Constantine proposes $600 million King County COVID-19 supplemental budget

Plan includes $337 million from American Rescue Plan Act

King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed a $600 million COVID-19 supplemental budget to the County Council that includes $337 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, as well as $247 million in state and FEMA funds, and $16 million from the county’s general fund.

President Joe Biden on March 11 signed the American Rescue Plan Act. Of the $1.9 trillion package, King County is expected to receive $437 million in flexible funds, to be spent by 2024.

The balance of Rescue Act funds are expected to be included in subsequent supplemental budgets later this year.

Constantine’s spending proposal includes three key priorities: continuing and expanding the public health response (approximately 42%), community supports (33%) and jobs and economic recovery (22%). The balance is administration and other costs.

“My emergency budget continues our work saving lives, and reflects my priorities to create a strong and racially-just community as we transition from response, to recovery, to rebound,” Constantine said in a March 24 news release. “By focusing on public health, community supports, and jobs and economic recovery, we will transform this crisis into an opportunity, and leverage this unprecedented investment to make a permanent and positive difference for all the people of King County.”

Highlights of the proposal include:

Public health response/vaccinations & COVID-19 operations: $253 million

• $116 million for stepped-up vaccination program, including additional mass vaccination sites in addition to the existing sites in Kent and Auburn, more pop up sites, and scheduling software.

• $82 million for contact tracing, mobile health units and other public health work.

• $32 million to continue isolation and quarantine facilities, related mitigation, and provide hotel rooms for people who previously stayed at homeless shelters

• $10.7 million for ongoing judicial system operations.

• $5 million for Office of Equity and Social Justice to provide grants to community-based organizations and ethnic media.

Community supports-rental assistance, childcare, behavioral health: $199 million

• $100 million for rental assistance through a state Department of Commerce grant.

• $62.5 million emergency homeless response and related behavioral health services. Programs will include outreach, health and treatment services, housing or enhanced shelter, and economic and housing supports. These programs will bring inside and provide safe and healthy settings for at least 500 people living outside or in vehicles in downtown Seattle and the urban unincorporated areas of the county.

• $18 million for additional behavioral health services, includes services at supportive housing sites, and mental health and treatment services targeted for youth and rural residents.

• $6 million for childcare services, including continuing funding for essential worker child care vouchers and an emergency grant program for child care providers.

• $6 million for food security, including funding a food-hub and supporting community-based organizations to purchase culturally-appropriate foods from local markets and farms and distribute it to residents.

Economic recovery: $92 million

• $25.6 million for BIPOC business and economic resiliency fund, a concept that came out of the county’s Racism as Public Health Crisis effort. These funds will be allocated through a community-led process and will invest in economic opportunities for residents who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

• $20 million to support organizations in the creative economy which was hit hardest by COVID-related restrictions, these funds will help community arts, cultural, and science institutions resume operations and keep people in their jobs.

• $10.4 million to fund new construction apprenticeship and job training programs that support cities, school districts, and colleges in creating local hire programs in under-served areas throughout King County.

• $4 million to provide start up funding for statewide behavioral health apprenticeship program to help tackle chronic workforce issues.

• $9 million to continue small business grants in unincorporated King County and reducing backlog of permits in Department of Local Services in unincorporated King County.

• $10.8 million for 4Culture’s arts recovery fund, restoring jobs in King County’s film industry, and an event and festival restart fund.

• $1 million to create economic pathways for youth and young adults involved in gun violence.

King County jobs program: $40 million

A new program that creates over 300 new temporary jobs and recruits people to fill them from county shelter or emergency and supported housing programs. Jobs include short-term temporary positions in King County Parks, Noxious Weed Program, Facilities Management Division, Roads Division, and county partners. Expands the existing Conservation Corps clean-up crews dispatched to White Center, Fall City and Skyway.