Dear friends and neighbors,

As we hurtle toward the finish line of the 2015 Legislative Session, all eyes are focused on the budgets. The Operating Budget is the largest policy bill of the session and impacts all Washingtonians.

There are three budgets that help keep the state moving – the Operating budget, the Capital Budget and the Transportation Budget. Each biennium, non-partisan Senate staff put together very helpful resource guides on each of the budgets and important tax information.

This year there is ‘A Citizen’s Guide to the Washington State Budget,’ ‘A Citizen’s Guide to Washington State K-12 Finance,’ ‘A Legislative Guide to Washington State Property Taxes,’ and ‘A Legislative Guide to Washington State’s Tax Structure.’ These little guides provide very useful information!


The Lay of the Land: Bills that continue to move and those that won’t…this year.

Wednesday was the last major cutoff day before we adjourn Sine Die on April 26. Policy bills sent to the opposite chamber which failed to pass out of that chamber by 5 p.m. yesterday are not likely to be signed into law this year. No bill is ever truly dead until Sine Die, but typically bills that are necessary to implement the budget or bills that are essential to final negotiations are the ones still in play. We will see in the coming days which bills those turn out to be.

At the beginning of every legislative session there is hope that bills that are introduced will pass. This optimism usually lasts until the first great winnowing process happens with the first cutoff.

As the chart below indicates only 22% of the bills sponsored by Senate Democrats went to the House of Representatives for consideration and 36% of bills sponsored by Senate Republicans passed to the House. Less than one third of the total number of bills introduced in the Senate made it to the House of Representatives. I predict that this year we will see a historically low number of bills that make it all the way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Senate Bills

Number of members by Political Party Number of bills introduced during the 2015 Session Number of bills that passed in the Senate and went to the House of Representatives for consideration Percent of the total
Republicans (26) 716 259 36
Democrats (23) 381 85 22
Total 1097 344 31

Capital Budget passes with many great projects for the 27th!

The Capital Budget passed in the Senate this week and is clearly the product of what a bipartisan budget should look like. The budget passed to the House on a vote of 39 to 10. From the first meeting up until the final printing of the budget, Democrats and Republicans worked together.

The Capital Budget invests in affordable housing loans and grants, increased funding for mental health beds, and an increase in K-12 school construction funding to meet the demands of smaller class sizes. The Capital Budget also invests in local projects to improve the quality of life across the State of Washington.

Some of the many projects in the 27th Legislative District included in the Senate Capital Budget:

  • Funding for the Old Spaghetti Factory Building
  • Classroom renovations at the University of Washington Tacoma Urban Solutions Center;
  • Improvements to a section of the Prairie Line Trail behind the Tacoma Art Museum;
  • Support for creating more mental health inpatient services beds through a joint venture with Franciscan Health Systems and Multicare;
  • Upgrades to the heating system at the Balfour Dock building, which will allow the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum to operate year round;
  • Support for the Eastside Tacoma Community Center;
  • Funding renovations of the façade at the 100-year old Pantages Theater;
  • Upgrades to the Washington State Historical Museum; and
  • Cleanup of hazardous properties from the old Asarco Smelter Plume site to the Port of Tacoma.

The two areas of concern, at this point that I see, deal with providing additional funding for clean energy and the proposal to go into more debt by bonding our public works infrastructure projects. There is a tradeoff to these decisions, and while going into debt is not ideal, it does free up additional funding for more projects.

The proposed Senate Capital Budget will need to be reconciled with the plan that the House of Representatives passed before we end up with the final version of the Capital Budget.

Thank you!


Thank you to everyone who has made the trip to Olympia this session. I am always happy to see so many visitors from the mighty 27th, including these young advocates for family planning services (who even brought their own selfie stick for our photo!)

If you have any comments, questions or concerns about the legislative process or your interactions with a state agency, please feel free to email me or call my office any time.

Until next time,