Legislature approves budget updates and adjourns session


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March 8, 2024

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Legislature adjourned its 60-day session yesterday as scheduled. The session was busy as I continued as the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee’s ranking member. This session was fast paced for all matters, including education issues, which I am closely involved in as a member of committee leadership. The Legislature approved all three budget updates for the 2023-25 biennium, which ends on June 30, 2025. The updated operating budget, transportation budget, and capital budget were finalized on the final days of the session after much negotiation. I voted against the updated operating budget and for the transportation and capital budget updates.


The Washington State Senate had several long days of floor debate and voting before approving the supplemental operating, transportation, and capital budgets.

Operating Budget ($71.9 billion)

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. As with any budget, there are always things to like and not to like. State revenues have remained slightly positive, although less growth is anticipated in the coming years. The updated operating budget is projected to spend $71.9 billion during the 2023-25 biennium. I voted against the final budget update because I have concerns about its sustainability if future revenues slow. For more information about the final operating budget, click here.


The state Operating Budget now anticipates expenditures of $71.9 billion. K-12 spending continues to increase in per-student funding. However, that policy area continues to shrink as a percentage of the budget as other funded areas have been growing at a faster rate.

Transportation Budget ($14.6 billion)

The transportation budget funds the construction and maintenance of the state's transportation system, including preserving roads, bridges, and ferries. This budget also funds state agencies and commissions that serve our transportation system, including the Washington State Patrol, the Department of Licensing, and the Department of Transportation. Numerous previously approved road projects are funded based on approved construction schedules. I voted for the final budget update because it essentially continues current projects. Find more information on the transportation budget here

State capital

The Legislature officially adjourned its 60-day session on March 7. In addition to approving the operating, transportation, and capital budget updates, the Legislature also approved three initiatives and modified laws in education, energy, agriculture, firearms, childcare, human services, healthcare, and higher education.

Capital Budget ($10.3 billion)

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 generated big wins for our region through this budget. This year's budget update focused on K-12 school facilities largely resulting from excess capital gains tax revenues. The budget update includes $14.5 million for the Wenatchee Valley Technical Skills Center, $1.3 million for affordable rental housing in Leavenworth, $300,000 for the Regional Sports Complex Site Evaluation, and other projects. Find more information on the final capital budget here


I worked closely with Wenatchee Valley College President Faimous Harrison, the State Board for Community & Technical Colleges, and local Running Start students to secure passage of my Senate Bill 5670 related to Summer Running Start for “rising juniors.” Thank you, Dr. Harrison!

My Senate Bill 5670 was approved

Running Start is a free tuition “dual credit” program for 11th and 12th graders, first implemented in Washington in the 1990s. The program allows students to earn tuition-free college credits while in high school. The credits earned count towards both high school and college degree requirements. Running Start is for part-time or full-time students.

My Senate Bill 5670, first introduced during the 2023 session, received approval, and now advances to the Governor. It will expand Running Start opportunities by allowing students who have completed 10th grade but haven’t yet started 11th grade to earn up to 10 credits during the summer. This will help students ease into their Running Start experience. I call my bill a “Walking Start to Running Start.” Click to view the bill history and full text.

Other Issues Considered

In addition to the budget updates, other issues were considered including bills adjusting education, energy, agriculture, law and justice, human services, healthcare, and housing, and education laws. Some of the more notable issues were:

Initiatives to the Legislature: Lawmakers received several initiatives as session began related to the capital gains tax, climate commitment act, long-term care, police pursuits, income tax, and parental rights in education. These measures were a result of signatures collected in 2023. The legislature held hearings and approved three initiatives (police pursuits, income tax, and parental rights). The remaining initiatives (repealing the capital gains tax, climate commitment act, and long-term care tax) were not considered and will advance to a statewide vote this November.

K-12 Education Funding: Many school districts have struggled with increasing insurance, utilities, and special education costs. Last year, the legislature enhanced special education funding and we did it again this year. We also took another step forward this session, supporting Materials Supplies and Operating Costs (MSOC) and paraeducator staffing. The Legislature also expanded grant funding for school facilities within its bipartisan capital budget.

Transportation Cost Escalations: In 2022, the legislature approved a 16-year, $17 billion transportation investment plan known as “Move Ahead Washington.” Since its approval, several major transportation projects have experienced significant cost escalations due to recent inflation. Legislators approved steps this session to resolve some of the funding shortfalls and are deferring other decisions until the next session. Continuing with the projects now will result in significant savings later.

Review More Bills: If you want more information on any bills, please click these links to review all session bills or contact the Legislative Information Center.

Honoring state champion sports teams

Despite the rigors of the legislative session, it was fun to take time this year to honor two 12th District state champion sports teams, the Mt. Si Girls Cross County Team from North Bend and the Wenatchee High School Girls Volleyball Team from Wenatchee. I hosted both teams at the State Capitol. The teams visited with Reps. Goehner and Steele  and were honored by the Senate.


Congratulations to Coach Steven Crane and the Mt. Si Girls Cross Country team for winning their first ever 4A Cross Country State Championship last November. Photo courtesy of Northwest Sports Photography and the WIAA.

Videos honoring Mt. Si Cross Country


Congratulations to WHS State Championship Girls Volleyball Team.

Videos honoring WHS Volleyball

Apple Blossom Royalty visit Capitol

I was honored to host the 2024 Apple Blossom Royalty at the State Capitol again this year. It is always a highlight when the Apple Blossom Royalty visit. The Royalty were excellent ambassadors for our 105-year-old Apple Blossom Festival. What amazing products of our community! They are smart, kind, friendly, and mature beyond their years. They had no problem mixing it up and interacting with Senators, Reps. Steele and Goehner, and others. I was proud to host them and look forward to seeing them again at the Grand Parade! The 105th Washington State Apple Blossom Festival will be held April 25 – May 5. For more information, visit appleblossom.org.

Apple blosson

I was honored to host the Apple Blossom Royalty at the State Capitol this year. From left to right: Princess Lexie Fennell, Queen Ella Stimmel, and Princess Jenissa Hepton. The 105th Washington State Apple Blossom Festival will be held April 25 – May 5. For more information, visit appleblossom.org.

Looking ahead to next session

The state Legislature meets annually every January. With the three budgets approved and updated for the 2023-2025 biennium, lawmakers will not likely meet again in session until January 2025. The makeup of the legislature could be different depending on the new members taking office.

If you have any questions, 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

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