Legislature approves budget updates and adjourns session

Wenatchee Valley from above e-banner

March 11, 2022

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

At nearly midnight last night, the Legislature adjourned its hybrid session in Olympia on schedule. The 60-day Legislative session consisted primarily of Zoom meetings with some work completed in-person. It was a busy time for me as I continued as the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee’s ranking member. This session was particularly busy for education committee leaders due to continued school issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and school funding issues. I also sponsored a few individual bills and budget requests. In the end, the Legislature approved updates to all three budgets for the 2021-23 biennium, which ends on June 30, 2023. The updated operating budget ($64.1 billion), transportation budget ($12.2 billion), and capital budget ($7.8 billion) were finalized on the final days of session after much negotiation. I voted against the update to the operating budget but for the adjustments to the transportation and capital budgets.

Capitol and Sundial

The Washington State Legislature officially adjourned its 60-day session on March 10. In addition to operating, transportation, and capital budget updates, the Legislature also approved changes related to transportation, police reforms, long-term care taxes, redistricting maps, and affordable housing.

Operating budget ($64.1 billion for 2021-2023)

The operating budget funds the day-to-day operations of the state, including early learning, K-12 education, higher education, health and human services, criminal justice, natural resources, courts, and other areas. At the beginning of the 2021-2023 biennium, the House and Senate majorities significantly increased the size of the operating budget to a record $59.2 billion. As with any budget or other large-scale legislation, there are always things to like and things not to like. Despite the COVID pandemic, state revenues are still projected to be very positive, with more dollars flowing into the state than what was projected earlier in the pandemic. The final supplemental operating budget is projected to spend $64.1 billion total over the 2021-23 biennium. I have major concerns about the sustainability of the overall state budget if future revenues decline. The 2021-23 updated operating budget was approved on the final day of session. I voted “no” in the Senate. For more information about the final operating budget, click here.

10-year operating budget growth chart

The state operating budget's size has increased greatly in recent years. The 2013-15 budget authorized $33.9 billion in state spending. The budget update approved this session for the 2021-23 biennium is $64.1 billion. I could not support the budget update and have concerns about the budget’s overall sustainability.

Transportation budget ($12.2 billion for 2021-2023)

The transportation budget funds the construction and maintenance of the state transportation system, including the maintenance and preservation of roads, bridges, and ferries. This budget also funds the state agencies and commissions that serve our transportation system, including the Washington State Patrol, Department of Licensing, Department of Transportation, Washington Traffic Safety Commission, County Road Administration Board, Transportation Improvement Board, Transportation Commission, and Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board. The budget also funds numerous previously approved road projects based on their construction schedules. Due to the lack of driving during the COVID pandemic, much of the gas tax and other revenues that the transportation budget depends upon were significantly less than in past years, but infrastructure support was provided to states through recent federal legislation. The 2022 legislative session for transportation proved to be especially interesting as Senate and House transportation leaders proposed a new 16-year, $16.9 billion “Move Ahead Washington” package this session, primarily for preservation and maintenance of the existing system and to complete large-scale transportation projects. (This is separate from the supplemental transportation budget but factors into future spending plans). It combines federal infrastructure funds, climate revenues approved during a previous session, transfers from the operating budget, and license plate and driver license fees to fund a collection of new investments. The final package included $4.5 million for a Highway 2 Pedestrian Undercrossing in Leavenworth and added $85 million in matching grant funds Wenatchee’s Confluence Parkway is eligible to receive. The funding referenced in the proposal coincides with the remaining funding gap for Wenatchee’s $134 million Confluence Parkway project. I voted "yes" on this proposal on the final day of session. The 2021-23 transportation budget was also approved on the final day of session. I voted "yes" in the Senate. For more information about the additional 16-year Move Ahead Washington investments or the $12.2 billion transportation budget for 2021-23, click here.

Confluence Parkway graphic

The city of Wenatchee’s $134 million Confluence Parkway project received a $49 million federal “Infrastructure for Rebuilding America” (Infra) grant but was $85 million short of funding. The final “Move Ahead Washington” bill included $85 million for “Infra Grant Match.” To learn more about this project, click here and here.

Capital budget ($7.8 billion for 2021-2023)

The state capital budget funds the construction and maintenance of state buildings, public school matching grants, higher education facilities, public lands, parks, and other assets. In recent years, the 12th District team has been able to generate big wins for our region through this budget, including the replacement of key infrastructure following tragic wildfires, the expansion of outdoor recreation opportunities that improve our economy and quality of life, and enhancements to key community response systems. Our legislative team has been able to successfully secure many of our regional priorities, including the Wells Hall replacement for Wenatchee Valley College, Chelan County Emergency Operations Center, Twisp Civic Building, Winthrop Library, Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, Wenatchi Landing sewer extension, Saddle Rock soil remediation, and a variety of recreation and park facility improvements. The 2021-23 capital budget approved last April was a success for our district as well, most notably including the Nason Ridge Community Forest, Chelan Airport water extension, small-school modernization grants, Wenatchee City Pool renovation, Winthrop Ice Rink support, Leavenworth Ski Hill restrooms, Soap Lake City Hall repairs, North Central Washington Libraries funding, and other facility or infrastructure investments. The updated 2021-23 capital budget added $1.5 billion to the previous $6.3 billion budget. For a list of newly added 12th District projects during the 2022 session, click here. The updated budget was approved on March 9. I voted “yes” in the Senate. For more information about the final capital budget, click here.

Wenatchee city pool

The Wenatchee City Pool will receive $900,000 total from the 2021-2023 capital budget for ongoing renovations and repairs. This includes $350,000 in 2021 and $550,000 in 2022. I was proud to sponsor this request and fully support Mayor Kuntz’s idea of establishing a Regional Aquatic Center funding model so that the surrounding communities that benefit from the pool can help share responsibility for maintaining the asset. For more information about my position, click here.

Other major legislation approved

In addition to the passage of all three supplemental budgets this session, other significant bills were approved. To review all session bills, click here or contact the Legislative Information Center. Some of the more notable bills approved were as follows:

  • Move Ahead Washington SB 5974 is a 16-year, $16.9 billion transportation plan for preservation and maintenance of the existing system and to complete large-scale projects. The funding combines federal infrastructure receipts, climate revenues approved during the 2021 session, transfers from the operating budget, and license plate and driver license fees to offset the new investments. The final package includes a Highway 2 pedestrian undercrossing in Leavenworth and $85 million in a matching grant to coincide with the funding gap for Wenatchee’s $134 million Confluence Parkway project.
  • Police Reforms HB 2037 creates a definition for “physical force” and clarifies instances when physical force can be used in an effort to effect an arrest or keep a suspect from escaping. This change is much needed but not enough to fix all the problems with the sweeping laws enacted last session. Unfortunately, SB 5919 to restore the ability for law enforcement to engage in vehicle pursuits of suspects based on the traditional “reasonable suspicion” standard did not receive a final concurrence vote. More adjustments will be needed in future years with a more balanced Legislature.
  • Long-term Care Tax HB 1732 delays implementation of the state’s mandatory long-term care program for 18 months until July 2023. HB 1733 establishes certain exemptions for the program, known as the “Washington Cares Fund.” The postponement of this program delays the 0.58% payroll tax, which amounts to $5.80 for every $1,000 of earnings toward a maximum benefit of $36,500. This program has had problems and fiscal challenges since it was first approved in 2019, which I voted against. The program’s implementation is uncertain. 
  • Affordable Housing SB 5868, which I sponsored, allows counties to utilize their existing .09 sales tax dollars for housing infrastructure. It was supported by the Washington Hospitality Association, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, city of Leavenworth, Chelan County, Chelan Valley Housing Trust, Upper Valley MEND, Wenatchee Valley Chamber, Confluence Health, Cascade Medical Center, TwispWorks, and others.
  • Redistricting Maps HCR 4407 amends the state and federal redistricting plan adopted late last year by the Washington State Redistricting Commission. This plan significantly alters the 12th Legislative District boundaries for the next 10 years. To learn more about the new areas of the district, click here. This plan is being challenged in federal court as a potential violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.
Parts of 12th and 7th districts in Wenatchee area

Based on the new redistricting maps, Okanogan County and much of Douglas County will move into the 7th District. The new 12th District now includes East Wenatchee, Chelan County, Snohomish County (Index to Monroe) and King County (North Bend to Duvall). This map shows the significant split between Chelan and Douglas counties. These maps will likely remain in place for the 2022 elections but are subject to a federal court challenge that could take several months to resolve.

Looking ahead to next session

The state Legislature meets annually every January. With the three budgets updated for the 2021-2023 biennium, lawmakers will not likely meet again in session until January 2023. The makeup of the legislature could look very different as well with elections approaching for all 98 House members and half of the senators, all in recently redistricted legislative districts. Next session could prove to be very interesting.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your state senator.



Brad Hawkins

State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District

Website: senatorbradhawkins.org

107 Newhouse Building - P.O. Box 40412 | Olympia, WA 98504-0412
(360) 786-7622 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000