Operating, transportation and capital budgets

2021 legislative session • April 2, 2021

Washington State House Republicans

Dear Friend:

We just concluded House floor action for the day following the passage of the House transportation and capital budgets. I provide some details on these budgets below.

State representatives will be back tomorrow to vote on the House Democrats' operating budget. I will share more information on this spending plan next week, but can tell you now that House Republicans oppose it for a few reasons -- most notably its reliance on an income tax on capital gains.

Our budget lead, Rep. Drew Stokesbary, explained our opposition at the Republican media availability on Wednesday. He also shared his views on TVW's The Impact this week. You can find details on the House Republican operating budget here.    

House transportation budget 

The transportation budget funds the transportation needs of our state. It is funded primarily by fuel taxes, license and registration fees, fares, and tolls.

The House transportation budget passed on a 87-11 vote. Our transportation lead and my seatmate, Rep. Andrew Barkis, did a great job of helping shape this plan. He described it as a "bare-bones, get-it-done budget." This is because transportation revenue has taken a big hit due to COVID-related shutdowns. You can read Andrew's statement here

Is this budget exactly what House Republicans would have put forward if we were in the majority? No. And that's why we had a few "no" votes. But it does reflect bipartisan collaboration.    

House capital budget 

The capital budget, often called the construction budget, makes important investments across our state. It is funded through general obligation bonds, dedicated cash accounts, federal dollars, and financing contracts.

The House capital budget passed with unanimous support. The proposal would spend $5.7 billion, with $3.5 billion from the sale of general obligation bonds, and leave $176 million in bond capacity for next year.  

Our new ranking member on this committee, Rep. Mike Steele, was a strong advocate for the communities we represent and we appreciate his efforts. Here are some of the highlights: 

  • $781.7 million for the 2021-23 School Construction Assistance Program (SCAP).
  • $679 million, including $504.8 million in bonds, for the state's four-year institutions.
  • $227 million for the Public Works Board to issue grants and loans to local governments for infrastructure projects.
  • $191 million to begin construction of the behavioral health teaching hospital run by the University of Washington. 
  • $110 million for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.
  • $97 million in Behavioral Health Capacity grants for community mental health services.
  • $94 million for local and community projects statewide.

To find projects by legislative district, click on this link

Misstatement in an important debate  

Most of the egregious gun-control bills did not move forward this year. However, one appears headed to the governor's desk -- Senate Bill 5038. The measure would prohibit the open carry of firearms at or near permitted demonstrations, on the Capitol Campus grounds, and in other state legislative locations.

I believe this bill is unconstitutional. It is also unfair to law-abiding citizens, especially those who have come to Olympia to exercise their constitutional rights for years without any problems. You will hear these arguments and others in this House floor debate video.  

In this debate, a member of the majority party said the Washington State Patrol requested an emergency clause for the legislation. This is not true. And the agency is neutral on the bill. The Washington State Wire explained the chain of events that led to this false statement in this story

What to watch for 

One of the biggest storylines for the homestretch of the legislative session is what, if anything, will happen in terms of a transportation revenue package. It has been reported that this issue is tied to parts of the governor's climate change agenda and Democrats are negotiating a "grand bargain." I talk about these issues in my weekly video. Please stay tuned. 

Have a happy Easter. 


Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader
(360) 786-7912