Washington State's Capitol Campus in Olympia, from the air
An aerial view of Washington State's Capitol Campus in Olympia, with the distinctive Legislative Building in the center (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

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:

Roll Call
SB 5187
Oper­at­ing budget
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:

Roll Call
SB 5187
Oper­at­ing budget
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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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