We’ve made it to the last week of session! But the big question on everyone’s mind is – will lawmakers end on time, or will it take an extra session to get the work done? As the days wane on it is becoming clear there remain several big-budget sticking points between the House and Senate. Many fear the April 28 end-of-session deadline will come and go without a budget. If that’s the case, the Governor will be forced to call a special 30-day legislative session.

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So, where are we?

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Transportation Budget

Rumor is lawmakers have been meeting behind closed-doors to hammer out a compromise transportation budget. If you recall, the two budgets were not that far apart, with the House spending slightly more than the Senate on its transportation priorities. For a full recap of those budgets see here.

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My understanding is lawmakers have come to compromise on the “easy stuff,” which is presumably funding to programs like CRAB, TIB, WSDOT local programs, etc.  Both budgets funded these programs similarly. Where the sticking points most likely remain are how to pay for the fish passage barrier issue, ferries, and other big projects.

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Specific programs and provisos I am keeping an eye out for in a final budget include:

  • Gas tax funding distributions for counties;
  • Funding to CRAB;
  • Our Surface Transportation Program federal fund swap proviso;
  • Our gas-tax study money proviso;
  • Funding for programs like TIB, FMSIB, multi-modal, etc.
  • Joint Transportation Committee studies that will take place in the 2019-2021 biennium;

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Operating and Capital Budgets

The scoop from the “hill” is lawmakers are struggling to come to a compromise on the operating and capital budgets. In the House, lawmakers raise more revenue to pay for their priorities (think a REET tax, Capital Gains, an increase in the state B&O tax rate, etc). While the Senate does raise revenue (REET), it also cuts state agencies to pay for many of its priorities. This is one of the big differences the two chambers are struggling to come to an agreement on and may just be what sends us into extra innings.

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I will provide an update on any budget releases as soon as they come. Keep your fingers crossed this week brings with it compromise and coordination!