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Legislature Wraps On Time With Budget Increase, Local Capital Projects

The State Legislature adjourned its 105-day legislative session after sending Gov. Jay Inslee a new two-year state budget and several revenue bills that pay for increased funding to programs ranging from special education to mental health, as well as a clean energy measure that was a centerpiece of Inslee’s legislative agenda.

The budget passed the House on a 57-41 vote late last night after clearing the Senate on a 27-21 vote. Budget writers in the Democratic-led chambers reached agreement on the $52.4 billion budget Thursday, but full details of the budget were not made public until Saturday.

More than $800 million in new revenue was passed by the Legislature ahead of passage of the underlying budget, including an increase in business and occupation taxes on large banks and a change to the state’s real estate excise tax, but it does not include the capital gains tax that majority Democrats originally sought.

The capital budget approved over the weekend has a number of local projects included for the 12th Legislative District – $63 million in total. Rep. Mike Steele of Chelan joins Dan Langager on KOHO to recap that budget and the end of the session.


Lawmakers reached a deal to lift the state’s “levy lid,” blunting a tightening of limits on voter-approved local taxes for schools that was set to take effect this year. The district-specific tax measures — or levies — are used by many schools to supplement state allowances for programs ranging from extracurriculars to special education, but a state-set maximum had been set to decrease.

Legislators in the Senate voted 25-23 yesterday to avoid much of the decrease, following a lengthy back-and-forth over where exactly to set the limit and other details. It had earlier passed the House. The state schools superintendent endorsed raising the limit, also known the “levy lid,” and schools said it would help avert a funding crisis. But Republicans criticized both the measure, which they said ran contrary to the state’s solution to the 2012 McCleary ruling, and school districts’ request for more funds.


An initiative to bring back a form of affirmative action in Washington has cleared final votes in the state House and Senate and will become law. Initiative 1000 will allow recruitment goals for minority candidates in state jobs, education, and contracting, significantly loosening existing restrictions on targeted outreach and other forms of affirmative action. The measure passed the Senate on a 26-22 vote last night after the House passed it 56-42.

Affirmative action has been illegal in Washington since a 1998 initiative overturned an earlier version of the policy. The measure will allow consideration of factors like race, sex, ethnicity, and disability — but not as the sole qualifier for an otherwise less-qualified applicant. As an initiative to the Legislature, lawmakers had the option to send I-1000 to a popular vote; with approval in both chambers, however, it now heads to the Secretary of State to be entered into law.


A plan for a limited public option has cleared the state Legislature, and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature. The proposal would create a state-contracted insurance option that would be offered at a discounted rate by 2021. It would also require officials to plan expanded subsidies for private insurance, including for part of the state’s middle class.

After trading versions of the bill between the House and Senate, lawmakers in the state Senate approved a compromise version of the bill 27-21 Saturday evening after the same version was earlier approved by the state House. The bill has provoked both concerns over costs and criticisms that it doesn’t go far enough, bringing to Washington state a national debate over the best way to provide health care — and help more people afford it.


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