Legislature fails to curb governor's emergency powers during 2021 session

Legislative update from Olympia

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Dear Neighbor,

Finally! The 2021 legislative session has come to an end. While there were some positive outcomes during this mostly virtual session – the poor policies that made it to the governor’s desk far outweigh the good things we achieved. We completed the 105-day session only after enacting record breaking spending, implementing over a dozen new or increased taxes and failing to curb the governor’s emergency powers.


When the 2021 legislative session began in January, I was certain we as lawmakers would work in a bipartisan manner to address the governor’s emergency powers and restore balance in Olympia; how wrong I was. Watch my video above to learn more.


Operating budget

At over 1,100 pages, this year’s final operating budget was released just 24 hours before the session ended, limiting the time Republicans had to review it. The Operating Budget is a gigantic and complicated document, so I have included the graphic below to highlight some of the major elements. For reference, this budget is referred to as the Conference Budget as it was a compromise between House and Senate Democrats – who hold majorities in both chambers. As a comparison, you’ll also see the budget Senate Republicans proposed early in the session that fully funded government, didn’t raise taxes and, offered much needed tax relief! Unfortunately, the majority party did not agree with our common-sense, practical, and fiscally responsible proposal.

To fuel this bloated budget, which represents an increase of over 70% since Governor Inslee was elected, Democrats voted for new and higher taxes and raided the state’s Budget Stabilization Account (sometimes referred to as the Rainy Day Fund). Using an accounting trick, they stashed $1 Billion into a newly created account euphemistically named the Washington Rescue Plan Transition Account (WRPTA).  The purpose of this diversion is to allow that money to be utilized by a simple majority instead of the 2/3rds required to access the Rainy Day Fund.  That ought to raise some eyebrows.


budget graphic


Capital budget – good news for our communities

On a positive note, the Legislature unanimously passed a strong, bipartisan Capital Budget, House Bill 1080. It is often referred to as a brick-and-mortar budget because it provides for investment in the construction and repair of buildings such as schools, state offices and historical sites around the state. More than $34 million will go to projects in the 39th District. Here are a few community projects funded in this year’s capital budget.

  • $361,000 for the Monroe ECEAP Facility;
  • $372,000 for the Arlington Innovation Center;
  • $773,000 for the Sky Valley Teen Center;
  • $26,000 for the Sultan Basin Park Design;
  • $1.3 million for the Index Phased Water Line Replacement;
  • $1 million for Monroe North Hill park site;
  • $500,000 for State Route 530 (Oso) Slide Memorial Park;
  • $1.5 million Wallace River Hatchery; and
  • numerous infrastructure improvements at the Monroe Correctional Complex.

I appreciated that this budget prioritizes broadband, school construction, behavioral health, and water projects – while keeping money in reserves to address potential future needs.


Stay connected

Now that the legislative session has ended, please remember that I am here to serve you year-round. I encourage you to reach out to my office and to share your thoughts, ideas and concerns on matters of importance to you. And please, if you don’t already, follow me on Facebook. My contact information can be found on the right sidebar.

I look forward to hearing from you.





May 4, 2021



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Email: Keith.Wagoner@leg.wa.gov

Phone: 360-786-7676