Budget season in Olympia

Legislative update from Olympia

banner new background

Dear Neighbor,

As the 2020 Legislative Session begins to wind-down, much of our attention is turning towards our supplemental operating and supplemental capital budgets. The budget process is difficult --at best--as we work to balance the needs of government with the needs of its citizens. Health, public safety, education, these are just a few of the issue’s which are funded with your tax dollars. Each program is evaluated in hopes to meet the needs of our growing population.

Three separate budgets are proposed - one from the Governor, one from the House and one from the Senate.  It is between these three budgets that negotiations will take place.  


Putting government first, taxpayers last

Washington state’s economy continues to boom. The latest revenue forecast was increased by $606 million over the November forecast which means the state has  more than $1.5 billion in unexpected revenue since last year. I believe that during this time of unprecedented growth, we should be saving for the future. But instead of putting some of that money into our rainy-day fund, we not only spend that revenue, but we neglect our reserves as well. While I applaud our continued commitment to education, behavioral health and healthcare, this is not a responsible or sustainable budget.

I was not able to support the final passage of this budget because instead of providing tax relief to our residents, we continue to grow the size and breadth of government. Our spending has grown exponentially, 20% in this biennium alone, outpacing the income growth of our citizens. This budget offers no property tax relief, does not implement I-976 and ignores the need for additional funding for public safety.

Our communities continue to face an ever-increasing homeless population. Although this budget adds $115 million for services, I have concerns that we are not addressing the root of the problem. There are no measures in place to monitor the effectiveness of the services being provided nor do we offer real solutions in the way of affordable housing. I was disappointed that an amendment to use a small portion of that money for cleaning up the mountains of garbage left on our streets and neighborhoods was not accepted.  

Homelessness is a complex issue and we should be focusing on effective ways to help the poor and keep those suffering from mental illness or addiction from being a risk to themselves.

There are some good things included which I was happy to see. We were able to fund Senate Bill 6570 which will provide grants to behavioral health and suicide prevention efforts for our law enforcement officers. To date, law enforcement officers have a greater chance of dying by suicide than in the line of duty. In 2019, there were 228 confirmed suicides, a 25% increase from 2018. These men and women are on the front line, risking their lives to provide an invaluable service to our communities and I was honored to co-sponsor this legislation.

Funding was also included for the Parent-Child Assistance Program. This excellent program reduces the costs of welfare and foster care while promoting healthier lifestyles and reducing homelessness and unplanned pregnancies.

Additionally, this budget provides funding for the University of Washington’s, Partnership Access Line which has proven to be an important resource for parents to have children with behavioral health disorders; funding for an elk fencing project to provide safety for the Concrete School District and funding to place a body scanner  at the Monroe Correctional Complex to increase contraband and drug detection.

The chart below shows how much state spending has increased compared to average wage growth. You can also learn more about the supplemental operating budget in my video below.


Legislative video update

See my video below where I share an update on the supplemental operating budget.


Capital budget requests

This year I have requested funding for the following projects in our communities through the 2020 Supplemental Capital Budget:

  • 3 generators to help in the event of an emergency for the cities of Sultan and Index with one additional generator designated for mobile use in the Sky Valley
  • Skykomish Masonic lodge will also receive a generator and an exterior fire escape
  • Funding for the city of Index’s ongoing engineering and work on their replacement water system

I have heard from thousands of you so far this year on issues we are addressing in Olympia. I hope you continue to share your concerns and ideas. It is a pleasure and an honor to represent you.



February 28, 2020

Let's Be Social! 

Follow me on Facebook to stay updated on the latest news from Olympia

Fun fact…

Each legislative update will highlight a fun fact about your 39th Legislative District State Senator!

Senator Keith Wagoner….

Senator Wagoner’s son, Thor, will graduate from the Naval Academy in May!