Week 7 General Legislative Review – February 19th-23rd

Wednesday was the cutoff for bills to be voted out of their policy committees in the chamber opposite to where they started. Bills with a financial impact to the state must make a quick journey through the fiscal committees, with a deadline of Monday, February 26th. After that, the chambers will return to the floor full-time to debate bills until Friday, March 1 when they will turn attention to final concurrence and passing final budgets until Sine Die.

Electoral Changes

The end of session is nearing and some legislators are beginning to make other plans. In response to the impending retirement of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-5th Congressional District), Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber (R-7) has announced her intention to run for the seat. Maycumber, a former legislative assistant, was first elected to the House in 2017 and serves as the minority floor leader for her caucus. Another Republican will be handily elected to that safe seat. On the west side, Rep. Spencer Hutchins (R-26) has announced he will not seek reelection, noting the part-time legislature has taken a financial toll on his business. This will be an expensive swing race for Gig Harbor and the east side of Kitsap peninsula. On Tuesday, the Lewis County Board of Commissioners voted to appoint Joel McEntire’s (R-19) stepdaughter Lillian Hale to temporarily serve as his replacement beginning at the end of session as he has been called to active service in the Marine Corps reserve. Hale is studying nursing at Lower Columbia College. While not required, it is customary for a family member to fill in for deployed state officials. And finally, Senator Sam Hunt (D-22) has announced his retirement after nearly 24 years in the legislature. Rep. Beth Doglio (D-22) has indicated she is not interested in the seat, but Rep. Jessica Bateman (D-22) has announced she will seek it. Olympia City Councilmember Dr. Lisa Parshley announced she will run for Rep. Bateman’s House seat.


Mentioned last week, House Speaker Jinkins (D-27) and Senate Majority Leader Billig (D-3) announced which of the six Initiatives to the Legislature will be heard during session and which will advance directly to the ballot. The House and Senate will hold joint public hearings on February 27th and 28th on I-2113 (police pursuits), I-2111 (state income tax), and I-2081 (parental rights). These are the initiatives that would have been more likely to pass at the ballot and would have made it more difficult for voters to simply reject all initiatives. I-2117 (repeal of the Climate Commitment Act), I-2109 (repeal of the capital gains tax), and I-2124 (opt-out of Washington’s long-term care program) will go to the ballot. These three are higher stakes for Democrats and their supporters and in their estimation, worthy of a greater, more expensive fight. If passed at the ballot, a repeal of the Climate Commitment Act would cost the state dollars that are currently being spent on environmental programs, $1.8 billion already. If repealed, the capital gains tax would remove state money being spent on education and childcare. The state has already raked in nearly $900 million from the tax. And the third initiative, a repeal of the long-term care program would cut funds that ultimately go to SEIU 775, one of the most powerful unions statewide that represents long-term care workers.

Operating Budget

Supplemental budgets are passed in even-numbered years and allow the state to make mid-course corrections to the two-year budgets passed in odd-numbered years. It also gives the state the opportunity to adjust spending to address emergent needs. On Sunday, Senate budget writers released their $71.7 billion supplemental operating budget. This budget adds nearly $1.9 billion in new spending to the two-year budget passed by lawmakers in April 2023. The budget plan includes no new general taxes and complies with the state’s four-year balanced budget requirement. It leaves $4.3 billion in total reserves at the end of the biennium. The proposal highlights include a focus on education and behavioral health, including $242 million in new spending for K-12 schools, including funding for student meals, special education, and staffing needs, like paraeducators; $252 million in new spending to support efforts to transform the state’s behavioral health system, including funding for facilities and staffing; $135.9 million to operate 72 beds at Olympic Heritage Behavioral Health; $20 million for the University of Washington Behavioral Health teaching hospital; and $19 million to establish a psychiatric residential treatment facility in Lake Burien for youth, aged 12-18, with complex needs.

House budget writers released their $71 billion operating proposal on Monday, along with a capital and transportation budget. Highlights of the operating proposal include:

  • Low and moderate-income clean energy assistance: $150 million
  • Support for immigrants, refugees, asylees, and people who are undocumented: $35 million
  • Health care for uninsured adults: $28 million
  • Recognizing and supporting tribal sovereignty in the budget: $34 million
  • Housing vulnerable populations, tenants’ rights, and homeownership support: $26 million
  • Increased provider rates and reimbursements including basic foster care and ECEAP: $26 million
  • Staffing at Echo Glen for education, behavioral health supports, and increased security: $22 million
  • Increased childcare slots, expanded eligibility and technical assistance: $13 million
  • Special education, including increasing the cap to 17.25%: $35 million
  • Materials, supplies, & operating costs: $44 million
  • Existing student transportation: $77 million
  • UW Hospital Support: $50 million
  • Expansion of workforce and training: $73 million
  • Low and moderate–income clean energy assistance: $150 million (Climate Commitment Act)
  • Increased need for local homeless services: $40 million
  • Support to existing local housing programs to backfill the document recording fee: $31 million
  • Housing vulnerable populations, supporting tenants’ rights and homeownership: $26 million
  • Food assistance for seniors, summer EBT for kids, and food banks: $73 million
  • Additional support for refugees, asylees and newly arriving individuals: $35 million
  • Increased access to opioid use disorder treatment, programs, and supplies: $151 million
  • Public health awareness, outreach, and data dashboards: $13 million
  • Outreach and support for Tribes: $6 million
  • Increased state inpatient behavioral health capacity: $210 million
  • Increased rates for long–term civil commitments in the community: $47 million
  • Behavioral health personal care for those with exceptional needs: $34 million
  • Continues the Medicaid Transformation Project to improve health care outcomes: $270 million
  • Funding for health equity for uninsured adults: $28 million
  • 5% assisted living rate increase: $31 million
  • 3% rate increase for supported living providers: $20 million
  • Provider rates & reimbursements, including specialty dementia, adult day and SNF: $8 million
  • New beds for youth with complex I/DD and BH needs: $15 million
  • Clean energy and climate programs: $63 million (CCA)
  • Payments to exempt agricultural fuel users: $30 million (CCA)
  • Forest health & wildfire protection: $72 million
  • Water quality & availability: $22 million
  • Salmon production, habitat & recovery: $21 million

Transportation Budget

The 2023-25 House and Senate transportation budgets have a $56 million revenue shortfall due to reduced ferry ridership and diminished registration and title revenues. Those traditional revenues are being supplemented by the Climate Commitment Act. More than $1 billion in CCA revenues will fund transportation projects related to ferries, port electrification, public transit, safe routes to schools, and fish barrier removal projects. The Senate proposed transportation budget shows a slightly more conservative outlook and invests more in roadway maintenance and ferry staffing.

Capital Budget

The proposed capital budgets have a big discrepancy to work out. The House and Senate have about a $144 million difference between what they propose for spending on public school construction. For background, public school construction is funded through a combination of voter-approved local bond measures and state construction bonds. Voters need to approve local construction bonds for their school district to be eligible for state construction bond money, called the school construction assistance program or SCAP. The supermajority requirement for approving school construction bonds in local elections means a lot of school districts fail to fund construction projects, leaving money on the table. Last year, the budget writers in the House and Senate assumed about $588 million for SCAP, but about half of the local money failed to materialize, leaving about $294 million in savings available for other projects. The Senate opted to spend most of that SCAP money on K-12 construction along with an added $121M in state money. Meanwhile, the House side funded K-12 with about $22M of that leftover SCAP and moved the remainder to other places in the budget.


For Week 7, TVW’s Legislative Review covers budgets, bills to place new rules on firearms dealers, eliminate the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, help police officer recruitment, regulate what schools can do with instructional materials, and more.

Upcoming Dates:

  • February 26 – Opposite House Fiscal Committee Cutoff
  • March 1 – Floor Cutoff
  • March 7 – Last day of Regular Session