) and it has undermined the financial solvency of the MTCA program. Meanwhile, local funding for solid waste programs, also supported by MTCA, has been cut over 62%.

A few items worth keeping include $4 million for homeless encampment cleanups – $1.5 of which is made available for local government grants. An additional $1.406 million is appropriated for developing rules to govern the evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions from projects determined to have a significant environmental impact. You may have noticed Governor’s Directive 19-18 on this topic that was issued on December 19th.

Finally, we’ll happily unwrap the $1.3 million increase for Buildable Lands reporting obligations to make up a funding shortfall and assist the seven counties required to meet those planning requirements.

Learn more about how the Governor’s budget proposal will affect counties here.