Senate passes pro-education operating budget

2017 legislative session • March 24, 2017 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Letter from Leadership 

The Current 2017-18

Dear Friend:  

Day 75 of the 105-day legislative session is coming to a close. We are now transitioning into the homestretch, with operating, capital and transportation budget proposals emerging from both chambers, and negotiations taking place on several key issues and bills. 

The big news this week is the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) passing its operating budget. Senate Bill 5048 passed off the Senate floor late Thursday night on a 25-24 vote. The state spending plan is exactly what you would expect from the MCC in that it:     

  • prioritizes and invests heavily in K-12 education;
  • protects the most vulnerable, including foster children, seniors, those struggling with mental illness, and the developmentally disabled; 
  • avoids general tax increases; and  
  • is sustainable.

The plan would continue a sharp upward trend of investments in K-12 education since Republicans took the reins of the operating budget in the Senate. In fact, 50 percent of the operating budget would be dedicated to education under this proposal -- the highest percentage since 1983. 

This is important because, under Democratic majorities from 2005 to 2012, K-12 education spending was not prioritized. That's not just my assessment. The chair of the Washington State Democratic Party reminded everyone in January that Democrats underfunded education when they had supermajorities in the Legislature. You can find her quote in this article.

You can learn more about the MCC's operating budget below.

House Democrats to release their operating budget Monday 

The ball is now in the House Democrats' court. It's time for them to show us what their budget priorities are and how they plan to pay for them. As of today, they have yet to reveal which taxes they would create or raise. All we have to go by is this list of proposed bills. The governor also pushed for new and increased taxes in a proposal he released in December. 

We look forward to this debate in the House Appropriations Committee and on the House floor next week. You can weigh in on this debate by going to this link and clicking on "Comment on this bill," or calling the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.  

New Republican legislation introduced to change inflated car-tab fee

The Sound Transit 3 (ST3) controversy is intensifying. People are understandably upset and letting us know. We empathize with the car-tab sticker shock being felt by residents in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, and agree with the calls for relief and more accountability for Sound Transit.

Republicans in the Legislature have proposed bills to change the car-tab formula, make Sound Transit directly accountable to voters (see Senate Bill 5001 below), allow local governments to opt out of paying the three ST3 taxes, and prohibit Regional Transit Authority property taxes on less than a whole parcel. Democrats have proposed measures that a reporter correctly described as "less aggressive" in this recent article

There are now Republican companion bills in the House and Senate that would prevent the Department of Licensing from collecting car-tab fees based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) value and require the agency to use Kelley Blue Book Value. The Senate version will receive a hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee on Monday. 

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you ever have any questions or input to provide. We look forward to hearing from you.

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
39th District
(360) 786-7967

Senate passes pro-education operating budget

The MCC held a news conference on Tuesday to roll out its operating budget proposalSenate Bill 5048 was heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee that evening, moved out of that committee on Wednesday, and passed off the Senate floor late on Thursday night. You can watch the long floor debate here (03:49:40).

A policy-specific breakdown of the MCC's $43 billion state spending plan can be found below:

Eight bills to watch

Fixing the Hirst problem | Senate Bill 5239  

  • The legislation would basically take our state back to the point prior to the controversial Hirst decision from the state Supreme Court and put the onus back on the Department of Ecology to determine impairment. It passed off the Senate floor on a 28-21 vote on Feb. 28, and will receive a hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. While Democrats have proposed alternatives, they would add bureaucratic burdens on landowners -- including increased fees and paperwork.

School sitingHouse Bill 1017 

  • The measure would allow local governments and school districts to come to an agreement on siting schools outside of an urban growth area. It passed out of the House on a 82-15 vote on March 7, and received a hearing in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee on Thursday. You can learn more from this recent Spokesman-Review article.

Rural economic development House Bill 2133

Reforming Sound Transit | Senate Bill 5001 

  • The legislation would change the board of a Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) from appointed to elected, and reduce the number of directly elected board members from 19 to 11. It passed off the Senate floor on a 29-20 vote on March 1, but has yet to receive a hearing in the House Transportation Committee.

On-site sewage systems | House Bill 1503 

  • The measure would provide that the Growth Management Act does not preclude counties from certifying homeowners, or their family members or tenants, to inspect their on-site sewage systems. It passed out of the House on a 91-6 vote on March 6, and received a hearing in the Senate Local Government Committee on Tuesday. 

Wildfire preventionHouse Bill 1711 

Costs of textbooks and course materialsHouse Bill 1375 

  • The legislation would direct community and technical colleges to provide the cost of required textbooks and other course materials during registration and to identify whether the course uses open educational resources. It passed out of the House on a 97-0 vote on March 8, and received a hearing in the Senate Higher Education Committee on March 16.

The Regulatory Fairness Act | House Bill 1120

  • The measure would enhance the economic development and viability of small businesses by modifying the Regulatory Fairness Act. It passed out of the House on a 98-0 vote on March 2, and received a hearing in the Senate State Government Committee on March 17.

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