Session wrap up
March 22, 2018 | By Washington House Democrats
The 2018 legislative session ended March 8. It was the second year in the biennium, meaning that it was a short session of only 60 days. Despite the tight time frame, we passed a lot of new legislation that will move our state forward.
Operating, Transportation, and Capital Budgets
In the second year of the biennium we pass a supplemental budget to round out the previous year’s appropriations. We aren’t around all year, so we can’t make adjustments in real time – we do it once a year.
You can find materials for all three budgets – including summaries, agency details, and project lists – on this website. It is a great place to track your tax dollars.
The 2018 supplemental Operating Budget spends an additional $756 million over the enacted biennial budget, for a total of $44.4 billion over two years. Highlights include:
- Lower property taxes: Reduces the state property tax rate by 30 cents per $1000 assessed value, as requested by taxpayers across the state.
- K-12 Education: Moves up full phase-in of McCleary educator salaries and increases the Special Education multiplier, as required by the Supreme Court and state Constitution.
- Higher Education: Fully funds State Need Grant over the next four years.
- Behavioral Health: $306 million investment in behavioral health, including raising rates for providers and providing funding to combat the opioid crisis.
The 2018 supplemental Transportation Budget spends money across the state, including projects in the 11th District like the Bronson Way Bridge repair and 1-405 widening between SR 101 to SR 167. More information about transportation projects in the 11th District here.
Because we passed the 2017-18 Capital Budget in January, the supplemental Capital Budget is modest. It does include $1.5 million for the Family First Community Center in Renton, a partnership between the City of Renton, the Doug Baldwin Foundation, and other local governments and businesses. More information about capital projects in the 11th District here.
Access to Democracy package
Earlier this session, I wrote about our Access to Democracy package, a group of bills to expand participation and representation in our state’s elections. As of today, each of these seven bills has been passed by the House and Senate. They are now on their way to the Governor’s desk. Read more about the Access to Democracy package here.
Securing Washington’s elections
This week we passed a bill to make our elections more secure through enhanced post-election audits. This bill is in response to a national report that was recently released by the Center for American Progress, which can be found here. Read more about the election security package here.
Public records at the Legislature
I have heard from many of you over the last few weeks about SB 6617, regarding public records at the legislature. The Governor vetoed the bill, so it will not go into effect. Over the next nine months, a taskforce of legislators, open government advocates, media representatives, and other state agencies will make recommendations to the 2019 legislature about the release of records.
People said that they want greater openness at the Legislature. They want to know who we’re meeting with. I’m not sure that people want their own emails to their legislators to become public – whether the emails contain sensitive information or whether they’re just expressing support for controversial issues. This is the kind of question we’re hoping to answer with the taskforce.
The Governor has begun signing bills into law. This week three bills I sponsored, including Breakfast After the Bell, will be signed.
I welcome your continued feedback, and will keep working on making the Legislature more transparent.
Thank you for reading and for your thoughts on legislation this session.