Legislature to develop state budgets for the next two years


February 21, 2023

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Legislature continues its 2023 session in Olympia and is in the middle of its second month this week. The primary focus of the session is to develop and approve budgets for the next two-year period, referred to as a “biennium.” Since budget development is a major focus of this year’s session, I thought it would be helpful to review the existing budgets. All three budgets will authorize spending throughout the two-year period from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2025. The operating budget ($64.1 billion), transportation budget ($12.2 billion), and capital budget ($7.8 billion) will be finalized after much negotiation. Development of each budget depends largely on the estimated state revenues over the next two years.


Capitol with lake

The State Capitol sits above Capitol Lake in Olympia. Legislative staff and city residents often – when it’s not raining – walk around the trail bordering the lake. Despite all the activity that occurs within the Capitol Building, the city of Olympia and surrounding areas are quite peaceful.


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. For the 2021-2023 biennium, the House and Senate majorities significantly increased the size of the operating budget to a record $64.1 billion. As with any budget or other large-scale legislation, there are always things to like and things not to like. However, I could not support the broad scope of spending in the final budget and voted against it. Despite the COVID pandemic, state revenues were still positive, with more dollars flowing into the state than what was projected. Unfortunately, the final budget had projected to spend all of this revenue and also all of the state’s $2 billion Budget Stabilization Account, also known as our rainy-day fund. I have major concerns about the sustainability of future budgets if we do not retain sufficient reserve funds. This is especially important if future revenues decline. For more information, click here.


Operating budget zoomed

The state operating budget has grown considerably in recent years. The budget approved for the 2021-23 biennium is $64.1 billion, which I did not support due to concerns about its sustainability. Governor Inslee has proposed a $70.4 billion budget for 2023-25. This concerns me as well considering inflationary factors and national economic uncertainty.


operating budget pie

The operating budget funds the day-to-day operations of the state, including K-12 education, higher education, human services, natural resources, and other programs. Approximately 43 percent of state expenditures are dedicated to K-12 education. Other expenditures include higher education, human services, corrections, Medicaid, long-term care, and other programs.


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 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 some infrastructure support was provided to states through federal legislation. The 2022 legislative session saw the approval of a 16-year, $16.9 billion “Move Ahead Washington” transportation package, primarily for preservation and maintenance of the existing system and to complete large-scale transportation projects. These included efforts important to our District 12, including $10 million toward State Route 522 widening, $640 million for State Route 18 widening, and $90 million for Chelan County projects, including Confluence Parkway funding and a Highway 2 pedestrian undercrossing in Leavenworth. While the “Move Ahead Washington” law was approved and signed into law last session, much work – including scheduling of the 16 years of projects – still needs to be finalized this session. For more information, click here.


Move ahead Wa trapsortation plan

The 2022 “Move Ahead Washington” transportation plan, which I supported, includes $85 million in matching funds available to Wenatchee for its Confluence Parkway bridge, $640 million to widen Highway 18, and $10 million toward the SR 522 project, which are all important to District 12. (Shown above is an illustration of the Confluence Parkway Project in Wenatchee).


Monroe map

My transportation priorities include widening State Route 522 from Monroe to Maltby, Highway 2 safety and traffic flow improvements near Sultan, scheduling Wenatchee’s Confluence Parkway construction, supporting SR 202 and 203 between North Bend and Monroe, and the completion of $640 million Highway 18 project as originally scheduled. Click here for an Status Update on SR 522.


Sultan 2

Highway 2 has significant safety and traffic flow challenges. The city of Sultan has proactively designed a multi-project transportation solution along a key portion of the corridor that includes widening Highway 2, replacing the Wagley Creek Bridge, and adding a series of roundabouts to improve traffic flow, which I fully support. Click to view an enlarged version of this Highway 2 proposal near Sultan.


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 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 priorities, including the Wells Hall replacement for Wenatchee Valley College, Chelan County Emergency Operations Center, Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center improvements, Saddle Rock soil remediation, Nason Ridge Community Forest, Chelan Airport water extension, small-school modernization grants, and other facility or infrastructure investments. For more information, click here.


Thank you for the opportunity to serve

My position as State Senator exists to serve you. If you have any questions about the operating, transportation, or capital budgets, please contact me anytime. As the Legislature begins its development of these three budgets, please know that I will continue to do everything I can to maximize opportunities for the 12th District. If you have any questions about other legislative matters, I hope you will contact us as well.

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



Brad Hawkins



State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District

Website: senatorbradhawkins.org

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