The Washington State House of Representatives and Senate voted in quick succession to approve a final operating budget for the upcoming biennium this afternoon, completing the essential work of the 2023 legislative session and putting the budget into Governor Jay Inslee’s hands for executive action.
ESSB 5187 is the vehicle for this year’s operating budget. Its title is making 2023–2025 fiscal biennium operating appropriations. It is prime sponsored by Senator Christine Rolfes (D‑23rd District: Kitsap Peninsula), the Chair of the Ways & Means Committee, which has budget writing responsibility in the Senate.
The House voted along party lines to approve the conference report (the negotiated final version that was created out of the previous versions adopted by both chambers) while the Senate saw a bipartisan majority vote yes.
The final operating budget (prior to executive action) is 1,403 pages long and consists of 1,906 sections. It does not incorporate any new progressive tax reform to balance our tax code (like a wealth tax) nor does it provide what NPI believes would be an appropriate level of funding for our K‑12 schools. School districts will thus be forced to make some very destructive cuts in the weeks to come.
Nevertheless, there are some important pieces within the budget that we advocated for, like funding for the Department of Natural Resources to continue assessing the seismic risks of our state’s school buildings:
Section 310, subsection 37: 300,000 of the general fund—state appropriation for fiscal year 2024 and $300,000 of the general fund — state appropriation for fiscal year 2025 are provided solely for the department to continue the work specified in section 3291, chapter 413, Laws of 2019 to assess public school seismic safety for school buildings not yet assessed, focused on highest risk areas of the state as a priority.
The roll call vote in the House was as follows:
Final Passage as recommended by the Conference Committee
Yeas: 58; Nays: 40
Voting Yea: Representatives Alvarado, Bateman, Berg, Bergquist, Berry, Bronoske, Callan, Chapman, Chopp, Cortes, Davis, Doglio, Donaghy, Duerr, Entenman, Farivar, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Fosse, Goodman, Gregerson, Hackney, Hansen, Kloba, Leavitt, Lekanoff, Macri, Mena, Morgan, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Paul, Peterson, Pollet, Ramel, Ramos, Reed, Reeves, Riccelli, Rule, Ryu, Santos, Senn, Shavers, Simmons, Slatter, Springer, Stearns, Stonier, Street, Taylor, Thai, Tharinger, Timmons, Walen, Wylie, Jinkins
Voting Nay: Representatives Abbarno, Barkis, Barnard, Caldier, Chambers, Chandler, Cheney, Christian, Connors, Corry, Couture, Dent, Dye, Eslick, Goehner, Graham, Griffey, Harris, Hutchins, Jacobsen, Klicker, Kretz, Low, Maycumber, McClintock, McEntire, Mosbrucker, Orcutt, Robertson, Rude, Sandlin, Schmick, Schmidt, Steele, Stokesbary, Volz, Walsh, Waters, Wilcox, Ybarra
As mentioned, it was a party-line vote.
In the Senate, the roll call was as follows:
Final Passage as Recommended by Conference Committee
Yeas: 37; Nays: 12
Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Braun, Cleveland, Conway, Dhingra, Frame, Gildon, Hasegawa, Holy, Hunt, Kauffman, Keiser, King, Kuderer, Liias, Lovelett, Lovick, MacEwen, Mullet, Muzzall, Nguyen, Nobles, Pedersen, Randall, Rivers, Robinson, Rolfes, Saldaña, Salomon, Shewmake, Stanford, Trudeau, Valdez, Van De Wege, Wellman, Wilson (Claire), Wilson (Lynda)
Voting Nay: Senators Boehnke, Dozier, Fortunato, Hawkins, McCune, Padden, Schoesler, Short, Torres, Wagoner, Warnick, Wilson (Jeff)
All Democratic senators voted yea. Republican senators who crossed over to support the budget were John Braun, the minority leader, Chris Gildon, Jeff Holy, Curtis King, Drew MacEwen, Ron Muzzall, Ann Rivers, and Lynda Wilson.
Former minority leader Mark Schoesler denounced the budget in fairly harsh terms in a rambling speech prior to the adoption of the conference report.
Senator Lynda Wilson, the ranking member of the Ways & Means Committee, struck a very different tone. She expressed regret that the final budget was not more like the version the Senate passed a few weeks ago, but nevertheless pledged her support, expressing satisfaction over the lack of new revenue.
Democratic Senators Christine Rolfes, June Robinson, Mark Mullet, Joe Nguyen, and Patty Kuderer all offered speeches in support of the budget.
ESSB 5187 now goes to Governor Jay Inslee.
The 2023 legislative session is slated to adjourn Sine Die in a few hours.