Gov. Inslee signs supplemental budget including money for wildfire, Oso mudslide relief

Government And Institutions Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a supplemental budget Wednesday that allocates nearly $218 million in state and federal money for expenses including the deadly Oso mudslide and last summer's wildfires.

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The supplemental budget is the first bill from the 2015 legislative session the governor has signed. As a regular feature of Washington's two-year budget cycle, it covers unexpected costs such as disasters and costs related to lawsuits.

The Legislature's chief budget writers, Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, and Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, stood alongside Inslee as he signed the bill. The governor complimented how quickly it passed both chambers.

"I do think it portends well that the Legislature has been able to act with great efficiency and speed to reach an agreement on how to get this done," Inslee said. "It's a good first step."

This year's supplemental budget includes $35 million in state funds to pay off a judgment from a lawsuit filed by home-care workers and more than $20 million to expand mental health services after a the state lost a lawsuit over the warehousing of patients in emergency rooms.

The money funds two new mental health wards at Western State Hospital in Lakewood: a 30-bed ward for patients there for civil treatment and a 15-bed ward for patients ordered there for forensic evaluation and treatment. The supplemental budget also puts $7 million toward foster care services, including supervised parental visits.

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Its largest spending measure covers $88 million in costs from fighting last year's wildfires including the Carlton Complex fire, which was the largest in state history.

Lawmakers are still working on crafting a new two-year operating budget. The House will unveil a proposal first in the coming weeks, followed by the Senate.