Legislature approves budgets and adjourns session


April 24, 2023

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Legislature adjourned yesterday evening on schedule. The 105-day session 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 involving learning loss, special education investments and transportation funding. The Legislature approved all three budgets for the 2023-25 biennium, which begins on July 1, 2023. The updated operating budget ($69.8 billion), transportation budget ($13.5 billion), and capital budget ($9.0 billion) were finalized on the final days of session after much negotiation. I voted against the operating budget but for the transportation and capital budgets.

Leg Bldg

The Washington State Legislature officially adjourned its 105-day session on April 23. In addition to approval of the operating, transportation, and capital budgets, the Legislature also adjusted its police pursuit statute and made modifications to education, energy, agriculture, firearms, childcare, human services, healthcare, and higher education laws.

Operating budget ($69.8 billion for 2023-2025)

The operating budget funds 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. 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 have still been positive, although less growth is anticipated in the coming years. Estimated revenues are expected to significantly slow over the next four years. The final approved operating budget is projected to spend $69.8 billion total during the 2023-25 biennium. I have concerns about the sustainability of the overall state budget as future revenues slow. The 2023-25 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.


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 approved this session for the 2023-25 biennium is $69.8 billion. I could not support the budget approved as I have concerns about the level of state financial reserves and the overall sustainability of the budget.

Transportation budget ($13.5 billion for 2023-2025)

The transportation budget funds the construction and maintenance of the state's transportation system, including maintenance and preservation of roads, bridges, and ferries. This budget also funds 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 are also numerous previously approved road projects funded with these dollars based on their construction schedules. During last session, the state approved a new, 16-year, $16.9 billion “Move Ahead Washington” package, primarily for preservation and maintenance of the existing system and to complete large-scale transportation projects. The package included the Highway 18 project and a portion of the SR 522 project described below. I voted "yes" on this budget. For more information about the 16-year Move Ahead Washington investments or the transportation budget for 2023-25, click here. For a link of 12th District transportation budget projects, click here.

Highway 18 improvements near North Bend

Hwy 18

A new interchange at I-90 and SR 18 will improve safety and traffic flow near North Bend. This phase of the project also includes widening two miles of SR 18 to Issaquah/Hobart Road.

Tiger Mountain

The 2023-25 transportation budget includes widening five miles of SR 18 from Issaquah/Hobart Road to Deep Creek over Tiger Mountain. It is estimated to cost $665 million total and will receive $57 million in 2023-25, $250 million in 2025-27, $250 million in 2027-29, and the remaining funds in the future as needed.

Update on State Route 522 project


Completing State Route 522 is one of my top legislative priorities. The project will widen 522 between Monroe and Maltby and add an interchange at Paradise Lake Road and Maltby Road. Over $33 million has been appropriated to the project so far (including $15 million for 2023-25 and $16 million for 2025-27) for design, engineering, and right-of-way acquisition. The construction phase is not yet funded, which could cost $180 million or more.

Capital budget ($9.0 billion for 2023-2025)

The state capital budget funds the construction and maintenance of state buildings, public school matching grants, higher education facilities, public lands, state 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, Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, Wenatchi Landing sewer extension, Saddle Rock soil remediation, Nason Ridge Community Forest, Chelan Airport water extension, small-school modernization grants, Wenatchee City Pool renovation, and other facility or infrastructure investments. Now that the district boundaries have been adjusted, I have made sure the new portion of the district receives its share of capital budget funding. The 2023-25 capital budget included many projects beneficial to our region, including the Fall City septic project, North Fork Skykomish River 911 extension, Snoqualmie Valley Youth Center Barn, Sultan Basin Park, Index water line, and Monroe Therapeutic Facility, and more. The budget was approved on April 22. I voted “yes” in the Senate. For more information about the final capital budget, click here. For a link of 12th District capital budget projects, click here.

Sultan Basin Park – Capital Budget Funding


The final capital budget includes $500,000 toward funding a park in the rapidly growing Sultan basin area on the eastern portion of Sutan. This funding will enable the city to apply for Recreation and Conservation Office grants and support this key phase of the overall $3 million park facility.

Sultan Mayor

As the new state Senator to Sultan, I have greatly appreciated many meetings and visits with your Mayor Russell Wiita. (This photo in the Senate chambers was taken on the opening day of session). Your city leaders, staff, and consultants have been terrific to work with. 

Major legislation considered

In addition to the passage of all three budgets this session, other significant bills were approved. These include adjustments to education, energy, agriculture, law and justice, environment, firearms, childcare, human services, healthcare, and higher education laws. Two of the most notable bills considered were related to police pursuits and drug possession:

  • Police Pursuits (approved): Senate Bill 5352 Law enforcement officers have long been authorized to engage in vehicular pursuits under a “reasonable suspicion” standard. During the 2019 legislative session, one involving multiple changes to police practices, the threshold for vehicle pursuits was raised to a “probable cause” standard, which I did not support. This change created many challenges for communities throughout the state. The law was changed back this session to a “reasonable suspicion” standard for pursuits involving a violent offence, sex offence, vehicular assault or driving under the influence.
  • Drug Possession (not approved): Senate Bill 5536 The State Supreme Court struck down Washington’s felony drug possession law in its 2021 Blake Decision. To temporarily clarify matters of drug possession, the Legislature that year enacted a short-term fix that expires this July, establishing drug possession a misdemeanor. After much debate on a proposed compromise, the Legislature did not approve a new measure to replace the expiring law. The compromise was designed to assist people struggling with personal drug use but also establish stiffer penalties for people who refuse treatment.
  • Review More Bills: In the 105-day session, over 2,300 bills were officially introduced. Of those bills, approximately 400 were approved. If you would like more information on any bills, please click these links to review all session bills or contact the Legislative Information Center.

I had a great group of Senate Pages this session, including 10th grader Amelia McAllister. Pages (ages 14-16) deliver documents between buildings, provide support to Senate offices, and work on the Senate Floor. They learn about state government, parliamentary procedure, and the legislative process. Click to learn more about the Senate Page Program.


I had a great visit with Monroe officials during their March trip to discuss city issues with legislators. From left to right: Councilmember Heather Fulcher, Councilmember Tami Kinney, Mayor Geoffrey Thomas, and Councilmember Jason Gamble with me in the Senate chambers.

Looking ahead to next session

The state Legislature meets annually every January. With the three budgets approved for the 2023-2025 biennium, lawmakers will not likely meet again in session until January 2024. The makeup of the legislature will be the same as all 98 House members and all 49 senators will be returning for the second year of the state biennium.

If you have any questions about this session, please contact me at senatorbradhawkins.org. You can call our Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 if you need immediate assistance at any time. Be sure to like and follow me on Facebook @SenatorBradHawkins for my latest updates.

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



Brad Hawkins



State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District

Website: senatorbradhawkins.org

Facebook: @SenatorBradHawkins

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