Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have reached the halfway point of the scheduled 60-day legislative session. Feb. 5 was the final day for House committees to consider bills introduced in the House. Feb. 17 is the final day for House bills to pass the full House. As a result, we are now focusing our time on final action on House bills that have been approved by their committees.
Washington State Budgeting
The Washington State Legislature meets on a part-time basis each January. One of the primary roles of the Legislature is to approve state budgets. The state enacts budgets on a two-year cycle, called a biennium. The 2015-17 biennium began on July 1 and will remain in effect through June 30, 2017. The two-year budgets can be modified when the Legislature convenes in the even-numbered years, like this year. It is common for the Legislature to update and modify the state's existing budgets. These revised budgets are known as supplemental budgets.
Washington state has three different budgets. Here is a brief description of each:
• The operating budget provides for the daily operating expenses of the state, including K-12 and higher education, health and human services and public safety. Since the enactment of the 2015-17 budget, we have seen modest revenue growth. However, there has also been an increase in our projected maintenance level costs. Although these costs are up, due in large part to an adjustment related to Medicaid managed care rates, lawmakers are looking at ways to prevent any potential shortfalls. The current 2015-17 operating budget is $38.2 billion.
• The capital budget is often called the “bricks and mortar” budget because it pays for public facilities, including the construction at colleges, prisons and state buildings. This budget invests in many infrastructure improvement projects throughout our state. It includes funding for additional school classroom space and in the past has provided loans to local governments for sewers, parks and other uses. The current 2015-17 capital budget is $3.7 billion.
• The transportation budget provides for the maintenance, preservation and operation of the state's highways, bridges and ferries. It also funds the Washington State Patrol and the Department of Transportation. Having an effective transportation system is critical to our state and local economy. This budget is approved every two years and is often updated during the 60-day sessions. This budget funds the day-to-day operations of the transportation system and is separate from any transportation revenue package to fund new projects. The current 2015-17 transportation budget is $7.6 billion.
With each of these budgets, it is important that the Legislature make wise decisions that efficiently invest your hard-earned tax dollars. For more information on the state budgeting process, please click here.
As always, I appreciate hearing any of your questions, concerns or comments. Occasionally, I even get the opportunity to do this live! Last week, I was a guest on KPQ's “It's Your Turn” show where I discussed issues before the Legislature and took calls from listeners. Please click here to listen to last week's broadcast.
If you have any further questions, please contact my office anytime at (360) 786-7832, toll-free at (800) 562-6000, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Olympia.
122G Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7832 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000