(Olympia, WA) -- Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced his proposed 2023-2025 budget proposal at a news conference in Olympia Wednesday afternoon. The governor says he is prioritizing investments in housing, homelessness, and behavioral health. His budgets also outline updated plans for climate, salmon recovery, education, public safety, state workforce, and more.

A Focus on Housing

According to a press release from the Governor's Office, Inslee is proposing a bond referendum that will allow legislators to front-load $4 billion of housing construction over the next six years.

The underlying capital budget will fund approximately 2,200 housing units in 2023–25. The $4 billion referendum would add approximately 5,300 units additional units during that time, and 19,000 in the following three biennium.

“Unfortunately, we no longer have the influx of federal funding we are using today to quickly build thousands of new supportive housing units for people experiencing homelessness,” Inslee said. “I don’t want to lose momentum, and I don’t want the problem to get worse because we aren’t moving fast enough.”

The referendum would allow the state to issue bonds outside Washington’s debt limit. It requires approval by legislators and voters.

Washington state’s 2022 Point in Time Count indicates nearly 13,000 people are living unsheltered throughout Washington state, up from 10,506 in 2020. This follows a trend of skyrocketing housing prices and not enough housing supply.

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