The end of the regular legislative session

2016 legislative session • March 11, 2016 

The Current

Letter from Leadership 

Dear Friend:  

The 2016 regular legislative session ended last night. Unfortunately, budget writers could not reach an agreement on the supplemental operating budget and the governor has called state lawmakers back for a 30-day special session. This is a disappointing outcome and Washingtonians deserve better.

Supplemental operating budget

The supplemental operating budget should simply be a midcourse adjustment to the two-year state spending plan passed last year. This year, House Democrats proposed a budget that went well beyond the traditional scope of a supplemental operating budget. For example, they proposed: raising taxes by $120 million; using the Budget Stabilization Account for non-emergencies; not accounting for $487 million dedicated for K-3 class-size reduction; and ignoring the important four-year budget outlook.   

Like last year, House Democrats are holding on to unrealistic and fiscally irresponsible budget positions. They are also the only caucus to bring up the possibility of not passing a supplemental operating budget at all. We don't want this to happen.

Governor vetoes 27 bills

In an attempt to spur movement on a budget compromise, Gov. Inslee threatened to veto bills if an agreement wasn't reached by the end of the legislative session. He kept his promise.

Last night, the governor vetoed 27 Senate bills. Most of these measures had broad bipartisan, if not unanimous, support. It was surprising to see him veto measures that would: help higher education students with disabilities; promote economic development; evaluate factors for out-of-pocket costs for patients; and authorize the growing of industrial hemp. The governor even vetoed pro-environment legislation.

Every piece of legislation means something to someone or some group. People worked very hard to get these bills passed. In the end, the governor's vetoes hurt everyday Washingtonians and it's very unfortunate.


The special session and governor's actions overshadow many of the successes this legislative session. There were several accomplishments the last 60 days. For example, state lawmakers: 

The days ahead

Budget writers will continue to meet and negotiate in the days ahead. State lawmakers will be called back when it's time to vote on bills. Hopefully this is sooner rather than later.

The next edition of this e-newsletter will be the last one for 2016. I look forward to sharing some good news with you then, including the details of a fiscally responsible supplemental operating budget that builds on the important framework put in place last year.

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
39th District


Public charter schools saved 

One of the big successes of this legislative session was saving public charter schools. The state Supreme Court invalidated our charter-schools initiative (I-1240 from 2012) last September. This left more than 1,200 students, their parents and their teachers worrying about the future of their schools. 

Through Senate Bill 6194, public charter schools are re-established in our state and will operate separately from the common school system.

Our education lead, Rep. Chad Magendanz, played a leading roll in getting this bill passed. In his news release Wednesday, he said: "These innovative schools allow many otherwise disadvantaged students to get a quality education. Students who may have struggled in a rigid public school system are given the opportunity to be successful with new styles of teaching and encouragement."

The House floor debate was passionate, with both sides making their cases. Some of the best audio clips from the debate can be heard here. You can also watch Rep. Magendanz's video update on public charter schools here.

This has been a long, winding road to success. On March 10, 2004, the Legislature passed a bill to establish public charter schools. It would later be repealed by a referendum. You can find the news release from former Gov. Locke here.


Supplemental transportation budget passes

The 2015-17 transportation budget included $3.8 billion for capital projects, $2.3 billion for operating programs and $1.5 billion in debt service payments. The Connecting Washington plan included an additional $508.5 million which, combined with $32.6 million in compensation changes in the operating budget, brought the total to $8.2 billion.

The supplemental transportation budget will provide an additional $416 million for capital projects ($325 million in reappropriations), $51 million for operating programs and $3 million in debt service payments, for a total increase of $476 million. This pushes the 2015-17 transportation budget to more than $8.6 billion.

Unfortunately, the major problems with I-405, including congestion at peak hours, were not fully addressed in this budget. We introduced three amendments on the House floor to address these problems, but they were not allowed to move forward. This Washington Policy Center blog post explains the amendments and what happened to them.  


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