2024 Legislative Session Preview

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December 5, 2023

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Washington State Legislature meets annually each January but alternates between longer sessions of 105 days when developing the state’s two-year budgets in odd years and shorter sessions of 60 days in even years. This year, the Legislature will convene on January 8 for a 60-day session.

The primary focus of the session will be updating the operating, transportation, and capital budgets for the 2023-2025 biennium, which applies to July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2025. In addition to updating the three state budgets, committees will conduct hearings and the Legislature will debate and update various laws. This session will be busy for me as I will continue serving on the Higher Education and Transportation committees and as the Ranking Member on the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. The “short session” is expected to be very fast paced.

Leg building

The Washington State Legislature will convene in Olympia on January 8 to begin its 60-day session. In addition to operating, transportation, and capital budget updates, committees will conduct hearings. During the session, the Legislature will debate and update various laws.

Inside of leg

Many people are familiar with the look of the Capitol exterior. This photo shows the Capitol dome interior. The chandelier and the state seal below serve as centerpieces for the Capitol “rotunda” where people converge every year during the busy legislative session. The legislature convenes January 8, 2024.

Operating budget ($69.8 billion for 2023-2025)

The operating budget ($69.8 billion) funds the day-to-day operations of the state for two years, including early learning, K-12 education, higher education, health and human services, criminal justice, natural resources, courts, and other areas. Despite the COVID pandemic and national economic uncertainty, state revenues remain somewhat positive, with more dollars flowing into the state than what was projected originally.

It remains uncertain how economic factors, such as federal interest rates, gas prices, home values, and past inflation will affect state revenues over the next two and four years. Some economists have forecasted revenues to flatten over these years. I have concerns about the sustainability of the overall state budget if future revenues flatten or decline. It is my preference that the state set aside more funding in its reserve account to weather any reduced revenue situations. More robust state reserves would help mitigate against any tax increases or spending reductions.

For more information about the operating budget, click here.

Operating budget

The 2023-25 operating budget of $69.8 billion funds the day-to-day operations of state government for the two-year period ending Jun 30, 2025. One of the primary goals of the 2024 session is to develop an update for this budget.

operating budget growth

The state operating budget has grown significantly over recent years, far outpacing population growth and infla­tion. The budget approved for 2023-2025, which will be updated in the upcoming session, is $69.8 billion. This level of spending concerns me considering the uncertainty in the national economy.

Transportation budget ($13.5 billion for 2023-2025)

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. During the 2022 legislative session, the Legislature approved a new 16-year, $16.9 billion “Move Ahead Washington” transportation investment package, 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). The plan 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.

For more information about the 16-year Move Ahead Washington investments or the $13.5 billion transportation budget, click here.

Confluence parkway

The Confluence Parkway project was awarded $49 million in federal grants and $85 million in state funding. The 2023-25 transportation budget will allocate $85 million to Confluence Parkway over the next three budget cycles: $28 million in 2023-25, $47 million in 2025-27, and $10 million in 2027-29.


In 2021, Confluence Parkway project received a federal “Infrastructure for Rebuilding America” grant and state funds in the “Move Ahead Washington” plan. Special thanks to Mayor Kuntz, City of Wenatchee, and many local officials for their years of work advocating for this important project.

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, parks, and other assets. Most sections of the capital budget include grant programs where local governments apply for funding based on specific qualifications and submission of matching funds.

Other elements of the capital budget are more subjective. In recent years, the 12th District team has been able to generate big wins for our district 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 will be evaluating the various requests submitted to the Legislature when developing the 2023-25 supplemental capital budget. However, the next capital budget could be strained due to the rising costs and inflationary factors associated with public works project in recent years.

For more information about the capital budget, click here.

Capital funding

One of our area’s projects funded in the 2023-2025 capital budget is $1 million for the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center towards its future expansion and redesign project. The museum’s buildings were built in 1917 and 1937 and lack modern amenities and basic functionality. For more information, click here.


The Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center’s expansion and redesign project is currently in the design phase. Once completed, the modernized museum facility will include a redesigned lobby, expanded exhibits, and many renovated spaces. It will also include a new entrance from Wenatchee’s Centennial Park, currently behind the facility.

Legislative redistricting in dispute

The Washington State Redistricting Commission’s new boundaries for our 49 legislative districts are in effect again for the 2024 Legislative session. The redistricting process is completed every 10 years to balance the population among districts. The new boundary for the 12th District includes East Wenatchee, Chelan County, and portions of Snohomish County (Index to Monroe) and King County (North Bend to Duvall). The 12th District had perhaps the most significant change as its boundaries now cross the Cascade Mountains.

In addition to 12th District, many other boundaries have also been adjusted and some districts have new legislators resulting from past retirements and recent elections. The 2024 Legislature will consist of 49 members of the State Senate (29 Democrats and 20 Republicans) and 98 members of the House of Representatives (58 Democrats and 40 Republicans) with mostly returning members. One interesting complication related to the newly designed districts is a federal court case that successfully argued that the Redistricting Commission’s bipartisan design of Legislative District 15 is in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. A federal judge will be revisiting and redrawing the 15th District’s boundaries, which could impact other legislative districts.

More information related to the final maps should be available in early 2024.

12th district

Washington state has 49 different legislative districts, which are balanced every 10 years based on population. Each district is represented by one state senator and two state representatives. A federal judge recently ruled that the design of the 15th Legislative District is in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act and must be redrawn.

Additional policy issues

In addition to updating the three budgets, other bills will be debated and approved. These will likely include adjustments to education, energy, agriculture, law and justice, environment, childcare, human services, healthcare, and higher education laws. I anticipate the recently approved Climate Commitment Act will be debated and potentially refined, especially given the concern statewide about rising gas prices.

Some lawmakers are discussing a permanent reduction of vehicle registration fees and car tabs to acknowledge the impact of high gas prices on families. Anything to reduce people’s financial burdens would be appreciated, but I believe the state should do much more to assist state residents and families who are burdened by inflation and other increased costs. As the 2024 legislative session develops, we will hear more about what proposals are likely to be considered.

Hawkins thank you

I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve as your State Senator. If you have any questions about the upcoming session in Olympia, please call our Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or contact me through my website at senatorbradhawkins.org.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve

I hope this email newsletter provides you a good preview of the upcoming legislative session. If you have any questions about the state budgets or legislation being considered, please call our Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. To learn more about my legislative efforts on your behalf, please visit my website senatorbradhawkins.org. Also, my office has been actively working to share information about my Facebook page. You can 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

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