The Legislative Building is shown partially shrouded in fog at the Capitol in Olympia on Jan. 7. A federal COVID relief bill on its way to its first vote in Congress would bring about $10 billion to Washington. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

The Legislative Building is shown partially shrouded in fog at the Capitol in Olympia on Jan. 7. A federal COVID relief bill on its way to its first vote in Congress would bring about $10 billion to Washington. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Federal package could drive more than $10B to Washington

The state would get $7.6B for COVID response, schools and child care. Snohomish County is in line for $160M.

OLYMPIA — A massive federal COVID relief bill steaming toward its first vote in Congress would steer roughly $10 billion into coffers of cities, counties, school districts and state government in Washington.

The $1.9 trillion package, dubbed the American Rescue Plan Act, also would provide millions of dollars to individual transit agencies and airport operators, extend pandemic unemployment assistance, provide financial aid for struggling businesses and increase tax credits for child care.

And it would send $1,400 to each adult earning under $75,000 a year as well as their dependents.

The U.S. House is expected to vote on the measure as early as Friday, then send it to the Senate where the timeline for action is less clear. If the Senate makes any changes, the House will need to decide whether to accept them.

“This legislation meets the moment of this crisis with a pandemic still raging, weak economic data, and families just barely holding on,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, whose 1st Congressional District includes part of eastern Snohomish County. “We were sent to Congress to support our communities and this legislation shows that this is our top priority.”

It’s a 600-page piece of legislation with money distributed out of a dozen federal program buckets.

One of those would send $4.3 billion to the state to cover a myriad of COVID-related costs, a sum roughly equal to what Washington received collectively from the two federal relief packages enacted in 2020.

A different bucket would provide the state with an additional $1.95 billion for public schools, $655 million for higher education, $635 million for child care and $13 million for Head Start programs.

Overall, at least $7.6 billion could make its way to state government.

“If it is the package they are talking about now, that’s a lot of money,” House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, said Tuesday. “Our staff is watching it develop every day.”

Lawmakers will decide how to apportion the funds, she said. Whether it occurs in the regular session or in a special session depends on when Congress acts and what restrictions are placed on use of those dollars, she said. It took until a few days ago for the Legislature to approve allocating $2.2 billion from a 2020 federal aid bill.

Meanwhile, majority Democrats in the House and Senate are pushing several new taxes this session to boost funding of public health, behavioral health and child care programs, and to make the state’s tax system less regressive.

The looming infusion of this one-time money could impact some of those plans.

“I don’t think it would be honest to say it doesn’t have any impact,” Jinkins said. “There is a need to fund services and there is a need to reform our tax structure. What we do might be different based on federal policy.”

The American Rescue Plan also would provide $2.4 billion for cities and counties in Washington.

Snohomish County stands to receive $160 million. A year ago it got $143 million in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“We’re pleased and a bit surprised,” County Executive Dave Somers said Wednesday. “It is a substantial amount of money. There are needs right now. And I think the influx of dollars will be immensely useful in planning for and speeding our recovery.”

Money is needed to cover ongoing costs of the public health response to the pandemic including buying personal protective equipment, conducting COVID tests and operating vaccination sites. Some of the dollars will be alloted to the Snohomish Health District, he said.

A large portion won’t be earmarked for spending right away. He said he intends to work with county council members to develop a plan to apportion funds to several programs as they did with prior federal allocations.

That could mean assistance for those unable to pay their rent or mortgage, and for businesses fighting to reopen or continue operating under the burden of continuing statewide coronavirus restrictions.

Cities will be getting direct support too.

Everett would receive $20.9 million and Marysville $8.9 million, according to House reports. Those numbers are firm because they are among a group of cities that receive direct payments for Community Development Block Grants.

For cities that do not, a House panel set potential minimum and maximum allocations. Edmonds, for example, could get between $7.9 million and $9.5 million. For Lake Stevens, the range is $6.2 to $7.4 million, Lynnwood it is $7.1 to $8.5 million, Mill Creek it is $3.9 to $4.7 million and Snohomish it is $1.9 to $2.3 million.

On education, the federal bill would allot $1.95 billion to Washington for its public school system — nearly three times what Congress provided in its latest aid package. A portion will go to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, with the rest doled out to districts.

The legislation requires districts spend at least 20% to “address learning loss” with “evidence-based interventions” such as summer school, comprehensive after-school programs, or longer school years. That was not a requirement of funding provided in 2020.

Districts will have until September 2023 to spend what they receive — which could be sizable.

Mukilteo could get $26.5 million, Everett $26.4 million and Edmonds $22.9 million, according to House estimates. Smaller districts will fare well too. Arlington may receive $3.6 million, Monroe $4.2 million, Sultan $1.7 million, and Darrington $1.2 million.

Another component of the bill will bolster transportation with $5.9 million for Paine Field and $6.1 million for Community Transit. And Sound Transit could wind up with a big chunk of a nearly $900 million allocation for Seattle-area public transit operations.

Inside the numbers

Public schools will receive additional federal funds through the $1.9 trillion aid package working its way through Congress.

Here are estimates for area districts in the version under consideration in the House.

Mukilteo $26.5 million

Everett $26.4 million

Edmonds $22.9 million

Marysville $12.8 million

Lake Stevens $6.3 million

Northshore $5.2 million

Monroe $4.2 million

Arlington $3.6 million

Stanwood Camano $3.6

Snohomish $2.4 million

Lakewood $2.3 million

Sultan $1.7 million

Granite Falls $1.7 million

Darrington, $1.2 million

Overall statewide $1.95 billion

(Source: House Committee on Education and Labor)

Reporter Joseph Thompson contributed to this report.

Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com | @dospueblos

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